In a Washington Examiner op-ed, Congressman Jack Kingston takes issue with how the President’s proposed 2015 budget distributes education dollars back to the states. Secretary of Eduction Arne Duncan will testify in front of the House Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee today, which Congressman Kingston chairs.
While acknowledging the benefits of formulaic spending, such as that used in Title I programs for the disadvantaged, he knocks competitive grant programs, including Race to the Top.
A competitive grant from Washington means states get to compete for their own tax dollars by kowtowing to Obama, Duncan, and their teachers’ union overseers. The Department of Education, by carrot and stick, can enforce their vision of schooling on classrooms throughout the country, all the while hiding behind it being “optional.”
These competitive grants reduce flexibility for parents and teachers while saddling a school with burdensome reporting requirements. Once a school “wins” a grant, it agrees to install Duncan as puppet master and remove parents’ voices from the classroom.
These grants do not come cheap to the taxpayer, either. The schools must comply with the grueling paperwork requirements attached to all government programs. This takes teachers out of the classroom and traps them in the break room as they report to Washington on how they are fulfilling the demands of federal bureaucrats.
One of the ways these competitive grants have gotten out of control, Kingston notes, is with the Common Core State Standards. He correctly points out that the 45 states and the District of Columbia that agreed to implement the standards received waivers from the previous No Child Left Behind program, along with additional education funding.
But, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. The redistribution of some $45.8 billion in education funding back to the states wastes money, and is a way for the federal government to get its preferred programs implemented. I’ve made the same argument with the way the government redistributes the federal gasoline tax. In both cases, getting the feds out of the way and letting the states decide how much to spend would be a better idea.
In the end, though, while the Common Core standards are being promoted by the Obama administration’s carrot and stick approach, they were developed independently from the Federal Department of Education. They were introduced at Gwinnett County’s Peachtree Ridge High School back in 2010 as part of a voluntary effort to ensure students learn the same concepts at each grade levels, no matter where they might live.
For those opposing Common Core, my question is whether you, like me, disagree with Washington setting the education agenda via competitive grants, or is it with the standards themselves?