It’s back to school time for students across the United States, and no doubt parents and students are hoping for a successful year. But what does the Obama Administration have in store? Heritage’s Kids Deserve Better: Stopping the Obama Education Agenda Factsheet has the answers.
A Reckless Spending Spree
Since 1970, federal spending on education has tripled. However, test scores have flatlined and graduation rates haven’t budged. Yet the federal government continues to pour increased amounts of money into education, including $100 billion from the 2009 stimulus bill and an additional $10 billion in an education bailout passed just weeks ago.
This increase in federal funding serves only to line the pockets of bureaucrats and teachers unions and heightens Washington’s authority. At the same time, it takes control from parents and does nothing to boost student learning.
Keeping Students in Failing Schools
And despite lagging student achievement, the Obama Administration is making it more difficult for children to leave failing schools.
The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program—a voucher program that has significantly boosted student scores and increased graduation rates for low-income students—is being phased out by the Administration. Instead of considering the well-being of students in some of the nation’s worst schools, Washington politicians are bowing to the demands of special interest groups.
Another Washington Takeover
If all this isn’t enough, Washington is rolling out plans to increase control over what students learn in the classroom by promoting national education standards.
They are pushing these standards by tying federal education funding to states’ acceptance of these standards. First, the Obama Administration’s flagship education program, Race to the Top, has required states to adopt the national standards if states wish to increase their chances of winning federal grants. Second, the Administration’s education blueprint would make Title I money for low-income schools contingent on a state’s adoption of the standards. If national standards are put into practice, parents would be forced to petition federal bureaucrats and politicians, rather than their local school boards, if they have a problem with their children’s curricula.
A Better Course Forward: Empowering Parents and Local Leaders
Instead of increasing federal control—not to mention the federal deficit—with inefficient education spending and at the same time trapping students in failing schools, the Obama Administration should pursue a course that empowers parents, students, and communities. States should be given autonomy to direct education resources to local needs. Furthermore, parents should have the opportunity to send children to a school of their choice via voucher programs like the successful D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. Finally, parents and communities should be the ones to make the decisions regarding what their children are taught in the classroom.
An education agenda that serves only to empower bureaucrats and politicians will never improve children’s education. It is time for the federal government to step aside and give authority back to parents and local leaders.