Politicians and education
Another law has been passed by another legislature and signed by another governor making it easier for parents to litigate against schools.
A new law will make it easier for parents of disabled children to challenge school districts' decisions regarding their child's education, Gov. Eliot Spitzer's office announced Thursday.
The law signed this week makes the school district responsible for proving it is satisfying legal obligations to provide an appropriate individualized education program for a student with a disability, according to Spitzer's office.
"This bill rightly places the burden of proof on school districts that have the expertise needed to assess options and the responsibilities for implementing individual educational plans," said Spitzer in a release.
I guess one can argue about the particulars of this case, but I find it interesting that this law was passed because the Supreme Court--not exactly the most pro-public education bunch in the world--ruled that the burden of proof should be on the parents if they are the ones challenging the way the schools have done something. I also find it interesting that the Bush administration, "after 'a careful review' of administrative law and of the changes to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act approved by Congress," also came down on the side of the schools. And we all know how friendly the Bush administration tends to be to public schools. Nevertheless, the Democratically controlled New York state legislature couldn't wait to pass a law to circumvent that decision, and the Democratic governor couldn't wait to sign it. And Democrats are supposedly friendly to public education.
The fact of the matter is that over the last 40 years or so, politicians of both parties have supported law after law restricting schools in their ability to deal with students and making it easier for parents to challenge them. Have all these laws made public schools better? I don't think so.
Perhaps all of this has happened because when it comes to education, politicians haven't got a clue. Here are statements recently made by former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney:
"I'm really concerned that schools in inner cities are failing our inner city kids—largely minorities—and those kids won't have the kinds of skills to be able to be successful and competitive in the new market economy," he said. "The failure of inner city schools in my view is the great civil rights issue of our time." Romney said he would work hard to improve schools but did not elaborate beyond that.
"I'd like to have local school boards recognize that they need to be concentrating of course on English, math and science, but also some of the cultural elements that make us a society of creative individuals."
Wow! How insightful. It really looks like he's put a lot of thought into education, doesn't it? And he's running for president!