What Will Campfield's Legacy Be? Certainly Not Education.



Today, yet again, on a national stage — this time NPR's Here & Now — Stacey Campfield made reference to "rocket surgeons." In that he doesn't expect poor kids he cuts benefits from to grow up to become "rocket surgeons." You'll recall that the last time this happened, when Jay Leno made fun of it, he claimed it was an "old joke." Or, you know, maybe it's just not that important to him to get things right.

His blog is less of an embarrassing mess than it has been in the past, but it still looks like the blog of someone to whom education isn't very important.

So, I can't help but wonder why Campfield is so hung up on the education of other people. If it's demonstrably not important to him — as evidenced by his casual acquaintanceship with spelling and grammar and what kinds of jobs are available for people on rocket ships — then why does he think it's so important to others?

I mean, it seems like you shouldn't try to have it both ways. If education is important to you politically, it should actually be important to you personally. And if it's not that big of a deal to you personally, why would you care what other people do?

The other thing that struck me as really odd about his Here & Now interview is that the things he's proposing would get you off the "naughty parent" list aren't equal. For example, you can go to two parent-teacher conferences or eight hours of parenting classes. Are these parent-teacher conferences each supposed to be four hours long? Or there's the possibility of tutoring or summer school. For the same amount of time? Or could you get away with an hour a week of tutoring, but be stuck in school all summer for full days? Is it just me or are the hoops parents have to jump through all odd sizes? I mean, a kid who needs summer school isn't going to be helped by his or her parents going to two parent-teacher conferences, you know?

Campfield keeps saying that this isn't about the kid, and frankly, I believe him. Because if it really were about helping under-performing kids, the things parents would have to choose from to do would all be equally beneficial to the child.

Instead, this — like so much of Campfield's legislation — seems purposefully designed just to make sure that someone is punished for coming to the attention of Campfield. That might get you national media attention, but so what? What happens to Campfield's agenda when he leaves office? Is he building a sustainable legacy? Or is he just getting his licks in while he can?

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