Change in federal ED should benefit North Dakota

The advent of Betsy DeVos to head the federal Department of Education has been met with controversy and gnashing of teeth, particularly from those resistant to change or evolution in how the nation’s children are educated.

Yet, the change at the ED might bode well for North Dakota.

President Donald Trump’s education agenda remains unclear, but there is enough there to make some assumptions based on his appointment of DeVos. School choice is likely to be the object of some discussion and potential policy, and federal interference in local schools is likely to be curtailed.

The former doesn’t appear as if it would have any real impact in North Dakota. We do not have the same challenges as large states with huge urban areas – our students are not wasting away in absurdly ineffective, even dangerous public schools while kids the next neighborhood over are going to bastions of learning. On the contrary, our schools are pretty solid.

However, reversing the tide of federal involvement will affect North Dakota, and for the better. Education has always been envisioned as a local responsibility. Yet, as the ED grew, little by little, so too did federal control of education, from standards to procedure. North Dakota school districts are simply better at running our schools than the federal government. Little things long forgotten in Washington DC – such as common sense – still dominate North Dakota culture; so too does problem solving and innovation.

In education, the federal government that governs least governs best. Whatever change to the ED that DeVos does bring, so long as it starts with a commitment to local control of education, North Dakota will be in a better position than it has been in recent years.

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