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The Ed Sector's Sara Mead Says "Small Ideas Only, Please"

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bigideasno.JPGNo big ideas for the Ed Sector's Sara Mead, thank you very much. She says she prefers "small-bore ones" instead. And then she cryptically links to yet another DC schools article -- enough already -- without really making any point.

Mead's knee-jerk disdain for "big, flashy ideas" like amending the Constitution to make education a Constitutional right might be understandable if it weren't so obviously ill-considered, if we weren't already so used to the Ed Sector's tendency towards quick dismissals of any ideas that aren't "theirs," and if Mead's boss Andy hadn't just the day before highlighted a very similar provision as something that could "radically alter education accountability."

Creating a new right of action for parents sounds pretty big -- and pretty similar -- to me. It probably won't happen, either. Neither did opportunity to learn standards (remember those?) or national testing (so far). But that's not really the point. Good and bad, viable or not in the current situation, big ideas give us a better sense of the far edges of the table we're playing on, instead of always playing on the same two-inch square in the middle all day.

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Educating our citizenry, in light of international developments, has become a national priority. Constitutional scholars could make the case that Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution has seemingly usurped Amendment X of the Constitution. Thats right. The federal government has had to go to the extreme of taking over the direction of our previously mismanaged system of public schools. It appears the 50 states have demonstrated it’s going to take them too long to come to a meaningful consensus on what to do about our public schools. Article I, Section 8 states. The Congress shall have the power to...provide for... the general Welfare of the United States. It appears the general welfare of the United States, in the twenty-first century, now includes the education of its citizenry, which prior to 1983 was the nothing short of a national embarrassment. The same thing happened a decade and a half ago in 49 of 50 states where governors and state legislatures were forced by the business community to take charge of dysfunctional local schools by mandating state standards with corresponding state assessments. As the New York Times stated in a September 2005 editorial, state departments of education had to take over by *default* because there was such chaos and ineffectiveness from local school boards and textbook companies as to what should be taught and when. This pell-mell system was also accompanied by little or no accountability.

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