Who should be in charge of your child’s education -- you or some strangers in Washington, D.C.? It’s a question worth pondering as Congress prepares to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law.
As readers of my book, Home Invasion, are aware, I’m a big advocate of what I call “parent-directed education.” We’ve done it all with our three teenagers: private school, public school, homeschool and even a combination of all three. Whatever form it takes, though, parental wisdom should take precedence. And decisions about how a school is run should be as “local” as possible.
NCLB fundamentally undermines the principles of parental choice and local control. As Heritage Foundation education analyst Dan Lips explains in a new paper:
"The Bush Administration's original blueprint for NCLB included some valuable reform principles, such as reducing bureaucracy, promoting state flexibility, and expanding parental choice in education. However, those valuable reform ideas were either watered down or eliminated during the legislative process on Capitol Hill in 2001. The bill that emerged from Congress greatly expanded federal power in education while doing little to eliminate bureaucracy, restore state and local control of education, or empower parents."
Sure, those who measure success by how much money is spent are pleased (though they always clamor for more). Federal spending on education has jumped considerably. The White House’s budget request for FY 2008 would boost NCLB spending to $24.4 billion, a 41 percent increase over FY 2001 levels. Again (in case you missed it the first time) -- they are requesting a spending increase of 41 percent!
We all know that you cannot fix the plethora of education problems by throwing more money at them. If you could, then public schools in the District of Columbia -- where per-pupil spending tops $13,187 -- would lead the nation in academic achievement.