In a Politico interview yesterday, CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien provided some insight into herself. No, not in the part where she admits to cursing "all the time." It was her response to another question:
If you were the president of the United States for enough time to make only one executive decision, what would it be?
Improve public schools.
None of that preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States for Soledad. Or faithfully executing the laws. Or protecting our country from all enemies, foreign and domestic. Or serving as Commander in Chief.
O'Brien would improve public schools. As admirable as that goal may be, it isn't a principal responsibility of the president or the Federal government. Neither "schools" nor "education" appears in the U.S. Constitution. Even if one believes there is a legitimate Federal role, education is primarily a State and local responsibility. Who says so? Well, the U.S. Department of Educaton for one. From its Web site:
Education is primarily a State and local responsibility in the United States. It is States and communities, as well as public and private organizations of all kinds, that establish schools and colleges, develop curricula, and determine requirements for enrollment and graduation. The structure of education finance in America reflects this predominant State and local role.
It goes on to say that the Federal contribution to elementary and secondary education is a little under 8 percent of the total spent.
The Federal role in education was accelerated by the establishment of the Department of Education under President Jimmy Carter. The Washington Post noted at the time:
The creation of this department is a response by both the President and the Congress, to one specific organization, the National Education Association.
Former Representative Patricia Schroeder (D-CO) warned:
No matter what anyone says, the Department of Education will not just write checks to local school boards. They will meddle in everything.
That's precisely what happened. Although providing a small portion of education dollars, Washington's created a great deal of red tape and with dubious outcomes.
The president of the United States bears many responsibilities, but improving public schools should be far, far down on that list, if on it at all. O'Brien's statement epitomizes the mainstream media mindset that citizens should look to the Federal government for solutions. Based on results, that doesn't seem prudent.