One might think that state and federal politicians would learn a lesson from their pathetic approval ratings, since some polls suggest that fewer than 20 percent of voters think they are moving the country in the right direction. One might also think that the fact that a reality show host and a surgeon are leading the polls for the Republican nominee for President would be embarrassing enough to convince career politicians that political gamesmanship is no longer acceptable behavior. But, based on recent political shenanigans in the Ohio legislature, it seems that approval ratings need to drop into negative numbers before they take the hint that their constant intrusion into areas about which they have no knowledge is unacceptable.
The legislature’s political arrogance was on full display last week when a press release trumpeted that that august body has created the “Joint Education Oversight Committee.” The release noted that this new committee will be comprised of politicians from both parties (as if that matters) “to scrutinize programs and spending within K-12 and higher education,” and it further stated that “it has broad discretion to review and evaluate education programs at any public school, college or university that receives state funding, and to investigate and inspect schools and programs.”
In other words, people who have no expertise in education and who have proven time and time again that their mandates are based on “Alice in Wonderland” delusions have appointed themselves as the scrutinizers, reviewers, evaluators, investigators, and inspectors of the very subject of which they know so little. Isn’t that special?
This means that the same people who established Ohio’s charter school laws that have been an unmitigated disaster and have wasted billions of tax dollars while lining the pockets of generous campaign contributors, have decided they are well suited to “scrutinize spending within K-12 and higher education…”
And, the same people who have implemented a statewide online testing program known as PARCC that even the village idiot knew couldn’t possibly succeed and that was scrapped after just one year because of its colossal failure, thus wasting even more of our tax dollars, will “scrutinize spending within K-12 and higher education…”
And, the same people who have mandated more than two decades of state tests at an astonishing cost to taxpayers in an effort to “close the achievement gap” among diverse student populations and who decided to mandate even more costly tests after twenty years of data has proven that the incessant testing hasn’t closed the achievement gap at all “will inspect school programs…”
And, the same people who created a teacher evaluation system that uses test data from previous years to evaluate a teacher’s performance this year will “review and evaluate education programs…”
And, the same people who pretend as if poverty and a multitude of other environmental factors have no impact on a child’s academic achievement will “investigate and inspect school programs…”
And, the same people who thumbed their noses at the democratic process with their support of clandestine (and probably illegal) efforts to take over the Youngstown Schools has given itself “broad discretion to review and evaluate education programs at any public school.”
Are you kidding me?!
Pay special attention to the terms these people so cavalierly use to justify their actions; terms like “review,” “evaluate,” “investigate,” “inspect,” and “broad discretion.” Just to be clear about what that means; a group of people who know nothing about education have randomly appointed themselves as the “reviewers,” “evaluators,” “investigators,” and “inspectors” of education in spite of their well-documented history of failure, and they have given themselves the power to do whatever they see fit with their findings.
If this display of arrogance doesn’t scare you to death, it darned well should, because if you think these self-appointed “experts” in every imaginable area limit their unwanted intrusion to just public education, you are wrong. Education, they’ll fix it; health care, they’ll fix it; welfare and poverty, they’ll fix them; immigration, they’ll fix it; the economy, they’ll fix it; Social Security, they’ll fix it. Meanwhile, they don’t fix a darned thing and in many cases their involvement makes them even worse. There is nothing about this holier-than-thou attitude that should be acceptable to any of us.
So, the best thing that can happen for public education would be for the “Joint Education Oversight Committee” to be disbanded before it reviews, evaluates, investigates, inspects, or ruins a single thing.
Now, that would be change we could believe in.
Tom Dunn is the superintendent of the Miami County Educational Service Center.