Paul  Weyrich

Most of these proposed new regulations are, in theory, good ideas. The problem is that education was and will remain a local issue in spite of the Federal Government's attempts to micromanage every elementary and secondary school in the country. The variety and quantity of student and teacher needs are too numerous for the Federal Government adequately to address them. In fact, these proposals do little more than shuffle students through a monotonous, homogenous factory. There is no creativity; no focus upon improving the quality of local curricula and teaching; no flexibility for students whose interests may be as diverse as automobile mechanics, ancient history, biology, music or agriculture; and no ability to adapt to the needs of local communities. In short, everything valuable about local control of education is missing. It is what is missing, not what is included, that is necessary to improve American education.

Instead of a one-size-fits-all bureaucratic education plan, what we need are higher standards in the classroom, meaningful discipline, a return to rigorous curricula (including proper grammar instruction, the study of foreign languages and a return to primary sources in history rather than watered-down textbooks), better teachers, more parental and community involvement and greater flexibility to address local needs. These would begin the process of reforming American education. As it stands, it is highly unlikely that that expectations saddled to NCLB will be fulfilled.

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
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