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  • Washington's Education Policy Divide: Empower Parents or Bureaucracy?


    During a speech at an Arlington middle school earlier today, President Obama pushed for a reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the federal government’s largest involvement in K-12 education. According to the Associated Press:

    President Barack Obama is calling on Congress to rewrite the nation’s governing education law in time for a new school year next fall. It’s an ambitious timeline but one administration official says is necessary to start closing the achievement gap between American students and their counterparts in China and elsewhere.

    White House officials say Obama will lay out the goal in a speech Monday at a middle school in Arlington, Va., where communications and technology are a focus—areas Obama views as critical in a global economy.

    Over at Politico, conservatives have responded to the President’s push for bipartisanship through a reauthorization of NCLB, which is despised equally on both sides of the political aisle:

    A HOUSE GOP AIDE RESPONDS: If the President and his Administration are truly serious about working together on education reform with Congress, a good place to start would be saving the D.C. opportunity scholarship program that helps poor underprivileged children in the nation’s capital. The bipartisan bill introduced by Speaker Boehner and Sen. Lieberman puts the interests of children first. If the Administration can’t stand up to the unions on the Left who are opposing the easiest and most common-sense education reforms, there is no way we’re going to get anything done on an issue as difficult as fixing No Child Left Behind.

    It should be simple: Stand with the children and families of D.C. who have benefited so greatly by receiving scholarships to attend private school in D.C., whose lives have been transformed by the chance to receive a quality education, evidenced by their academic achievement advances and significantly higher graduation rates. Stand with the children who are safer and the parents who are more satisfied with their children’s educational experiences. Stand with the seven out of 10 D.C. residents who want to see the program continued and expanded, and stand with the D.C. city council—a majority of which want to see the program remain a thriving part of the District’s educational options.

    To do otherwise is to side with those last vestiges of opposition—special interest education unions—working against the best interests of low-income children in D.C. If bipartisan agreement can’t be found in the clear case of D.C. Opportunity Scholarships, it’s all uphill from here. The far more difficult work does indeed lie ahead in reauthorization of NCLB.

    The Obama Administration and conservatives may both agree that NCLB is broken, but the Administration does not believe that the federal role in education is fundamentally flawed. This disagreement will be the crux of the debate over NCLB—whether the Administration wants to recognize it or not—and will prove to be anything but a lay-up for those interested in reauthorizing the broken law.

    The conservative alternative to NCLB—allowing states to opt out of the many cumbersome and bureaucratic programs that make up NCLB—would ensure that state leaders have more control over their dollars and decision-making. It’s built on the philosophy that those closest to the child should have the most control over his or her education.

    The Obama Administration should come to terms with the federal government’s incapacity to improve educational outcomes. Washington’s failure for the past 45 years to improve education will not be fixed by continuing policies of the past and reauthorizing a broken law. States need options and children need choices. That’s a proposal that deserves bipartisan approval.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Washington's Education Policy Divide: Empower Parents or Bureaucracy?

    1. Judy says:

      The best way for Obama to help improve education would be simple. End the Department of Education permanently, and let the States decide how to handle the mess the Fed created.

    2. LibertyAtStake, Alex says:

      NCLB is FUNDAMENTALLY broken because it posits micromanaging local school performance from a remote, nationalized central bureaucracy. It should be killed altogether.

      Vouchers FUNDAMENTALLY work because they directly empower the consumers of the local service, and creates a competitive marketplace for the local suppliers. If the Dept. of Education were abolished altogether, and the savings divided among parents/guardians of public schoolchildren, as vouchers, public school performance would quickly and automatically increase dramatically.

      "Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive"

    3. Rick, Chicago says:

      Yet another approach to rush through legislative action (like ObamaCare), this will likely cause more problems than it solves. Ever since it was officially created by Jimmy Carter (the second worst POTUS after Obama), the Dept of Education is a budget eating monster that grows while the quality of US education continues to decline. While the teachers unions do prevent the firing of poor quality teachers and the concept of merit pay, I do not think that is the central problem. As the saying goes, "garbage in, garbage out." I believe I read a separate Heritage article that referenced the HUGE increase in children born to single moms – in 2009, that it was 41% compared to 5% in 1960. The percentages are heavily skewed to minority parents. Through NO FAULT of their own, kids are being born into homes that do NOT value education. For the most part, teachers cannot undo an unsupportive home environment, especially where that home is just one single mother that does not have a high school education. The FAMILY must be fixed first, and if it is, the quality of students (and EDUCATION) will improve. Perhaps we should adjust welfare and stop rewarding single moms who have multiple kids?

    4. Bobbie says:

      communications and technology are a focus? that depends on who's doing the communicating and who's programming the technology. Parents are treated as if they don't exist now, because of fed intervention, at the will of government indoctrination.

      Please remove the federal government from the minds of the youth. They'll never reach their potential, let alone their fullest.

    5. Bobbie says:

      Obama claims "WE CANNOT CUT EDUCATION!" Nobody is cutting education, Mr. President. People with the WILL TO TEACH THE YOUTH, aren't going to let benefits and pay come between them and their desire to teach the youth. It shows true sincerity and unselfishness.

      The expense of the results of failing grades and no achievement is unacceptable and not tolerated. So if those in position have a sincere will to teach to make a positive difference in the lives of the youth, the only cutting of education IS YOUR DOING!

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    7. Bruce Deitrick Price says:

      Somebody explain this. Isn't the real reason the Left hates NCLB is that it mandates a more scientific approach to reading, that is, phonics???

      The loons in the Education Establishment want the freedom to perpetuate Sight Words, Whole Word, and the rest. All over America, schools are still making little kids memorize Dolch Words. At that point reading is half-dead, like the future of the kids.

      All these obtuse discussions of policy are making me crazy because they are mostly irrelevant distractions. Reading, Writing and Arithmetic are 90% of everything. If we could make our education professors bother with doing their real job, I believe we'd see vast progress.

      Bruce Deitrick Price


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