The recent decision by state Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau to not take Montana into the federal jungle of more control of public schools from D.C. via a new program labeled “Race to the Top” is commendable. By bits and pieces over recent years, the Department of Education has dictated much education policy by investing a few dollars and lots of promises for funding public schools. Under this new program our schools would have to jump through major hoops and give up authority they now have to even get approval to apply for any funds.
A brief study of the history of federal aid to education holds us Democrats responsible for pushing federal aid to education, with a few of us joining Republican in opposing it; however, when the Republicans gained more control, they also became proponents. So, it is with pleasure that I support Juneau’s decision to not participate in the “Race to the Top” program. Her well-reasoned statement is worth reading. This is her second major decision in recent weeks that should be recognized and applauded by all of us. Her independence is refreshing and offers some hope that our members of Congress and the Montana Legislature will follow her lead and once again vote without mandates from their leaders.