Utterly Meaningless » Blog Archive » A BILL TO KILL?

    Filed at 5:59 am under by dcobranchi

    This one has been floating around the blogosphere for a couple of days. Spunky’s beat on it a bit and the folks at The Panda’s Thumb have given it a qualified thumbs up (sorry). It’s a sad tale of what might be the end of local control of education.

    The New York Times reported that an unnamed appropriations bill in the Senate has this nice little amendment that will basically force a turnover of all g-school curricula to federal control:

    The measure, backed by the Bush administration and expected to pass the House when it returns next month, would provide $750 to $1,300 grants to low-income college freshmen and sophomores who have completed “a rigorous secondary school program of study” and larger amounts to juniors and seniors majoring in math, science and other critical fields.

    It leaves it to the secretary of education to define rigorous, giving her a new foothold in matters of high school curriculums.

    Slick, huh? The college students can possibly get grant money based on how good the EdSec thinks their high school is. And that’s only the start of the fun. The boneheads in the Senate managed to leave out all private school and home ed grads.

    Another problem is that private school operators believe that the legislation renders their graduates ineligible by saying applicants must have completed a “program of study established by a state or local educational agency and recognized by the secretary.” The bill “would inadvertently exclude over 5.3 million private K-12 school students,” the National Association of Independent Schools, which represents some 1,200 private schools, said in a letter to senators last month. The same legislative language may also exclude parochial and home-schooled students.

    This is all just plain stupid. Why tie eligibility for a grant for college to the supposed quality of the high school program. Wouldn’t one think that a college junior or senior who had maintained a 3.0 had proven herself, regardless of what she did in high school? And then the coup de grâce— that “critical field” bit. Yep, the EdSec will get to determine if your son’s or daughter’s major is “worthy.” So much for the free-market, eh GOP?

    There’s just so much to dislike in this unworkable proposal. Its anti-federalism. The power grab by the EdSec (BTW, didn’t the GOP want to do away with her job not that long ago?). The sheer ineptitude of the folks who are running the show. This really reminds me of the disastrous Medicare Prescription bill– a train wreck waiting to happen.

    So, if you agree that this is a very bad idea, what do we do? Where do we start? First we need info. What bill is this amendment in? The NYT is hopeless as a purveyor of information. Then we find out who is on the conference committee and start making phone calls. We had the right game plan for Section 522. We just didn’t get in the game until the 2:00 warning had sounded. Too little, too late. Maybe not this time, though. With a little luck, we can get this pulled from the final bill. We don’t want the EdSec defining a rigorous high school program, nor do we want her defining worthy majors. This whole idea needs to go back to the drawing board.

    And, finally, a note to any HSLDA attorneys who happen to wander by. On the off chance that this passes into law,


    do not lobby to have our kids included. Discriminating against HEKs is bad, but having the EdSec define a rigorous program for home education would be an utter disaster.

    4 Responses to “A BILL TO KILL?”

    Comment by
    Mary Nix
    January 24th, 2006
    at 9:16 am

    I would say that a more accurate statement would be that this is the tail end of local control.

    I wonder if these folks are just waiting for the bill to pass?

    The State Scholars Initiative Web site is under construction. Please check back soon!


    Comment by
    Scott W. Somerville
    January 24th, 2006
    at 11:11 am

    I’ve been looking at this bill ever since Spunky told me about it. HSLDA is NOT going to lobby to get homeschoolers included, but apparently the private school folks are heading in that direction.

    Do you think we have the political clout to take it out?

    Comment by
    Scott W. Somerville
    January 24th, 2006
    at 11:51 am

    OK, I’ve been digging DEEP into the politics of all this. I wondered why the NYT was making such a big deal about this, and why they wouldn’t even identify the bill that was at issue. (What kind of journalism is that!?)

    There are wheels within wheels, here.

    Still trying to sort out what HSLDA should do about it…

    Comment by
    Scott W. Somerville
    January 24th, 2006
    at 12:25 pm

    I now have a post up at my (mostly dead) blog. It reveals the “REST of the story.” I’m not telling you what position to take, but I think you’ll see that there’s more going on here than the New York Times feels like telling us.