Saturday, February 14, 2015

It’s almost as if they’re unprincipled

Peter Greene has a good post about the inherent tension between wanting federal aid for schools but not wanting federal control of school policy.

But I really don’t understand the attitude of our federal lawmakers toward school policy. They intentionally designed No Child Left Behind so it wouldn’t directly regulate school policy; it just puts conditions on whether the states can get federal money. But the feds aren’t just “giving” that money to the states; first they’re collecting it from the people of those states through taxation. In other words, federal school policy occurs through putting conditions of the federal redistribution of wealth.

So our federal lawmakers seem to agree that school policy is a state issue that they shouldn’t regulate directly. And many of them would certainly oppose any suggestion that we should redistribute wealth. But apparently they’re fine with redistributing wealth when it enables them to control state issues? WTF?

If “redistribution” weren’t such a dirty word, maybe we could recognize that we’re already doing a lot of it, and that it would be a good thing even if it were unaccompanied by federal intrusions into state policy-making.

1 comment:

StepfordTO said...

I agree, but a comparison with the redistribution of tax-generated money for healthcare--at least as it works in Canada--is interesting. In Canada, the federal government gives "transfer payments" to provinces based on some kind of (per capita) formula, but it sets certain conditions to ensure that all provinces uphold the principles of universality, accessibility, portability and public administration. So in the case of federal healthcare funding, I'm glad that those conditions are in place.

With respect to education funding, the federal government in Canada has no direct role but contributes indirectly through its "equalization" payments to the less wealthy provinces. So, yes, I guess there is redistribution of funds without conditions in this case, but I think my point is that federal regulation, per se, might not be the problem. Maybe it depends on what is being regulated and how the conditions are applied. In any case, "redistribution" should never be a dirty word!