Thursday, August 5, 2010

Politics and Education, Primary Day Edition: 5th Congressional District

Posted By on Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 11:30 AM

...otherwise someone ELSE will decide which brand of educational extremism gets main stage for the November election.
  • ...otherwise someone ELSE will decide which brand of educational extremism gets main stage for the November election.
What a smorgasbord (a veritable cornucopia!) of candidates we have here in the 5th, all running for the privilege of losing to Jim Cooper! On the ballot we have:

* David Hall
* Jeff Hartline
* Cece Heil
* Vijay Kumar
* Patrick Miranda
* Bob Ries
* Bob Schwartz
* Jarod Scott
* Lonnie Spivak
* Alvin Strauss
* Tracy Tarum

Yikes — I'm tired already. Who'd want to miss the opportunity, though, to take a magical mystery tour through the labyrinthine depths of these candidates' unique views on education? Come, friends: I think and judge it for thy best / Thou follow me, and I will be thy guide, / And lead thee hence through the eternal place, / Where thou shalt hear the desperate lamentations, / Shalt see the ancient spirits disconsolate, / Who cry out each one for the second death.

First up, David Hall.

David doesn't have much to say on education, save this:

Only recently has there been increased federal influence in public education. For two intelligent centuries America was educated at the local level and that effective system birthed some of America's most brilliant minds. Men and women were educated from homes or local schoolhouses, allowing parents and local leaders to guide and direct the education of their children.

Ah, yes. The good ol' days, when children were put to work in the fields, anybody with skin darker than a light tan, or who was a woman, couldn't vote (and probably couldn't go to school), and the average educational attainment was somewhere around the eighth grade (or less). Those sure were the days, huh?

What about Jeff Hartline, the roguish character we've all heard so much about?

Well, in case you hadn't heard, Jeff doesn't much like the Feds (he and David have that in common):

Action: I would initiate legislation to return the responsibility of educating our children where it belongs, to the individual States. I would eliminate No Child Left Behind, abolish federal controls and eventually, and support the closure of the Department of Education.

A slightly different dream, yes, but one that idolizes complete local control over education. Now, I'm all for local control and differentiation, but that has gotten us into trouble [pdf] a few times in the past. Might there be some sort of role for the federal government to play?

And then there's the mama grizzly bear herself, Cece Heil. Despite having a slick website and the endorsement of Sarah Palin, Cece doesn't have much to say on education:

Our constitution established a government of enumerated powers. The intention in the 10th amendment of limiting federal government to only those areas specifically listed within the Constitution and reserving all other powers to the states and the people is clear and inviolable. There is absolutely no constitutional basis to support the intrusion of the federal government into the realm of education.

Succinct. My interpretation: Cece's first 4 terms in office are going to be largely spent trying to roll back the last 100 years of federal legislation involving education. Wait! Why stop at 100 years? We had federal (well I guess confederate) legislation involving education way back in 1785 and 1787 — that's four to six years before the 10th amendment was even ratified!

Even though Vijay Kumar is primarily running on his "secret" strategy to win the war on terror, he takes time to add an education issue section to his site. I warn you: It's going to sound pretty familiar.

The federal government has no constitutional right to be meddling in education, and its meddling has been a grand failure. We must return education to local control and let parents and their community leaders decide what’s in their children’s best interests, not federal bureaucracies and teachers’ unions. A first step toward a more effective education system is a common language in which children are taught.

Ha! Just kidding! Vijay toes the line on "give 'em the boot" states rights-ism, but also adds in a healthy dose of xenophobia! Nothing like a little English-Only hard-line positioning to make yourself stand out from the crowd, eh? Maybe he's hoping some of that patented "Crafton Charisma" is going to rub off...

