We've spent $2 trillion on education since federal aid began in 1965. The specified goals were to improve student achievement, eliminate or narrow the gap between upper-income and low-income students, and increase graduation rates from high school and college.
We have little or nothing to show for the taxpayers' generosity. Even Education Secretary Arne Duncan admitted that 82 percent of public schools should be ranked as failing.
So how will the army of educrats, whose jobs depend on billions of dollars of federal handouts, save their jobs? They've come up with an audacious plan that pretends to be useful in enabling them to discover what works and what doesn't, but it is so large and complicated that it would take years and require a huge computer-savvy payroll and billions of taxpayers' dollars.
And incidentally, it would be illegal because it's based on using executive branch regulations to override federal statutes.
This plan calls for a computerized system to track all Americans from cradle to grave by cross-linking all their school and college academic and extra-curricular records, including tests and appraisals by supervisors and peers, with health, welfare, employment and income data. The data gatherers used to talk about collecting K-12 data, and then they moved to Pre-K-16, and now their lingo is pre-birth to entry into the workforce.
States already collect a lot of data that have nothing to do with students' academic achievement, including Social Security numbers, family income, medical exams, and criminal and administrative penalties. Now the plan is to enter additional data on preschool experience, prenatal care, daycare, early childhood education and after-school activities.
This plan would computerize and combine information not only from the Department of Education, but also from the Department of Health and Human Services (which would include Head Start, WIC, Parents as Teachers and after-school programs) and from the Department of Labor. The goal is to give the government access to a giant computer data warehouse with personal information on all children.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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