Thursday, January 16, 2014

State constitutional mandates putting education as #1 can be problematic

Some states, like here in Washington, have constitutions that say education is the number 1 paramount duty of state government. While education is important, this old edict can be problematic as it doesn't necessarily mean that the state budget gets larger. Sometimes it just means that education crowds out other important state functions, such as survival needs of low income people, public safety, parks and the environment as well as roads and infrastructure. It's all important. Also, here in Washington at least, the constitutional mandate only applies to K-12 education and still leave higher education outside that box.

Education is important, but the rest of society needs to be functioning as well. Just about all of society can be seen as part of the educational process. Access to healthcare can mean the advise of doctors in diet and lifestyle; important education. Parks can mean museums and interpretive centers which can be highly educational. They can help teachers and schools with field trips, for instance. Public broadcasting, educational content on the internet, it's all important. Yes, schools are important, but sometimes an old constitutional mandate becomes problematic; like a straight jacket, especially if there is nothing to increase overall revenue.

No comments: