In the last presidential debate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney went out of his way to declare his resistance to federal intrusion in education. It remains to be see whether he can retain that resistance should he win the top political job.
It is an impulse that few chief executives can resist. George W. Bush attempted to use the long arm of the government to take public school classrooms back to basics, with negligible results, at best. The Obama Administration is also attempting its own social engineering of public schools.
Although the public school establishment may be more sympathetic to it than it ever was to No Child Left Behind , it too looks just as misbegotten as what Newt Gingrich could call the last presidents unsuccessful attempt at “right-wing social engineering.”
On July 26, 2012, the president issued an executive order establishing a White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans . It is aimed, in part, at “decreasing the disproportionate number of referrals of African American children from general education to special education by addressing the root causes of the referrals and eradicating discriminatory referrals.”
We have written on the ham-handed manner by which inner city public schools “solve” their disciplinary problems by putting them in special education classes. Given the way that federal fiats go awry, an order might not be the best means of accomplishing this end.
Lyndon Johnson’s original goal in increasing federal aid to education was to actually educate the poor. Instead, standardized test scores plummeted.
Similarly, the new White House Initiative sets a goal of “reducing the dropout rate of African American students and helping African American students graduate from high school prepared for college and a career, in part by promoting a positive school climate that does not rely on methods that result in disparate use of disciplinary tools, and by supporting successful and innovative dropout prevention and recovery strategies that better engage African American youths in their learning, help them catch up academically, and provide those who have left the educational system with pathways to reentry.”
But what happens when the students are in all black schools, or all white ones?
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
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