The North Carolina education establishment is giddy about being awarded manna from heaven federal “Race to the Top” funds to “spur classroom innovation.”
In its proposal seeking the $400 million over four years, North Carolina aimed to raise student test scores, boost high school graduation rates and better prepare students for careers and college work.
The three main components are: money to recruit and retain quality teachers and administrators; a turnaround plan for low-performing schools, and handheld devices that would allow teachers to continuously track students’ progress.
Yippee – an extra hundred million a year over four years. Pardon me if I don’t believe these extra funds will turn around North Carolina’s ailing schools. Total spending on K-12 education in NC already amounts to roughly $12 billion a year, so an extra $100 million amounts to an additional eight-tenths of one percent.
And is more money really the answer anyway? As my Civitas collegue Bob Luebke points out in this article, NC already spends up to nearly $200,000 to produce each high school graduate in the state’s largest school districts.
Naturally, nowhere in the story is there a mention of allowing for parents and children to have more of a say in their educational choices. Nope, just more money thrown at a top-down, centrally-planned system of forced conformity. As Gov. Perdue put it:
“This grant will give us the resources to more aggressively implement our plan to ensure that all of our children graduate ready for a career, college or technical training.”
To the authoritarians running the education establishment, their centrally-directed plan must preempt the preferences of individuals, depriving parents and children of their ability to act according to their own plans regarding the education of a very diverse and unique population of children.
Such centralized decision-making is the antithesis of what nurtures an environment of “classroom innovation.”