Responsibility and Authority Disconnected

Fifty years ago colleges didn’t need remedial math and English courses; today they do.

Remedial courses cost students time and money, things they can’t afford in today’s high cost higher education world.  One state lawmaker has proposed an innovative way to relieve students of this cost.  The plan would charge local school districts the tuition for remedial courses required by their former students on the grounds that the local school didn’t adequately prepare the students for college.  To families of students and people fed up with poor public school performance this sounds great.  To property owners who would see their taxes go up this sounds like a bad idea.  It’s actually a disconnected idea.  The disconnect with holding local school districts responsible for college remediation is that local education is no longer under local control; it’s dictated by the Federal government through Common Core, NCLB, required testing programs, and numerous unfunded mandates.  The concept of being responsible for something implies that you have the authority to control that for which you’re responsible.  When your actions are dictated by an external authority your sole responsibility is to follow orders.  The outcome is presumably assured by the authority figure issuing those orders.  In the case of public education the Federal government doesn’t “know” the outcome, it’s just trying yet another approach in an ongoing series of costly experiments to “improve” public education.

The Federal takeover of public schools is also another progressive attack on the family as the basic unit of society. When control is local parents have far more influence over the schools than when control rests with the Department of Education and it’s head who thinks that all children should be raised by the state.  Even the former Soviet Union didn’t go that far.

If you want to hold local school districts responsible for student outcomes abolish the Department of Education (which has no Constitutional basis for existence) and return control of education to the states (where the 10th Amendment says it should be).  If you’re happy with Federal control of your schools ask the Department of Education to pay for remedial college courses and see how fast that department points the finger back at the local school districts.

Authority must always be commensurate with responsibility.

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