Do we want the feds to run our schools?

Without discussion or debate, the U.S. education system is being nationalized, writes Marc Tucker, who heads the National Center on Education and the Economy, in the Los Angeles Times.

Historically, the federal government’s role was to aid, assist, prod and push schools, districts and states. But the key word was always “aid.” . . . The feds avoided interfering in any important way with the design of a state’s education system unless issues of civil rights were involved, and in those cases, it was generally the courts rather than the executive or legislative branches that sparked the intervention.

“The federal role in education has undergone a massive transformation” since the George H.W. Bush administration, Tucker writes. President Obama’s Education Department — acting independently of Congress and the states — is setting education policy for the nation.

(Policies) include national standards aligned with national tests, a push for evaluating (and rewarding or punishing) teachers based on their students’ test scores, and a strong emphasis on marketplace pressures, including charter schools, to ensure the survival of successful schools — and the failure of weak ones.

. . . Do we really want the executive branch of the federal government to decide, pretty much by itself, what the aims of American education should be and how they should be achieved?

It’s time to talk about the proper federal role in education policy, “before we wake up one day to find that the executive branch, or even the entire federal government, has become our national school board,” Tucker concludes.


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