Oklahoma lawmakers' use of 'local control' could rob students

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: February 28, 2013
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Those goals have been the focus of recent education reforms. Opponents now want to label them “unfunded mandates,” although it's a mystery how academic basics count as “new” school expenses. Oklahoma is implementing third-grade reading standards. High school students must pass tests demonstrating limited mastery of mostly freshman- and sophomore-level coursework to get a diploma. What benefit is provided by allowing schools to opt out of those basic teaching responsibilities?

If you think that outcome unlikely, ask yourself: Which is more likely to be spiked under these proposed laws — athletic programs or academics?

These measures reflect a mindset that says government spending can only increase and savings aren't possible. We expect to hear that from President Barack Obama, but not from supposedly conservative Republicans. Private businesses routinely find ways to lower costs while improving services, allowing reallocation of funds for other uses. Public schools can do the same in tough budget times. Instead, these bills appear likely to encourage accounting games when school officials wish to evade accountability.

Blind trust is no substitute for actual oversight. “Local control” shouldn't be a weapon used to rob children of educational opportunities.

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