Profiles in Courage

Today's political hero is Delaware state Rep. Deborah Hudson, R-Fairthorne, for saying the following:

"The General Assembly made a ridiculous decision and approved the three-tiered diploma. … I apologize. I voted for that. It was in haste. We didn't know what was going to happen."

The three-tiered diploma refers to a recent Delaware initiative to enforce "standards" and "accountability" in the state's high schools. Based on their performance on a standardized achievement test taken in the 10th grade, students would be put on track to graduate with one of three different, "tiered" high school diplomas, ranging from the "basic" to the "distinguished."

The idea blew in with lots of rhetoric about reform, achievement, higher standards, accountability, yada yada. And since no one wants to seem to oppose anything so high-minded, the tiered-diploma system breezed through the state's General Assembly and was quickly signed into law by the governor. It was only then that anyone began taking a closer look at what the tiered system would actually mean and do, and the backlash has been steadily growing.

(This should all sound familiar if you've been paying any attention to the federal "No Child Left Behind" story.)

As News Journal columnist Al Mascitti put it, the system has only proved unpopular with three groups, but those groups turned out to be parents, teachers and students.

The tiered system has thus become a kind of political orphan. It was approved by a majority of the legislature, but those same lawmakers are now rushing to pass a moratorium to prevent the system from taking effect. Rep. Hudson is therefore only saying what everyone else is thinking. She's just the only one with enough candor to put it this bluntly:

"The General Assembly made a ridiculous decision and approved the three-tiered diploma. … I apologize. I voted for that. It was in haste. We didn't know what was going to happen."

As the federal budget deficit swells to half a trillion dollars a year, wouldn't it be nice to hear someone in Congress say something similar?

"Congress made a ridiculous decision and approved the [repeal of the estate tax/pharmaceutical-subsidizing Medicare bill]. … I apologize. I voted for that. It was in haste. We didn't know what was going to happen."


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