David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Bismarck: Sink This Idea

April 5, 2011: Bismarck:  Sink This Idea

I've often wondered how legislatures might force the K-12 education system to become a K-16 one.  North Dakota has apparently come up with an idea and will allow the state's citizens to vote on it.

This proposed constitutional amendment has been sponsored by a former teacher in the Fargo secondary school system. The basic proposal wants the Department of Education to oversee all public education, including at the college level.  (I suppose I'd have to call this a K-18, or K-22, or, heck, maybe a K-infinity model.) Secondary schools would not have an elected superintendent, and the governor would appoint a director of the agency and its advisory board.

Needless to say, this is a disturbing possibility.  However, in a situation where educational costs have skyrocketed and student success appears to be dropping, it's no surprise that some legislators have sought this solution.

I'm not sure I would hang my hat on the article's counter argument, which likens this proposal to a system that has a single basketball coach oversee four levels of scholastic athletes.  That point might be valid, but why do we have to tie any argument about what's right with education to NCAA major sports, which host their own collection of questionable oversights?  

My gut tells me this proposal will either not make it through the North Dakota state senate or not be approved by the voters. I suspect a healthy cynicism about the government's ability to manage anything this complex (there is a recent history of disasters in this regard, is there not?) will doom the proposal.

Nevertheless, another gauntlet has been thrown.  It's a clear example of how a state's House can make things worse if we don't get our own house in order.