A CURIOUS INCONSISTENCY

Here is a post that reflects upon a curious inconsistency. How does an article in of our local papers begin?

It’s no secret that school officials and educators generally consider the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 to be onerous.

President Barack Obama appears to agree with that take.

Under a plan Obama announced last week, states will now have the chance to get waivers from some provisions of the law that, among other things, requires stu­dents have 100 percent proficiency in math and reading by 2014.

Manassas City Schools School Board Member Tim Demeria said lifting NCLB is a good thing because it was a “onesize- fit-all” program that measures end results rather than progress. (continued here).

Can we naively assume Federal officials or any government officials always have the best interests of our family and friends at heart? No. Too often people just want things their way. Here is an example. What must state governments do to get a waiver from President Obama?  They must qualify for the waiver.

States will receive a waiver if and only if they agree to certain conditions set by the Education Secretary. CNN calls those conditions “credible commitments to close lingering achievement gaps.” Conservatives call those conditions “strings attached” and “legislating through the executive branch.”

Chief among the administration’s stipulations for a waiver: The adoption of college-and-career-ready standards (a.k.a. national standards). National standards and tests might sound sensible in theory, but, in reality, they would strengthen federal power over education and weaken schools’ direct accountability to parents and taxpayers. Moreover, they would most likely lead to the standardization of mediocrity rather than the standardization of excellence. (from here)

If the Federal Government’s role in public education is not a “onesize-fit all” solution, what is it? Well, what the Federal Government does is needlessly involve distant political officials and bureaucrats in our schools. In return for a small sum of money, Federal officials dictate how our children will be taught and what our children will learn. We call these unfunded mandates, and nobody really knows how much they cost. Consider this excerpt from Federal Government Shouldn’t Mandate Kids’ Meals—or Their Education by the Heritage Foundation.

Additionally, one Virginia school district calculated that the price associated with NCLB was “equivalent to the cost of hiring 72 additional teachers…[ten] instructional assistants,…[and] four additional assistant principals” who could have had direct “interface…with the community’s children.”

Thus, it is no surprise that after five decades of ever-increasing federal involvement and spending, there has been virtually no increase in student achievement. Nonetheless, since the implementation of the first Elementary and Secondary Education Act (currently known as No Child Left Behind) in 1965, the government has taken the approach that greater federal involvement is the way to improve schools.

Fortunately, some of Virginia’s elected officials have started saying no. Here are a few examples from the last year.

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