Patrick Miranda, representing a nice change, actually has a lengthy education section on his website. Sure he echoes the "keep the feds out" line that everyone else has, but he adds some gems of his own as well. From the ominous sounding tagline — "STOP the motto 'All children CAN learn'. Rather, make it 'All children WILL learn' " — to the questionable understanding of the First Amendment right to free association ("We need to ABOLISH the NEA"), Patrick at least put some thought into his positions, or, at least wrote a lot:

We WILL take thuggery out of our schools.
We should allow parents to use the money they’d otherwise be paying in taxes to put their money in a TAX-FREE education fund for their children. They can use this fund to attend the schools of their choice. If under performing schools fail, then so be it…competition will breed success.
We must end busing. Local school districts ought to be allowed to determine if they want students bused to their schools from other areas of the city…the government needs to stay out of these choices.
ESL classes are necessary, but we MUST insist on parents and students to learn the English language as quickly as possible.

Inexplicably, there's a progressive stance hidden among the caps-locked educational sentiments that took me kind of by surprise:
Understand and support the needs of schools with Special Education courses. Make schools perform to the standards set forth by law, but take into account schools with special needs youth. Reward schools who have good special needs programs which not only educate but allow for greater social interaction with the youth they teach.

Way to go, Patrick!

Bob Ries has more important things to talk about than education (including trial of military detainees, a flat tax, and Robert's Rules of Order), but does throw in a smack-down of the concept of separation of church and state, which pertains to religion in schools:

There is absolutely no separation of Church and State provided for in the Constitution of the United States. It does not exist.
Preventing children from praying, reading the Bible and saying God, anywhere, including schools, is a prohibition of the free exercise of their religion, in direct violation of the First Amendment. The same is true of preventing people from displaying Religious Symbols on public property.

Bob Schwartz, the second of the two Bobs, likewise has more important issues on his mind than education, but takes the time to include a snippet in his "12 Promises" section:

I will fight to steadily cut funds for the army of bureaucrats in the Department of Education and increase the ability of parents to choose how to educate their children.

Firing the army of bureaucrats seems a little at odds with his "Jobs First ... Jobs Foremost" mantra, but maybe he can use the newly fired bureaucratic army to defend the border, which seems to be Bob's most important issue anyway.

Aside from quoting Hegel, Jarod Scott doesn't actually have that much to say about anything, education included, except for one of his three "Actions to Restore the American Economy":

2. No Interest Loans to Those Currently Receiving Any Kind of Government Assistance for Education and Living Expenses to Help Them Establish Marketable Skills and Eliminate Their Dependency on Government Assistance

C'mon Jarod - welfare reform is like sooooo 90's.

Finally, we have Tracy Tarum, whose website, aside from going on a near-insensible rant about the ACLU (I'm sorry, the "American Communist Lawyers Union"), has a short bit about education in his "I Just Saved Us 1/3 of a Trillion Dollars - Check It Out!" section:


Personally, I seek to eliminate this department altogether. Education is and should be a state matter. That would save about $71 Billion. At the very least, here are some programs to cut.

Race to the top, Investing in Innovation, English Learner Education (essentially an illegal alien Democrat voter head-start program), Effective Teaching and Learning For a Complete Education, College Pathways and Accelerated Learning, Excellent Instructional Teams, Expanding Educational Options, Supporting Student Success, Adult Education State Grants, Workforce Innovation Fund, Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, Federal Work Study, TRIO (welfare for inner city), GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs), Institute of Educational Sciences

Total Savings - $14.277 Billion

Hmm. I detect a little instability here. First off, the link to the section says "1/3 of a Trillion Dollars," but the actual title of the section says "1/4 of a Trillion Dollars." I know it's just an $83 billion difference, but which is it, Tracy? Secondly, Tracy doesn't stick to the hard line. Come on, Tracy! Stick it to the Feds! There's no reason to waver on the need to dismantle the entire Department of Education.

All in all, though, I have to say that Tracy probably wins overall "best description" points for his description of ELL education as an "illegal alien Democrat voter head-start program."

Unfortunately, Lonnie Spivak, self-proclaimed Tea Party candidate, doesn't appear to address any education issues, and Alvin Strauss (calling to mind the other Alvin that's been in the news recently), has no website at all. Still, I'd be willing to bet that both think that the federal government has too much influence in education.

Well there we are, folks. If you live in the 5th District, consider yourself informed as to education issues. I encourage everyone in Tennessee to get out there and vote today, and I'll be there with you tonight, watching them returns roll in...

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