President Obama and his administration have mostly escaped criticism during the week-long Education Nation series on NBC. But outside the friendly confines of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, there’s a different view of the Obama administration’s desire to centralize control in Washington, D.C.
While an alarming number of states have signed on to Obama’s education agenda — which seeks to consolidate power with federal bureaucrats — some leaders are willing to take a stand. Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) is one of them. He has led the opposition to national education standards. He makes a powerful and principled case for protecting local control and preserving federalism. Perry spoke exclusively to Heritage about the issue.
The administration has used its Race to the Top grant program to quietly convince 34 states to support national standards. Congress had no say in the matter. In fact, the standards were developed by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers.
“The fact is,” Perry said, “that Washington’s Race to the Top, with their national standards, and their national testing — yet to be worked out, of course — we think would be devastating to the young people in the state of Texas.”
Equally troubling for Perry is the process by which the Obama administration has persuaded states to support its education agenda. By dangling money before cash-starved states, many governors jumped at the chance to compete for Race to the Top grants. Perry wasn’t enticed. “Why would we trade our ability to educate our children for some faceless bureaucrat in Washington, D.C., for, frankly, a small amount of money in the grand scheme of things?”
Perry might be the most vocal, but he’s not alone. After the first round of Race to the Top concluded, nine states had reconsidered and, for a variety of reasons, chose not to participate in the second round of competition. States with high standards — notably Massachusetts and Virginia — have expressed concern about moving backward. Still, it’s an uphill battle.
Perry recognizes the challenge, but remains hopeful that a new crop of governors might next year reconsider ceding so much control to the federal government.