State of the State
Governor Pawlenty gave his State of the State address today, and it was mainly focused on education. To be honest, I was not terribly impressed by the details of his plans, nor by the rhetoric.
I am not a huge fan of our current school system. In fact, I think it stinks in many ways. But Pawlenty's digs at schools seemed pretty sad. If you are going to bash schools, go all the way; don't talk about how students are "coasting" with backpacks full of papers. That is insulting to both teachers and students. Say that students are slackers because they aren't fluent in a language other than English by the time they graduate, or that they haven't taken mandatory AP classes, or that they got out of high school without four years of math, four years of science, four years of literature, and four years of social studies. Those are the standards you want to set.
I don't think I agree with his proposal to give schools with high ratings extra money. That just rewards the schools with the most resources to begin with. I would much rather see a system that rewards schools for the size of their improvement. A crappy school that drastically improves itself over a few years deserves much more support than a suburban school that starts out fantastic and doesn't improve much. I know that may not be popular, and I know it's very hard to come up with the right incentive program to reward and punish the right people, but basing it on raw scores is not a good idea. So the "three stars" plan is not a good one.
All day kindergarten? Yes, so why wasn't he supporting it? Why isn't he supporting investments in our transportation infrastructure? Or giving all kids health care? Because he's Pawlenty, I guess.
A property tax cap is a non-starter to me too. Look, Republicans: you can't have it both ways. Either you support a bottom-up government, in which case local governments can do whatever they want with property taxes, or you support a top-down government, where the feds and the states dictate what is acceptable and what isn't. Make up your mind. Personally, I support the bottom-up approach, and once upon a time Republicans at least paid lip service at least to that thought.
Other than that, there wasn't much interesting. Pawlenty sounds less Republican these days, but I still wouldn't turn my back on him.