Increasing federal control over education policy as occurred under No Child Left Behind was never a good idea. For one thing, it gives lobbyists a central location enabling them to force states to purchase their products. In this instance, our own Sen. Jeff Bingaman is taking a lead role. Tim Carney writes about it in a recent Washington Examiner article:
In August, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., together with Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., introduced the Achievement Through Technology and Innovation Act, or ATTAIN for short. The bill’s various provisions all aim to direct federal funding to local schools under NCLB. A House version of ATTAIN was introduced in May.
One significant aspect of NCLB for struggling schools has been $100,000 federal grants that they could more or less spend as they please. Many schools spent the money on computers or software licenses, but many others invested in a couple more teachers. ATTAIN would remove some of that leeway and require schools to spend certain portions of their federal money on computers, software and training teachers to use the technology.
It would be great if Bingaman and others would exert some self-control and not micromanage the states’ efforts to allocate resources under NCLB, but money comes with strings. This is just the latest justification for ending the law later this year.