GET THE FEDS OUT OF OUR SCHOOLS!
By Alan Caruba
The first mistake, however, was made in 1979, when President Jimmy Carter signed the U.S. Department of Education into existence. The U.S. Constitution recognizes that education is the business of the states and local communities. Not once is education ever mentioned as a responsibility of the U.S. national government.
NCLB is one of those horrid monster federal programs that is always devoted to noble goals, spends tons of money, and achieves nothing of value.
EdWatch, a non-profit organization has been struggling for years to put the spotlight on a whole range of awful things being done to children in our schools, from encouraging the drugging of students deemed “over-active” to the introduction of a United Nations program teaching a one-world concept in conflict with the values of national sovereignty.
The No Child Left Behind Act is up for reauthorization and, as of this writing, not much is happening. Congressman George Miller, Chairman of the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee, has been circulating proposed changes designed to combat what he calls “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” That is clever rhetoric, but all parents and all teachers have high expectations. NCLB is the great leveler of expectations.
Most certainly, NCLB, for all its threats of retribution against any school that failed to improve, has proven “more shadow than substance,” according to an article in U.S. News & World Report.
Equally damning is the revelation by the Cato Institute’s Andrew J. Coulson, Director of the Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, who recently wrote:
In effect since 2001, the nation’s school administrators and teachers have long since learned how to game the NCLB system, but the losers are the students. Whether it is students for whom English is a second language and need extra help or whether it is exceptional students, both end up losing out because NCLB forces a single standard of proficiency on all students and schools.
Tom DeWeese, Founder of the American Policy Center, points out that NCLB (1) forces teachers to ‘teach to the test,’ rather than raise student achievement levels; (2) enforces accountability to federal agencies, rather than to parents, voters, and the local community; (3) is a federal curriculum robbing local control of schools; (4) requires yearly progress demonstrating all students achieve at a certain level, thus insuring that certain levels will either be impossible for every student to achieve or so low as to be meaningless. Or both. And, finally, (5) NCLB insures compliance with international United Nations programs that have no place in U.S. classrooms.
Anyone who has ever taught will tell you that students learn at their own rates and, in urban schools, students face a wide range of obstacles, beginning with broken families and dangerous neighborhoods. As the U.S. News & World Report notes:
If a school is failing, that’s the chief concern of the local board of education. It should not be subject to some federal program. The amount of money the U.S. central government spends on education is low compared to the amount spent at the state and local community level. Education is one of the prime elements of property taxes throughout the nation. These are local matters.
The intrusion of the national government into the education of children is just one more example of how big government has a genius for making anything worse than before.
Accountability for education should be to parents, voters, and taxpayers. NCLB literally removes the power of those most concerned from being involved in the process of their children’s education.
Finally, as noted, the goal by 2014 of having all students achieve a certain level is either going to be impossible or be set so low as to be meaningless, or both.
The best thing that Congress can do is to admit NCLB is a bad, flawed, failed program that should be discontinued. The worst prospect will be that more money will be thrown at it and the education of America’s children will be laid waste when Congress reauthorizes it.
A Practical Guide to Homeschooling
Alan Caruba is a veteran business and science writer, a Public Relations Counselor, and Founder of the National Anxiety Center, a clearinghouse for information about media-driven scare campaigns. Caruba writes a weekly commentary, "Warning Signs," posted on the Internet website of the National Anxiety Center, which is located at www.anxietycenter.com.
Caruba has a daily blog at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com.
Caruba’s new book, Right Answers: Separating Fact from Fantasy, has been published by Merril Press.
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