By Wesley Coopersmith
The Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, is not the only piece of legislation President Obama and his administration has fumbled the football on. According to Dennis Van Roekel, the president of the National Education Association (NEA), the rollout of new Common Core academic standards has been “completely botched” in multiple states throughout the country.
Common Core’s failed launch not only highlights the incompetency of President Obama and his administration. It also confirms that a federal one-size-fits-all approach to education is not the answer to meaningful education reform.
We know that a federal approach to education reform does not improve quality of education, but that hasn’t dissuaded Washington, DC educrats from pushing ahead. Over the past two decades the federal government has raised academic standards five times with little to no success. President Clinton’s Goals 2000, President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act, and President Obama’s Race to the Top have all proven disastrous.
When President Obama announced his new Common Core academic standards, he attached a waiver to the No Child Left Behind Act and offered $4.35 billion Race to the Top grants to incentivize states to adopt his new standards. Some 45 states decided to adopt Common Core, unwilling to deny themselves access to billions of education funding and a waiver to a disastrous federal education mandate.
But along with these goodies and new standards come federal control over state education. Common Core is taking away control from state and local educators and putting it in the hands of federal bureaucrats. Instead of letting local school boards, teachers, and parents have the greatest say in their children’s education, the federal bureaucrats and a mandated top-down curriculum will determine what millions of children across the country learn.
NEA president Dennis Van Roekel told Politico this week that 70 percent of teachers believe Common Core implementation is going poorly and 2/3 of teachers say they have never been asked to give input on how to introduce the new academic standards. This is exactly what happens when the federal government mandates education programs-local teachers who have local knowledge of what their students need are bypassed in favor of federal bureaucrats.
Worse, states are forced to administer outdated and irrelevant tests to satisfy federal requirements due to the rocky rollout of Common Core. Dennis Van Roekel complained, “It’s beyond me how anyone would ask teachers to administer tests that have no relation whatsoever to what they have been asked to teach.”
The federal government’s continued failed approach to education reform must stop. Centrally controlled education administered by the federal government has failed in the past and will continue to fail in the future.
Education reform that leaves educational choices in the hands of states, localities, and most importantly families, is the best way to ensure maximum flexibility for communities to meet their diverse educational needs.
Let’s get the federal government out of education before state governments are forced to spend another $16 billion of taxpayer money on failed federal education experiments.