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I wait with the proverbial baited breath for each and every one of State Rep. Cynthia Davis’ (R-19th) Capitol Reports; I am filled with anticipation to learn just how absurd her latest effort to deal with the complexities of government will be. Her most recent effort (printed here at The Turner Report) does not disappoint. It brings us Davis’ musings on educational reform, specifically the Race to the Top federal grants program which Davis condemns as a manifestation of:

… the insatiable appetite the federal government has for controlling every element of our lives. There really is no reason for congress or the executive branch to be meddling in how we educate our children or how we administrate health care. …  We are trading away our freedom on how to manage our own schools for a set of federal standards that will be defined by those in Washington, not those closest to the students like the parents and the teachers.

Quelle horreur! Federal standards that reflect an informed, national consensus about what an educated individual should know and the best ways to teach it, rather than the prejudices of small-minded state legislators like Cynthia Davis! You may want your children taught creationism, among other questionable tenets, but most people I know certainly do not.

According to Davis, a national reform effort is not needed:

There is nothing “Race to the Top” can give us that we cannot already give ourselves. If we want school reform, we can simply vote for the reforms the voters want, not what is mandated from on high

Tell that to school administrators in St. Louis, Kansas City, and, I suspect, some of the poorer rural districts and see how they react. Following Davis’ logic, one has to conclude that many Missouri parents actually want a mediocre or poor education for their children – or else, surely, they would have voted for just the right reforms long ago – and figured out how to fund them, too – something that our current legislature doesn’t seem to be able to manage.

Davis is right that the No Child Left Behind program is a failure; it was always underfunded and excessively rigid – partly to placate conservative beliefs about education, or, as some suspect, to force failure and eventual privatization of our educational system. It did, however, reflect the growing recognition that we need national educational achievement standards and an equitable approach to delivering education if we are to be successful as a nation.

This time, however we are being offered an incremental approach to reform that reflects the real world rather than slogans, which is why the effort to spur  practical innovation via the Race to the Top could be an important step. And this terrifies poor Cynthia Davis? Quelle horreur!