• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • The Obama Education Agenda Stays; Joyce Is Forced to Go

    What should a school principal expect after working “tirelessly” to help struggling students achieve? Certainly not to be asked to step down. However, this is exactly what can happen once the federal government gets involved.

    Despite support from parents, teachers, and administrators for Principal Joyce Irvine of Wheeler Elementary School in Burlington, Vermont, school administration is being forced to remove her. This is so the school will be eligible to receive federal stimulus money through programs such as the Obama Administration’s Race to the Top. Reports The New York Times:

    Ms. Irvine was removed because the Burlington School District wanted to qualify for up to $3 million in federal stimulus money for its dozen schools.

    And under the Obama administration rules, for a district to qualify, schools with very low test scores, like Wheeler, must do one of the following: close down; be replaced by a charter (Vermont does not have charters); remove the principal and half the staff; or remove the principal and transform the school.

    And since Ms. Irvine had already “worked tirelessly,” as her evaluation said, to “successfully” transform the school last fall to an arts magnet, even she understood her removal was the least disruptive option.

    The U.S. Department of Education refuses to take the blame for Joyce’s displacement, claiming that Vermont does not have to take federal money. However, because the state is accepting federal dollars, it is being made to play by Washington’s rules. Unfortunately, one-size-fits-all federal rules can all too easily back schools into a corner, as has happened in this situation.

    Beyond being obligated to conform to the turnaround measures, as in the case at Wheeler, the Obama Administration is also making federal funding contingent on states’ adoption of national education standards. Thus, states are not only being incentivized to comply with increased administrative control of their schools; they are also being strong-armed into allowing Washington to oversee what is taught in the classroom.

    Education reform is necessary—but not in the form of greater federal control. Manipulating states to comply with measures that take no thought of the unique needs of schools will only harm students, as Joyce’s story illustrates. Real reform gives greater power to key stakeholders such as parents, teachers, principals, and communities. On the other hand, if federal power continues to increase, cases like that of Joyce will likely not be uncommon.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to The Obama Education Agenda Stays; Joyce Is Forced to Go

    1. West Texan says:

      Why the hell are we being taxed by the federal government who in turn filters the money back to our local school districts with all their arm twisting tactics? Does something look stupidly backward here! As an income generating coerced taxpayer, I'm tired of "stimulating" big government's irresponsible and unconstitutional overreach into state and local affairs. The feds wasteful social spending spree has contributed to an ever growing deficit to be paid by future generations. Talk about adding further insult to injury. Enough is enough!

    2. Ralph Sivak, Califor says:

      Of course the school districts don't have to take the money, but with the majority of them running a deficit, they are pressured into doing so. Setting national standards based on tests, decreases the ability of schools to explore alternative avenues in providing a well-rounded education. They teach to test, and the children gain minimal understanding of the material. The current education system is flawed in its management.

      My daughter was having problems with school, turning in and completing work, taking tests, etc. We were involved and helped her everyday with homework, organizing, but allowed her to experience consequences of inaction. Her grades seemed alright, but then we were finding evidence of incomplete work hidden in her room. We found out that she was not turning in her work, but yet was receiving a minimum grade of 50%. How is that? She was allowed to retake her tests to improve her grade, but they were identical tests. All she had to do was memorize the answers without understanding the material.

      When asked about how this is possible, and how this is good for a child, we were told that without giving a child a second opportunity for tests or applying a minimum of grade percentage of 50%, to incomplete assignments, it is too difficult for children to improve on their grades before the end of the semester. They were preventing children from failing, but at what cost. They also were looking to change the grading scale where 60% was a "C" letter grade.

      This is so wrong. We don't want to see our children fail, but without failure how are they to learn perseverance and have a sense of accomplishment. Following these standards, only diminishes the value of education.

    3. Frank Meyer says:

      If a school district and parents value their freedom from federal strings, they will find means of doing without the taxing authority of the federal government to raise funds for their educational activities. The sooner the state and national governments exit from the business of running or subsidizing schools the better. Even more important than "separation of church and state" is the separation of schooling and state, at least if parents value liberty for themselves and their posterity. If they don't value liberty, then they can accept the fetters that power seeking centralizing authorities will be happy to fasten on them and their offspring.

    4. Bobbie says:

      Somebody must step in to stop this deliberate killing of minds…

      obama addressed the world stating he "would keep what works!"!!!!!!!!! He didn't lie. He just left out three words, FOR HIS AGENDA!!!!!!!!!!

      two different things! Much of the youth already has a socialist mind-set.

      Socialism is not freedom!

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×