Big Shock! Nationalization Sparks Culture War

Paul the psychic octopus sez: “Toldja so!”

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

With the shooting war that’s emerging betweeen Arne Duncan and Rick Perry over national control of education, some of the people who helped facilitate the movement toward nationalization are now saddened to see that creating a giant lever in DC that has the power to impact every school in the nation leads directly to a vicious, snarling political war over education policy, such that education can’t be discussed and debated dispassionately because culturally aliented partisans who don’t trust each other are all too busy trying to be the first person to seize the lever.

Surely no one could have predicted this unforeseeable outcome! Oh, wait.

National control over curriculum creates a single lever you can pull to move every school in America. Would conservatives trust progressives, and would progressives trust conservatives, not to try to seize control of that lever to inculcate their religious and moral views among the nation’s youth? And if you don’t trust the other side not to try to seize the lever, is there any reasonable alternative to trying to seize it first?

And this would not be just a single conflict that would happen and then be over. Like the Golden Apple or the One Ring, national curriculum and testing will continuously generate fresh hostility and cultural warfare as long as they exist. And once you forge this ring, there’s no Mount Doom to drop it into.

See also. Plus Neal here. Not to mention Neal’s eternal platonic beauty queens.

The whole idea of “high standards” is now irreversibly associated with nationalization. Now that the standards people – most of them, anyway – have been foolish enough to start it, this war over nationalization is going to have to be fought to its conclusion before we can circle back and talk about “high standards” in any other context.

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6 Responses to Big Shock! Nationalization Sparks Culture War

  1. [...] trust one another or strongly “own” one another as fellow citizens. This is why policy nationalization inevitably produces a vicious culture war, and that is exactly what has happened [...]

  2. jocon307 says:

    There’s a real simple solution to this. End Federal involvement in Education.

    We need to cut spending at that is a good place to start.

    If you still want to buy the little buggers lunch, fine.

    This is a state responsibility and it should remain that way.

    Believe me, if some state is not educating their children….oh wait….that’s already happening.

    So, after decades of Fed’l involvement schools are doing badly.

    At the least we are wasting money, just stop it.

    • Greg Forster says:

      Nothing “simple” about that solution! Can’t and won’t happen in our lifetimes. Perfect, good, enemy, yadda yadda.

      Also, federal involvement can’t be blamed much for poor performance (feel free to blame it a little) because:

      1) Performance was poor before – the schools have been equally lousy as far back as data allow us to look, the main difference being we spend a lot more now; and

      2) Federal involvement is relatively minor even with NCLB. For all the hubbub both sides make out of it, NCLB is really a whole lot of not much. It’s a big light show that allows both sides to pretend there’s a big federal involvement in education (which both sides find convenient to their respective storylines).

  3. concerned says:

    What is Chester thinking?!?

    Those of us opposed to Common Core were expecting all along that Perry’s entry would highlight the threat to state sovereignty posed by national standards (aka testing/curriculum) Perry’s campaign should have anticipated Duncan’s first-draw and been prepared to educate the public on the federal overreach!

  4. stlgretchen says:

    I was under the impression the Federal Government was created by the states but the states were to have the ultimate power on the day to day governance of their citizens. The states were to keep the Federal government in line, not vice versa.

    The nationalization of standards is illegal and not what the founders intended. Here is the problem with nationalization in a nutshell as written by Christopher Tienken:

    “The problem is once we shift the balance of control for education to the federal government, which it ostensibly will occur in this case due to the regulations and strings attached to receiving the money, the local
    citizens lose the only remaining voice they had to help determine some aspects of the curriculum and their children’s education. Instead of curriculum changes coming from the bottom up through the voice of the people, those changes become increasingly driven by national political ideology, such as social conservatism and neo-liberalism and not by
    empirical research.”

    http://4510231301677788699-a-1802744773732722657-s-sites.googlegroups.com/site/matheducationsite/Home/national-standards/Tienken.pdf?attachauth=ANoY7cqOnG7Gqs9xo_Us9WL04gllELmrQodwA6FjnX1H0LiOJu3YxcxYGzPgJeUyyynN7DDFtgSa6agFQrFErCj3CjSTTjDgDBu0iJiLNyqzGloCAe0fveMAqTGxk-BiN-v0hBLduRIduZLXAUAfH0U9WCfrJzA5v2Otmw37odJ1ObdB2uDpmuRyQHyWE9JY-m9uuu1aQVjLTgzmJum0RVapmk__9fIfI8CuzSsfnhYKgB-lADIiR4g%3D&attredirects=0

    Bingo. There you have it. “Instead of curriculum changes coming from the bottom up through the voice of the people,those changes become increasingly driven by national political ideology, such as social
    conservatism and neo-liberalism and not by empirical research.” This isn’t a surprise to anyone who has been following this issue from a constitutional approach.

    This move toward nationalization of education is as ill-advised as the move toward nationalization of health care. No empirical research was done in either the health care or education debacle.

    The Federal government has become paramount over state sovereignty. NCLB certainly IS intrusive in state educational matters. The state departments of education don’t need to exist except to implement federal mandates. But wait! The state departments of ed are about to be phased out into regional offices because of common core standards! How’s that for centralizing and nationalizing state education?!

    And how about the Federal government bypassing legislatures and mandating aspects of RTTT in states EVEN THOUGH the state didn’t receive the grant?

    The whole idea of “high standards” of course is nationalized. No research done and no public involvement was performed or invited. And the fact the “high standards” were crafted by the NGA and CCSSO, both private entities, should raise questions as to the intent of the standards.

  5. adamlaats says:

    Does a nationalization or centralization of education policy make future culture wars less likely, though? My point being, in a rigorously decentralized educational system, some people can learn evolution, others can learn creation. Some can learn pluralism, some can learn ethnocentrism. Some can go to schools that teach the Bible, others can go to school that teach that the BIble is a collection of myths.
    Would a centralized education curriculum enable both sides in each issue to hash out a mutually acceptable, if not perfect, solution that over the long term would reduce culture-war tensions?

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