Utah’s Education Rebellion

Over at Reason magazine site, Cato’s Marie Gryphon looks at the implications of Utah’s challenge to the federal No Child Left Behind Act. On Monday, Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. fired the first shot in what may become a national rebellion against the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Resisting intense veto pressure from President Bush and federal regulators, Huntsman signed into law a bill that will prioritize Utah’s own educational goals over the mandates of the federal act. To preserve its freedom to chart the future of its schools, the Beehive State, Huntsman signaled, is willing to say no to Washington’s money. That’s not small change: U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings sternly warns that Utah risks losing up to $76 million in federal funds, or eight percent of the state’s education budget, if the law leads educators to disregard NCLB. But how much should Utah, and a growing number of other states, be willing to give up for the freedom to educate children without interference from federal bureaucrats? . . . That states like Utah are resisting such carrots and sticks is inspiring, and may signal a sea change in the relationship between the federal and state governments when it comes to money and influence. For half a century the federal government has used the power of the pocketbook, and the ability to borrow lavishly, to homogenize state policies about everything from schools to highways. The long run result is seldom better policy, because supplanting many state experiments with a single system thwarts the innovation that leads to improvement. whole thing here.