No Child left Behind (NCLB), the signature legislation of the George W. Bush Administration is now up for re-authorization. Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions overseeing this review, said recently that he wanted to “put the responsibility back with states and local school districts” to oversee public schools with as few mandates as possible from Washington. His draft bill proposal offers states the right to test annually, as the present law requires, or instead every three years. NCLB failed revision attempts in 2007 but is ripe for change now as it is so unpopular.
Who cares most whether Johnny can read, the federal government 2,000 miles away, or his mother? Who cares more whether Johnny’s friend can read, some bureaucrat in Washington D.C., or his community? School board members very likely have their own kids in the same schools and kids have their parents or grandparents overseeing their learning. Moreover, the community has access to board members at school games, on the street, or at the super market to complain to or praise. It does not get any better than this.
Constitutionally everything with respect to education, even it’s funding, was to come from the state and local governments. The “free” money offered by the federal government to steal state sovereignty duped politicians in the sixties, and today as well, into looking away from the Constitution as they, held out their hands to receive; and the benefiting group, the educational establishment, also with tin cups in hand, cheered them on. The argument that the federal government could manage learning better than state and local government is/has, and always will be, faulty.
After Lyndon B. Johnson effectively put the camels’ head (government power and authority), into the tent (education) there was no stopping its body following. President Jimmy Carter then established the Department of Education and progressively school boards have become largely “rubber stamps” as they are told by benefitting administrators that this and that regulation is federally mandated. Hopefully Congress will end authorization of their No Child Left Behind law returning education to the states and local government where it constitutionally belongs or at the very least propose an amendment to the Constitution authorizing federal take-over of education. It certainly could do so on the basis of the Constitution or on the damage it has done to our children and our schools.
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