The No Child Left Behind law is in the process of being rewritten in order to ‘improve’ it, according to the sponsors of the bill that would replace it. Under consideration is a 620-page proposal called the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), which Republican leadership says will scale back Washington’s involvement in local education.
But conservatives say the measure doesn’t go far enough in doing that. According to Lindsey Burke, The Heritage Foundation’s Will Skillman Fellow in Education:
This proposal spends nearly as much as No Child Left Behind, is nearly as long in page length, and fails to give states an option to opt out of the law. As it stands, it’s a huge missed opportunity to restore state and local control of education.
But one asks a further question: why is Washington even involved in local education? The Federal government’s thirst to permeate every part of American life has distorted the visions of the Founders.
The Founders believed in limited government with an equal balance of powers. In fact the men who wrote the Constitution saw the Congress as the primary driver of policy with the President executing the laws written and passed by them.
Instead, over the past 100 years we have evolved into a country with an imperial that has sprawled across the American landscape unchecked.
The system seems to be that when we have a problem we appoint a committee, create a new commission or set up a new Department. That’s how the Department of Education was founded.
Originally the Department of Education was part of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. During Jimmy Carter’s term the department was split in two with education becoming one department and Health and Welfare renamed the Department of Health and Human Services.
Upgrading Education to cabinet level status in 1979 was opposed by many in the Republican Party, who saw the department as unconstitutional, arguing that the Constitution doesn’t mention education, and deemed it an unnecessary and illegal federal bureaucratic intrusion into local affairs.
However many liberals and Democrats see the department as constitutional under the Commerce Clause, and that the funding role of the Department is constitutional under the Taxing and Spending Clause. The National Education Association supported the bill, while the American Federation of Teachers opposed it.
Like most departments and programs spawned by the Federal government the Department of Education grew like Topsy. In 1979 the predecessor Office of Education had 3,000 employees and a budget of $12 billion. In 1979 the department had a budget of $19.4 billion with $17,000 employees. As of 2011, the discretionary budget was $69.9 billion.
The main driver in the budget growth was the Bush-era No Child Left Behind bill. The Department’s budget increased by $14 billion between 2002 and 2004, from $46 billion to $60 billion.
With the explosive growth in the budget came the Education Department’s programs of unfunded and funded mandates. The liberals in the government see the Education Department as a vehicle to indoctrinate America’s youth to their way of thinking.
And right now they are succeeding. Every day we have new stories about teaching materials and methods being used by liberal teachers. The most inflammatory issue is Common Core. According to the website http://www.corestandards.org/, a site that supports Common Core. Their site says:
Today’s students are preparing to enter a world in which colleges and businesses are demanding more than ever before. To ensure all students are ready for success after high school, the Common Core State Standards establish clear, consistent guidelines for what every student should know and be able to do in math and English language arts from kindergarten through 12th grade.
The standards were drafted by experts and teachers from across the country and are designed to ensure students are prepared for today’s entry-level careers, freshman-level college courses, and workforce training programs. The Common Core focuses on developing the critical-thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills students will need to be successful. Forty-three states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity have voluntarily adopted and are moving forward with the standards.
Sounds wonderful but education is a local issue. No two states or even districts are alike but Common Core treats every student the same. In addition, some of the teaching methods and materials have been heavily criticized.
But Washington bureaucrats can not resist the opportunity to further control American life. Isn’t it time that citizens spoke out and petitioned their representatives to curb the power and reach of the Department of Education?