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.
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.