by Dr. Terry Stoops
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
“When it comes to education policy, leave it to the teachers — not the politicians” declares Jay Mathews in his latest Washington Post column. It’s hard to believe that someone who has been writing about education for so long still gets so much wrong.
Mathews believes that “I think education policy is too important, and too fragile, to get mixed up in national politics.” But it is and always will be, so long as the federal government chooses to play a sizable role in the financial support and regulatory governance of public schools, Americans acquiesce to federal intervention, and successful politicking requires paying lip-service to support for public education. After all, Americans believe that the future of the nation is dependent on the quality of public schools, a belief that politicians naturally use for political gain. They would be foolish not to.
Finally, “teachers” are not a homogenous group. Thus, we cannot assume that they would formulate coherent policies or come to any consensus on those policies, perhaps with the exception of throwing more money at the system. And if “more money” is the only policy for which there is consensus, then their contribution to the policy debate is duly noted.