One of the biggest mistakes of President Ronald Reagan was a failure to deliver on his promise to abolish the federal Department of Education.
When you hear someone mention that today, he or she is regarded as a complete nincompoop, who has little regard for children.
Most people don’t remember life before the federal Department of Education. It was created in 1979 by Jimmy Carter, and we did quite well without it.
In fact, the Department of Education has only two official functions: to advise and to gobble tax dollars. It failed miserably at the former and succeeded extremely well in the latter. In 1979, the Education Department had 3,000 employees and a budget of $12 billion. Today it has over 5,000 employees. The current budget request calls is for over $71 billion in discretionary funds, $7 billion in mandatory funding and additional funding to “reform the teaching profession” and for a new “universal” preschool, bringing the total for the department to roughly $100 billion.
What do we have to show for all this meddling? Just about every measure of educational achievement has remained flat, flat, flat as have high-school graduation rates.
Furthermore, the tests used to measure achievement in this country have been dumbed down to the point where students graduate from our pubic schools who can barely read their diplomas much less do basic math.
Why? Federal meddling and the ceding of public education to a union more interested in creating and protecting the jobs of more and more public school teachers (and making sure they aren’t tested for competency or rewarded for excellence) than they are about the business of educating students.
As a result, good teachers’ hands are tied. They cannot adequately discipline students or hold them accountable for poor performance. Students are simply passed on and, if they show up, they eventually graduate.
Despite leading the world in education spending, in international tests the U.S. comes up short, way short.
The answer from the Obama administration was similar to his answer for every other problem: more government intervention.
George W. Bush’s misguided “No Child Left Behind,” which allowed states to set their own standards, gave way to Obama’s “Common Core Standards,” or ObamaCore as it has been dubbed by opponents.
If “No Child” was government meddling, ObamaCore is government meddling on steroids. What exactly are the new “standards”? Like Obamacare (we have to pass the bill before we can find out what’s in it), states were required to sign on before the new “standards” were released.
The method used to achieve control of our schools is money. States that agreed to impose the tests as a requirement for a diploma get a pile of government money, and the tests are used to force a new curriculum on everyone, without any input from parents, teachers or local legislators. That effectively puts private, religious and even home schools under the thumb of the federal government.
It gets worse. Under ObamaCore, government agencies are to gather and store all types of sensitive information on every student from birth through all educational levels. Furthermore, this information can be shared with other agencies both public and private.
The ability to track children in this way is a mandate in the U.N. Convention of the Rights of the Child, an onerous treaty signed by Clinton-era Secretary of State Madeleine Albright but, thankfully, never ratified by the United States. President Obama has called our failure to ratify the UNCRC “embarrassing.” It appears, he plans to implement it through the back door. Big Brother has given way to Bigger Brother.
Now that two of the standards are finally available, they have many education experts up in arms. The math standards are so poor, the only mathematician involved in the process refused to endorse them. In English, the classics are out. Informational texts are in. Among the suggested texts: The “problem” of global warming, the case for centralized (government controlled) health care and the importance of certain U.N. treaties that undermine our freedoms. Are you beginning to get the picture?
There is a reason our Constitution did not give the federal government the right to exert this kind of control, and our laws specifically prevent the feds from mandating, directing or controlling a school’s curriculum. If you can control a national curriculum, you can control the populace.
Bill Gates has put a lot of money behind this effort, as well as the Carnegie Corporation and News Corp mogul Rupert Murdoch.
Maybe their motives are completely altruistic. Then, again, maybe not.
Bills to reverse state decisions to accept ObamaCore have been filed in seven states. Hopefully, more will follow.