Uncle Tom's latest blunder

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Secretary of State Uncle Tom Blackwell is a huge fan of the one-size-fits-all solution to complex problems. It matters not that his plans never work -- and often entail disaster. The Tomster's lone pursuit is offering wonderfully simplistically ideas on the campaign trail. (That's What Jesus W0uld Do.) And since he wants to be Ohio's next governor, he's been loading up with idiot notions this campaign season. Blackwell's latest adventure is the 65 percent solution. By mandating that 65 percent of a school's budget be spent on instruction, he hopes to resurrect Ohio's wretched public school system -- motto: "No, really, we're way better than Albania" -- through the miracle of gimmickry. But, alas, Tommy possesses no evidence that this actually improves learning, and many believe it will only hamstring school leaders with yet another regulation -- something Tommy's supposed to be against. In fact, his latest idea is so bad that even Republicans think he's a moron. Wrote Rod Paige, George W. Bush's former Education Secretary, in a June New York Times op-ed piece: "One of the worst ideas in education is coming from conservatives: the so-called 65 percent solution... such laws won't actually make schools any better, and could make them worse ... The most likely outcome is that school officials will learn the art of creative accounting in order to increase the percentage of money that can be deemed 'classroom' expenses. More ominously, it will tie school leaders' hands at a time when they need more freedom to innovate. Things we should be stressing, like teacher training, online content to supplement lessons and after-school tutoring, would not fall under ''classroom expenses." If we understand this right, we're pretty sure Paige isn't offering a ringing endorsement. -- Pete Kotz

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