Thursday, April 02, 2009
Would US Secretary of Education come down hard on Hawaii if Lingle diverts stimulus funds?
by Larry Geller
You’ve probably read at least one of the articles in our daily papers explaining how Governor Lingle plans to use federal stimulus money intended for education instead to help balance her budget for Hawaii.
The New York Times has an article on this which makes the US Department of Education reaction seem like schoolyard bullying, Education Secretary Says Aid Hinges on New Data (NY Times, 4/2/2009). It begins:
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told the nation’s governors on Wednesday that in exchange for billions of dollars in federal education aid provided under the economic stimulus law, he wants new information about the performance of their public schools, much of which could be embarrassing.
In a “Dear Governor” letter to the 50 states, Mr. Duncan said $44 billion in stimulus money was being made available to states immediately. To qualify for a second phase of financing later this year, however, governors will need to provide reams of detailed educational information.
The article hints at what could happen if Governor Lingle insists, as did Gov. Sanford of North Carolina, that she can divert the federal education funds to pay down state debt:
Speaking with reporters in a conference call, Mr. Duncan inadvertently demonstrated how the information collected from states could be used to try to shame educators and public officials into making changes.
Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, a Republican who advocates issuing taxpayer-financed vouchers that parents can use to send their children to private schools, has told the Obama administration that he would not accept some $577 million in educational stimulus money for South Carolina unless he could use it to pay down state debt.
Mr. Duncan unleashed a barrage of dismal statistics about the South Carolina schools, noting that only 15 percent of the state’s black students are proficient in math and that the state has one of the nation’s worst high school graduation rates.
This "shaming" is not a bad thing for Governors who support vouchers and/or Governors that are hostile to public education and to unionized teachers...