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Big Brother and local education

  
Column by Chris Graham
freepress2@ntelos.net

Big government has no place in local education. Does us no good to be sending dictates down from Washingon and Richmond with all manner of strings attached.

No Child Left Behind – bad idea. Standards of Learning – bad idea.

Freshman State Del. Dickie Bell’s proposed state mandate that local school boards allocate 65 percent of its operating budget to instructional spending – bad idea.

The initiative isn’t Bell’s alone. Bob McDonnell had the 65 percent threshold as part of his ’09 guberntorial-campaign platform. I can understand a pol like McDonnell getting something like this wrong, but not Bell, a public-school teacher when the General Assembly is not in session.

According to the Bell-patroned bill, HR 76, school divisions not meeting the 65 percent benchmark would have to present a plan to the State Board of Education in the following fiscal year showing an increase in instructional spending of .5 percent at the threat of a state audit.

If that sounds like a lot of paper shuffling, well, we’re not done on that yet. The bill also requires the State Board to report to the General Assembly the amount of spending allocated by local school divisions to instructional spending based on the reports submitted annually by local school boards.

Big Brother is watching, right?

How is this any different than Democrats on Capitol Hill committing the grave sin of wanting to expand government activity and oversight in the health-care sector?

Oh, yeah. Because the insurance industry is the friend of the Republican Party, while the education lobby in the form of the Virginia Education Association in this instance is the friend of the Democrats.

It’s not government overreach when we’re the good guys taking it to the bad guys over there on the other side.

The idiocy to this is that state lawmakers in discussing this legislation are predictably quibbling over what can rightly be included toward the 65 percent threshold.

Attention, Mr. Governor, Del. Bell, etc.: Keep the state out of what our local school boards decide is best as far as educating our local kids.

In fact, since you guys can’t seem to keep your grubby hands out of what we’re trying to do to best educate our kids for the jobs of tomorrow, just cut state taxes across the board and let our localities do that job for themselves without having to endure your political whims.

(Note to the feds: Hint, hint.)


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