Thursday, December 11, 2003

Snark which surpasses all understanding 

You can always rely on the City Pages to demonstrate a local low in local reporting. You can also always rely on the Left to use guilt by association instead of reasoned argumentation. Yet it's a particularly virulent form of snarkiness which informs Britt Robson's smackage (see Eric? "Smackage.") of Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke. Robson claims that Yecke has had a volte-face between her decrying of Clintonian interventions in local education policy and the No Child Left Behind Act, which was introduced during her time in the federal Dept. of Education.
The centerpiece of Bush's education agenda is the No Child Left Behind Act, passed by Congress two years ago. While it does not exert as much direct federal control over education as Clinton's national tests would have, there is no question of its forceful impact on how Minnesota manages its public schools and measures what students learn.
"There is no question" is lazy. There is a question, Britt. A big one. Do you want to rely on tests that only look at aggregate data, or do you want to be sure that kids from all backgrounds are being tested? And please remind me, Britt, when the Clinton plans allowed kids to opt out via vouchers if their schools failed them?
Once in Minnesota, Yecke helped ram through the new reading and math standards required to get No Child Left Behind funding. This September, almost exactly six years after she decried encroaching federal involvement in education, she praised the act as "a strong law, a morally righteous law."
And if Yecke had not gotten the funding, what do you think Britt would write?
Ironically, the clamoring for more local autonomy in education stems from a nationally coordinated, ideologically driven movement that seeks to deprive public schools of stable funding and force them to compete in the private market. And Yecke is clearly a part of that movement.
So which is it? Is she for more federal funding, or private markets?
This explains why Yecke has frequently stated that the amount of money a school receives does not necessarily affect its performance, and why she readily acquiesced to Pawlenty's budget cuts in education during the last session.
Well, do you have any evidence to the contrary? My look at the question for higher education can be easily applied to K-12 as well.
It is why her 1997 speech was reprinted as the cover story in the February/March 1998 edition of Intellectual Ammunition, a public policy magazine published by the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank based in Chicago, whose education philosophy is prominently displayed on its website: "Government schools are islands of socialism in a sea of competition and choice."
Which NCLBA corrects, so why is she being inconsistent? Or are you the one being inconsistent, Britt?
The Heartland Institute, the Fordham Foundation, and other organizations pushing for conservative, free-market oriented education reforms have made progress through the efforts of Bush and Yecke. The process and the people chosen by Yecke's education department to develop Minnesota's standards reflect her conservative bias (see "Cooking the Books," 11/12/03). The federal law advocated and implemented by Bush and Yecke is structured so that any school that departs from those standards will be financially punished.
Britt is back to the old "she's in bed with THESE KIND OF PEOPLE" argumentation. It is not that schools don't need to be reformed, but that it is being done by the wrong kind of people. What would Britt do with any school that departed from Clinton approved standards? Give them more money?

Wait, don't answer that.