Over the last couple days I’ve been arguing that the time might be ripe to start pushing the case in Congress to get Washington out of education. Educationally, fiscally, and constitutionally it is the right thing to do, and the negatives of being smeared as “anti-education” or “anti-child” could be countered by very powerful voter sentiments against big, wasteful government.
Well, it seems new Tea Party-type Congress members might get a chance to use education to prove their bona fides very early. In his post-pummeling presser yesterday, President Obama mentioned education as one area in which he could see bipartisan accomplishments being made, and several articles today — including on Politico and in The Washington Post — suggest that education might indeed be a Kumbaya issue.
That could be right, because presumptive House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was a lead force behind the No Child Left Behind Act, and the Obama administration has made a lot of noise (if just the opposite in terms of concrete action) about taking on teachers unions and fighting for charter schools. In other words, there seems to be some bipartisan convergence on education, with Republicans now favorable toward federal control and Dems willing to at least talk critically about mega-potent unions. That NCLB is far passed due for reauthorization only bolsters education’s chance of being used as a fence-mender.
That said, there are a lot of obstacles in the way of this happening, with the ideological fissures among congressional Republicans likely to be one of the biggest, as well as divisions among Democrats. But if the leadership in both parties see education as a place where they can all hold hands, the time to make the unapologetic, uncompromising case for getting Washington out of our schools will definitely be upon us.