To the Editor:
Justin Baeder asks a lot of questions in his recent blog post about “Equity and Waning Local Control” (Oct. 9, 2012), to the extent that it’s possible to decipher what exactly he’s arguing. He seemingly criticizes the United States’ federalist structure for creating “an extremely loose confederation” of schools that underperform “tightly coordinated, centralized system[s]” like Finland or Singapore on student-achievement scores.
But if Mr. Baeder were to glance at the Program for International Student Assessment’s worldwide rankings, he would discover that not all countries with centralized school systems have high results. Low-scoring nations like Italy and Greece also have centralized systems with national standards, suggesting that giving greater power over our schools to bureaucrats in Washington is not the educational panacea that many pundits and (perhaps?) Mr. Baeder claim it is.
To the contrary, America’s educational system is overly centralized already. The U.S. Department of Education has intervened in state school systems several times over the past two decades with laws like No Child Left Behind, and student achievement on the National Assessment of Educational Progress has only stagnated. Mr. Baeder points to the failure of such “poorly conceived legislation” in his article.
So, what makes him think that greater control will give different results?
State Policy Analyst
Americans for Prosperity Foundation
A version of this article appeared in the October 31, 2012 edition of Education Week as Centralized Schools Are Not the Solution