July 27, 2005 1 min read

Why save bureaucratic overreach for the school year? While musing about summer reading lists, Joe Williams stumbled across this:

You’d think having summer reading programs for students would be an easy enough feat for people with doctorates in education to pull off. You steal one of the many summer reading lists already available all over the globe, run off a few million copies and get it into the hands of students and their parents. (Or, if you are into the whole consensus-building thing, you appoint a commission to meet a few dozen times over 18-months to create a list similar to the ones you can just-as-easily rip-off from other states and districts on the Internet, run off a few million copies, etc.) ... [But] in New York State, the men and women in charge of the state’s schooling bureaucracy recently were forced to issue an 866-word “Guidance on Locally Required Summer Reading Assignments” to remind everyone that since we’re talking about public education there are rules, rules, rules which must be followed!

To be fair, as Williams points out, this chunk of verbage was likely prompted by a spate of lawsuits involving summer reading assignments. Still, he raises an excellent question, well beyond the scope of this blog to answer:

So, do we come up with stupid rules for smart people to follow, or smart rules for stupid people?

(via Eduwonk)

A version of this news article first appeared in the Blogboard blog.