West Wing’s education policy

On West Wing, a Texas congressman is a longshot candidate for president, though we know he’s got a chance since he’s played by Jimmy Smits. He’s supposed to be a good guy who’s interested in policy, specifically education. He talks about accountability and firing bad teachers, while paying merit pay to good ones. So, how would he hold teachers and schools accountable across the country? Nationalize education. This is presented as the obviously good policy that anybody with courage would support. I offer this as a sign of what liberal Hollywood writers are thinking.

Eduwonk first pointed out the West Wing site links to the choice-promoting Center for Education Reform.”

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  1. Although I think nationalization of education is a bad idea, I’m surprised that you frown on it as an error of liberal Hollywood scriptwriters.

    I say this mostly because of your apparent approval of NCLB. What is NCLB but the next big step on the road to federalization of education? When it becomes apparent that NCLB did not in fact work miracles, will we get a repeal of NCLB, or will we get NCLB II with more money and more federal mandates? I know what my bet is.

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    There was some excellent acting in West Wing, but I will not watch a program that openly insults me. They should do a season where the “President” never appears on screen, kinda like Charlie’s Angels.

  3. Ross the Heartless Conservative says:

    You are probably correct but unfortunately the choice is not NCLB or having the government out of the education business. The choice is between trying giving billions of dollars in federal aid with no accountability or giving billions of dollars in federal aid with some level of accountability. NCLB just says that if you are going to take federal money you have to use it in a way that gets results. I would prefer option “C”, get the federal government out of the education business unless a constitutional amendment is passed giving it power to have a Department of Education. Unfortunately, C is not an option so I would chose NCLB and hope the law of unintended consequences does not behave in the manner you very reasonably fear.

  4. I agree with you Matt but you’re too late in many respects.

    The federal government already has its nose in the tent at the invitation of the public education system. In the never-ending pursuit of the all-mighty dollar, every federal buck that wasn’t nailed down was grabbed for every reason imaginable. Take that together with the quite successful campaign against state-level accountability measures orchestrated by the NEA and the NCLB is the petard the public education system has hoisted itself on.

    One hopeful aspect of the federalization of public education is that an overt take-over by the federal government has no constitutional support. Another is that the states, weary and wary of a loss of political power to the federal government, may enact measures that supercede the NCLB.

    In this, the states may find support from their state teacher’s union affiliates since the alternative is to cede control of school accountability policy to the federal government.

  5. With regard to NCLB and any successive measures that attach more strings to federal funds, I actually see them as sort of a weaning measure. My guess is that in 20 years or so the federal funding scheme for education will carry so many strings that most states will forego federal funding completely.

  6. Jack Tanner says:

    ‘I offer this as a sign of what liberal Hollywood writers are thinking.’

    More likely the thinking of consultants like crackpot Demo-hack Lawerence O’Donnell. Having seen maybe 5 minutes of the show 3 times the fascination of it escapes me. A liberal fantasy obsessing over the mundane details of politics with really unattractive people. I guess the appeal is that a Democrat gets to be President forever. Yawn!