The Sorry State of Education in America

During last night’s debate, President Obama touted the successes of his administration’s education policies and their cooperation with forty-six governors.  Specifically, he noted math and science as two major areas in which improvement can be seen.  He was making reference to the Common Core Standards Initiative.

How has the Obama administration accomplished this?  Through Race to the Top, the federal government persuades states to adopt these common standards by offering each state funding contingent upon their compliance with the standards.

Once the money is allotted to the states, is it used wisely?  $350 million of Race to the Top was earmarked for the funding of national assessments in math and English Language Arts (ELA) to ensure that they were all fitting into the federal government’s cookie cutter standards.  

What liberals do not emphasize is that “$14.5 billion in federal Title I money for low-income school districts could be tied to standards adoption and, more recently, the availability of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waivers conditioned on common standards adoption have coaxed many state leaders to go along with the overhaul.”

So, the federal government is spending billions of dollars on making sure schools adopt national standards.  But it gets worse, because “the math and ELA standards have drawn criticism from content-matter experts across the country and even from members of the Common Core standards validation committee.”

Heritage’s Lindsey Burke provides the following evidence from a former ED official:

“Former U.S. Department of Education official and mathematician Ze’ev Wurman notes that the math standards are deficient in several key areas. Notably, the standards do not expect students to learn Algebra I by eighth grade, which both ‘revers[es] the most significant change in mathematics education in America in the last decade’ and is ‘contrary to the practice of the highest-achieving nations.’”

Nevertheless, President Obama and his Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, have voiced their dedication to nationally imposed standards, which stifle innovation and meaningful reform.  Duncan said:

“We have 50 different standards, 50 different goal posts…We want to fundamentally reverse that. We want common, career-ready internationally benchmarked standards.”

So much for Justice Brandeis’s metaphor of the states as “laboratories” of democracy — or of any policy for that matter.  Just leave everything to Big Brother!  Anyway, it’s easier to indoctrinate (see global warming) your citizens when you control the content of what children are taught in their schools… Oops, did we just say that?  Yeah, just look at how much the federal government can advance their leftist liberal agenda through federally subsidized PBS and other ventures.

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