The Left-Leaning Academy (Townhall.com) February 16, 2010Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
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A recent book and a current study address a problem most of us have long
known about—the leftward tilt of American university faculties. Not only are faculty predominantly liberal politically but today’s generation of younger faculty feel free to share their personal opinions very openly, whether in a class on biology, English or politics.
A recent study asks why this is true and concludes it is typecasting—people go into the field expecting that field to be secular and liberal—and so it is. More conservative people look toward careers in business or engineering.
It’s an interesting theory, but we can’t wait several generations to do something about it. Donors, board members, parents and students have more leverage than they may think. Choose colleges wisely, select courses carefully and make gifts selectively. We don’t need an academic tower of Pisa, always leaning in one direction.
Not a Good Time to Be Governor (Townhall.com) February 11, 2010Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
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federal government continues to encroach on states’ rights. Most recently, through Race to the Top stimulus money, the federal government has sought power over what has always been a local and state issue, namely education.
This is part of a disturbing pattern—the federal government decides we have a crisis and declares a war—whether on poverty, drugs, illiteracy or underperforming schools. Then it offers money to get the financially strapped states to do what they want.
Yes, many schools fail to meet their responsibilities, but does anyone seriously think federal oversight and federal funds are the solution?
The Misguided Race to Federalize Education w/Gordon Lloyd (San Francisco Chronicle) February 7, 2010Posted by daviddavenport in Newspaper Columns/Essays.
Tags: Higher Education
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President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan call their
$4 billion program of education reform grants the Race to the Top. A more accurate title would be the Race to Washington, because their program culminates a stunning decade in which school policy decisions have been wrested from local and state control to become matters of federal oversight. With the possible exception of Texas – where Gov. Rick Perry is resisting federal education grants with all their strings – no state has been left behind in the race to federalize education.
It’s easy to miss this important power shift because few of us notice, much less worry about, constitutional processes during a crisis. But, as presidential Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel famously said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste” because, he continued, it’s an opportunity to do things you couldn’t do before. And that’s precisely what is happening in education as we complete a transfer of money and power to Washington to oversee our schools, in violation of the 10th Amendment, a couple of hundred years of history and common sense.
It started when two former “education governors,” Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, took some of their education ideas to the White House and now, in the name of spending stimulus money and curing the ailing economy, we spend billions in federal grants on schools, all with policy strings attached.
You could call it bribery, offering cash-starved states extra billions if only they would follow federal curricular standards and testing regimes. You could definitely call it unconstitutional, because nothing in the Constitution gives the federal government a role in education, and the 10th Amendment says powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the people and the states. Even the highly elastic commerce clause doesn’t stretch far enough to cover education. To make matters worse, these federal grants are permitted to go directly to school districts, further eroding the role of states.
But beyond the constitutional question, why would we object to shifting educational control from local and state governments to Washington? For one thing, most of the promising experiments in K-12 educational reform – charter schools, parent councils or the creation of regional sub districts – shift power down toward local principals and parents, not up toward a more distant bureaucracy. For another, needing to win over local and state leaders one at a time slows the embrace of policy fads. For example, after the celebration when Sen. Edward Kennedy and Bush joined hands to “leave no child behind,” we were left instead with a problematic testing regime now desperately in need of repair. Further, education experts who have examined federal education standards say they are more lax than the ones most states now employ.
One of the problems with education, health care, federal regulation of banks and executive compensation: It’s an enormous expansion of the federal enterprise. And, like the New Deal enacted in the crisis of the Great Depression, it will never be turned back. The era of big government isn’t over; it’s just beginning.
David Davenport is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. Gordon Lloyd is professor of public policy at Pepperdine University.