Soviet Style Planning in the Good Old USA?
By Jamie McKenzie (About author
Top down, federal dictation of educational policy is fundamentally un-American and undemocratic. For decades we were raised to view the Russian and Chinese state management of economies and societies as a bureaucratic nightmare.
"Big government is bad," we were told. "Bureaucrats are too far from the people they serve. Their rules are rigid. They make decisions without understanding their impact."
The best policy is made by those close to the schools and the businesses of the land. Let state politicians make the laws and regulations for schools and businesses except in rare cases when there is some special national interest as in the case of the stock market (The Securities and Exchange Commission) or radio and TV (The Federal Communications Commission.)
Huge national bureaucracies, we were told, would bog down in red tape and ill-conceived master plans that would never match the superior results of local government and free enterprise.
When the Berlin Wall came tumbling down and the USSR and China embraced capitalism, we cheered the end of Five Year Plans and Stalinesque approaches to managing economies.
Now in 2005 we find ourselves suffering through a bureaucratic nightmare of federal planning for education that suffers from many of the same weaknesses we expected from Stalin's heavy-handed, overly centralized controls.