Like the rest of us, state and local policymakers across the country probably made New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier, exercise more, and finish those languishing projects around the house. Here’s hoping they’ll also add three education resolutions to their list.
The year 2012 will be pivotal for education policy. The leadership of state policymakers will determine whether the Obama Administration education overreach continues and whether last year’s school choice progress proliferates.
State and local policymakers should make the following three education resolutions:
1. Exit the Common Core National Standards
Last year, with little public notice, some state leaders jumped on the Common Core national standards bandwagon. The effort, supported by the Obama Administration, would nationalize the content taught in every public school across the country. It’s an effort that challenges education freedom in America and leaves local taxpayers on the hook for a costly new Washington overreach.
Thankfully, it’s not too late to reverse course. State leaders should take the following steps to exit the national standards boondoggle:
- Determine how the decision was made to cede the state’s standard-setting authority,
- Prohibit new spending for standards implementation, and
- Determine how to reverse course.
2. Reject Obama NCLB Waivers and Demand Genuine Relief from Washington
State and local leaders are rightly seeking relief from the onerous provisions of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The 600-page law (accompanied by thousands of pages of regulations) has burdened schools with bureaucratic red tape and a paperwork load requiring 7 million man hours per year to comply with Washington mandates.
Unfortunately, the Obama Administration is exploiting disdain for NCLB to rewrite the law from the White House. States will have access to the NCLB waivers only if they agree to the Administration’s preferred education policies, including common standards and assessments. The waivers are a Trojan horse that will bring more federal control over education and further bind the hands of state and local leaders in the long run.
State leaders should reject the waivers and demand genuine relief from NCLB through normal legislative procedure, including an option to opt out from the bureaucratic law entirely.
3. Expand School Choice Options for Families
This past year was a great one for school choice. Twelve states and D.C. either expanded or enacted entirely new school choice programs, providing tremendous educational options for families across the country and leading The Wall Street Journal to crown 2011 “the Year of School Choice.”
State leaders should resolve to continue the march of school choice in 2012 by expanding options such as school vouchers, tax credits, education savings accounts, and online learning.
With any new year’s resolutions, it’s important to set goals and stick to them. Conservative policymakers across the country should resolve to exit the Common Core national standards push, reject the Obama Administration’s NCLB waivers, and expand school choice options for families. These are three “edu-lutions” that would help restore state and local control in education and expand access to quality educational options for all children.