American taxpayers, businesses, and families are outraged by the nationalization of health care through Obamacare. They’re upset by the federal overreach, the loss of health care choices they’ll soon face, Obamacare’s astounding price tag, and the opaque process by which this massive legislation was enacted.
If they found Obamacare upsetting, then Americans should take a look at the Obama Administration’s overreach in education. Last week, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) did just that, examining the push for national standards during a meeting of its Education Task Force.
For the past two years, the Obama Education Department has been supporting an effort to implement national education standards and tests. The national standards push, which will affect all public schools, has been underway outside the normal legislative process. At least (to quote Jim Stergios of the Pioneer Institute) Obamacare went through Congress.
The push for what is called the Common Core State Standards Initiative began with the National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers in early 2009. The two groups drafted math and English language arts standards to define what every local public school in America would teach.
The Obama Administration joined in the effort right away, conditioning access to the $4.35 billion Race to the Top program on whether a state would adopt the new standards. Washington was now rhetorically and financially supporting the Common Core national standards, and it also set $350 million on the table to develop national assessments aligned to the new standards. President Obama also suggested in his “blueprint” to rewrite No Child Left Behind (NCLB) that federal Title I money—$14.5 billion for low-income schools—could be tied to adoption of the standards. And most recently, President Obama tied access to NCLB waivers to adoption of “college and career-ready” common standards.
Conservatives are concerned about this fast-moving effort to nationalize standards and tests. And last week, state leaders amped up the fight against more federal control of education.
At the ALEC meeting, model legislation was passed out of the Education Task Force that provides a blueprint for states that want to exit the national standards project and regain control over what is taught in local schools.
The freedom for a state to utilize model legislation from ALEC is very much unlike the Common Core national standards, which were thrust onto states by the Obama Administration under the threat of losing federal funding.
It’s time for state leaders to stand up to strong-arming from Washington, instead of faulting conservative organizations for pushing back on this latest federal overreach. A nationalization of education is underway, and unless conservatives work to fight Washington’s power grab, Obamacare won’t be the only overreach we’ll have to live under.