Federal Preschool Programs

Greater federal control is not the answer to improving the nation’s education system. And Rep. John Kline (R–MN) agrees. Speaking of the current push for states to adopt national education standards—specifically the federal government tying federal Race to the Top (RTTT) and Title I funding to states’ adoption of the standards—the Congressman told Education Week:

I’m very leery when [the action] shifts over to the U.S. Department of Education providing either rewards or punishment [for adopting certain standards]. That’s dangerous.

There is also funding, included as part of the federal RTTT program, to aid states in creating common assessments. Said Kline:

That’s not our job. … If you’re starting to put the federal government in charge of assessments, standards, you’re moving in a way that I don’t think Americans want.

Besides pushing states to adopt national standards, RTTT would tie states closer to Washington bureaucracy. Kline again:

This is the U.S. Department of Education, putting [out its] view of what needs to be done. … It’s not the states deciding. It’s not local control.

He noted that what the U.S. needs to do instead is reauthorize No Child Left Behind in such a way that gives states greater control. Unfortunately, he indicated that teachers and school administrators in his district aren’t too happy about the Administration’s current plans for reauthorization, stating that teachers in his district have “objections to anything … that comes in and tells them how to do their job.”

“One of the things that we’ve been insisting on,” Kline said, “is that we have to make it simpler, easier to comply with, and more flexible, therefore putting some meaning back into local control.”

National standards and RTTT would do exactly what parents, teachers, and communities don’t want: It would give Washington even greater power to tell schools how to do their jobs. Decades of increased federal red tape have not helped students succeed. The answer to education reform is greater local control. It’s time for Washington to step back and let parents, teachers, and states do their jobs.