Sunday, February 9, 2014

More powerful ≠ smarter

Local control isn’t everything. Everybody knows that more centralized levels of government are better suited to deciding some issues than local governments are. It would make no sense for states and towns to conduct their own foreign policy. But there should be an articulable reason for giving policy-making power to the state or federal governments rather than to local governments. When it comes to imposing extensive and detailed curricular standards on local school districts, what is that reason?

One possible justification is that there is value in uniformity across districts and states; I’ll return to that in a later post. Is there any other justification? Does the state somehow have better access to “correct” thinking about educational practices than local governments have? I don’t see how.

One unspoken reason is: the state is smarter than local school districts are. Those locals (rhymes with “yokels”!) are just a bunch of amateurs who are bound to make bad choices. But what reason is there to believe that state officials and federal officials are more competent than local officials to decide anything, much less educational issues? They’re elected by the same voters, after all. They have fancier titles, and certainly they have more power. But where’s the evidence that they’re more competent?

1 comment:

M.L. said...

I guess it could be argued that the state has a better 'national perspective' and the feds have a better 'global perspective' and in order to compete on the national or global stage we better pay attention to what's going on there. In other words we can no longer live our lives in a small town idyll and therefor kids should be aware and prepared to compete on the larger stage. Right?