I springboard on other KOS diarists stuff quite a bit, and a recent one from Downstate Democrat about the school board in Chicago not being elected but appointed by the Mayor kicked me into writing this. Now I have to admit, in the case he discusses at http://www.dailykos.com/... I can definitely see his point and agree with his concerns.....
You see I think that the American way of democratizing as much as possible, from the appointment of sheriffs and judges who enforce the laws to school county and state education boards who decide on how kids get taught is a pretty daft idea. From here outside the goldfish bowl it seems like an admirable concept that in the end compromises the integrity of the systems. This is truest of all it seems in the case of school / education boards. Follow me below the squiggle and I'll put my case to you.
First lets start with a pop quiz.
When your car breaks down who do you take it to:
a) Joe The Plumber
b) Don The Dentist
c) Mike The Mechanic
When you need a medical procedure involving surgery who do you go to
a) Joe The Plumber
b) Don The Dentist
c) Sam The Surgeon
When you need decisions making on how your kids are educated who do you go to
a) Joe The Plumber, Pete The Pastor and their mates
b) Don The Dentist, Hannah the Home-schooler Mom and their mates
c) Eddy The Education Expert, Tom The Teacher and their mates
You see, in questions 1 and 2 any sensible person would answer C, but whereas a Bit answers C to answer 3 as well, you my American chums answer A and B.
Look at who sits on school boards. Are these people with the necessary experience to make informed decisions that effect your kids educations? Its bad enough at local levels, but when you extend that system to all powerful entities like the Texas SBOE, whose decisions actually have direct control on the content of school textbooks all across the US, I suggest that electing Don The Dentist and his ultra right wing religious nutball buddies is perhaps as daft as answering A and B to question 2 above.
A few case examples perhaps to support my assertion:
1) The Texas Chainsaw Textbook Massacre:- Don The Dentist McElroy, famous for his screech of "Someone has to stand up to these experts!" when faced with facts from scientists about how creationism is guff, and his equally extreme Religulous Reich buddies not only sought to re-write science, they also re-wrote American history when they oversaw a radical purge of the history text books that contained people they didn't like.... like Jefferson. WTF????? Even after Donny has been trashcanned this madness continues on and on...and Texas is such a big textbook market it effectively dictates what goes in textbooks used all over the US.
2) The Dover Dimwits:- The school board at Dover High was taken over after elections by evangelical fundys who then voted in a policy that injected the laughably misnamed Intelligent Design version of creationism into the school science classes via stealthy underhand tactics including getting a state education official to turn up in class and read out an anti-evolution warning statement. Tammy Kitzmiller and a few other parents called their bluff and took them to court, and of course the school board lost the case. Sure, they also then lost the subsequent elections and were voted out, but the school district still had to foot the bill for the multi million dollar case.
3) The Cranston Clownshow. At Cranston High a very obviously Christian prayer banner was plastered onto one wall of the auditorium. A brave young lass by the name of Jessica Ahlquhist protested and asked that it was taken down, as she explained the unconstitutional and exclusionary nature of the banner. The school board ignored her, went to court and lost the case badly. More dosh lobbed away by fundy god botherers. They also sat by while young Jess was subjected to verbal threats, email death threats, and slandering in the local press.
4) The Texbook Sticker Twonks:- Go in a school library in Kansas, Alabama or several other states and there's a good chance that the dogeared copy of the biology schoolbook on the shelf will have on its cover or inside leaf a large sticker warning that evolution is just a theory blah blah blah. In some places court cases have said that these are improper and must be withdrawn - more money wasted. The stickers cost time and money - more money wasted from school budgets. Why? Cos some religious school boards think evolution makes Jeebus cry.
So.... there you go. Four case examples from a whole truck load of possibilities all across the US. Examples where placing policy decisions and budgets in the hands of ill educated goofballs with little or no regard for the law lands the school district and kids educations in a heap of trouble.
You see the system might work if you had a simple rule that people who sit on the boards had to have some form of experience or qualification in education. But you dont, so the school boards end up staffed by idiots who make bad decisions that sometimes cost the school and district, or state and country, considerably. A system that is joyfully abused by fundy groups from The Discovery Institute downwards through the pondlife of ignorance.
I dunno....to a lad who comes from a a country where education policy and standards are run by national government the system in the US looks too open to political abuse and liable to fail and cost much needed budgetary money. And in the meantime its your kids who suffer as a result. I maintain that the chaotic US administration of education and its ham handed end application through religiously and politically partisan school board members is one of the major reasons your kids are falling ever further behind other western states kids who grow up, like me, with state educations and unified national curricula administered strictly by "Civil Service" bodies.
Over to you guys for the defense......