NCLB And Progressivism Part Whatever

Not to beat a dead horse, but Brink returns to the issue of the progressivism of No Child Left Behind. He essentially argues that it might be progressive if it were funded enough. This, of course, falls squarely into the “it sucks but fund it trap”. If the law’s no good or regressive, then it’s no good and regressive regardless of its appropriation. If its goals are worthy, then they’re worthy regardless of Washington budget fights. Moreover, funding is a strange measure of progressivism in the first place. By this facile logic, President Bush is more progressive on education than President Clinton. Is Brink going to take up that case?

Rather, progressivism has something to do with progress (look closely, the word is in there somewhere, though sometimes hard to discern these days) and reform. Roosevelt didn’t champion the New Deal just because it contained spending but because it reoriented the role of government in society. No Child, while obviously not as sweeping, does build on the 1994 Clinton ESEA law and further reorient the role of government toward forcing states to address the achievement gap. That’s one big reason progressives should like it.

Besides, as Willie Sutton noted, if you want money then you go where the money is. In education that means the states because they provide the bulk of the funding. No Child is the best tool to come along in a while to ensure better intrastate school finance equity. That’s another reason progressives should like it. But blinded by their loathing for President Bush too many invent reasons not to (even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then, you know?). Here are some who don’t. These ones, too.

Update: One reader, lefty Hill type (but a hard lefty in Beinhartese) writes: Re your NCLB item today: What about some numbers. 49M kids in K-12, $11B to “full funding.” Could you revolutionize education on $230/head? Of course, that number could be as high as $300 for kids in some Title I schools. Windfall!

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