Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Posts Tagged ‘public education’

Native American reservation schools: A case study in big government failure

Posted by sanityinjection on November 28, 2015

I commend to your attention this excellent article from Politico.com about the long history of failure of the schools for Native American children run by the federal government through the Bureau of Indian Education, a division of the Interior Department.

As the article notes, decisions about these schools are being made by federal bureaucrats, often with little or no educational expertise. Per-pupil expenditures are high but results are poor compared to schools in other underprivileged areas. Skewed priorities have led to schools with “smart boards” and computers but not enough electricity to run them in crumbling buildings, and teacher salaries that are high but a lack of the infrastructure to attract them.

The only real success mentioned in the article was achieved by a private non-profit organization. Ironically, the article notes that there is significant opposition within Native American communities to reforms that would increase local control of these schools; reading between the lines, that’s about fearing the loss of jobs currently being held by members of those communities. The feds seem to fear that Native American communities might choose to spend less money on their schools given the chance – but how could they possibly make them any worse than they already are?

The question must be asked: If increased federal control has proven to be deleterious to Native American reservation schools, under what theory would federal control be good for any other schools? Granted, the Department of Education is not actually in charge of administrating schools – just making endless rules and regulations for them.

It’s worth noting that the problem has continued despite sincere good intentions under several administrations to try to improve things. The problem with big government is not that it doesn’t mean well; the problem is that by its very nature it is fundamentally structurally vulnerable to problems like corruption, waste, and misprioritization. State and local governments are not without their problems, but simply by virtue of their smaller size there is a limit to how messed up they can get.

Meanwhile, the Senate committee that is supposed to have oversight of Indian affairs spends its time haranguing the Washington Redskins football team  about changing its name, as if that were the way to improve the quality of life for Native Americans.

Social justice advocates like to point out the unfairness of inequities in public policy outcomes for minority groups – mostly urban ones. Surely no group has more of a moral claim to have such inequities resolved than Native Americans, although their reservations don’t generally fall within urban, Democrat-skewed voting districts.

Obviously a problem that has been many decades in the making will not be resolved by any kind of quick fix. But a good first step would be to take the existing funds being allocated to the Bureau of Indian Education and use them to hire private management organizations to overhaul these failed schools, rather than keeping control in the hands of the same bureaucrats that have been mismanaging them all along.

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Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Putting your kids where your mouth is

Posted by sanityinjection on September 10, 2008

Over at the New York Times, Sandra Tsing Loh examines the choices of the candidates for President and Vice-President in schooling their children:

http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/09/09/the-rantings-of-a-pta-mom/index.html

Loh, a vocal supporter of public education, notes that Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and John McCain all sent or currently send their children to private schools. That may be OK for McCain, who is on record as a supporter of “school choice” policies which would allow parents to use public dollars to send their kids to the public or private school of their choosing. But it’s a bit embarrassing for the Democrats and their teachers’ union supporters.

The one candidate whose children attended public school? Sarah Palin. Fits in with her blue-collar, PTA mom image.

Disclaimer: While I am very much a supporter of school choice and charter schools, I am a product of the public elementary and secondary schools, and rather proud of it.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »