Time for Local Control of Education

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Tell any American that we should have a National Religion and watch the sparks fly.  Americans have an instinctive – and healthy – aversion to the notion that there should ever be a national religion.  It has been drilled into our heads from an early age that the U.S. Constitution established healthy boundaries and limits for the federal government regarding religion.  Boundaries and limits are a necessary component to build and maintain any healthy relationship.  Should the relationship between the federal government and our children’s education be any different?

The Constitution imposes boundaries and limits on the federal government because the Founding Fathers understood the tendency of government to centralize power at the expense of citizens’ rights.  Significantly, while the Founders placed high value on public education, they left decision-making power over education at the local level.

The essence of the Founders’ vision for public education was codified into law via the Northwest Ordinance.  This law set aside land for public schools in every township of newly admitted states.  It also stated the purpose of education, and that clause is written into my state’s constitution.  Article VIII, Section 1, of Michigan’s State Constitution declares, “Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

It is safe to assume most Americans today would be surprised by the Founders’ stated purpose for public education.  It demonstrates their understanding that a causal link exists between educating American citizens and maintaining “good government.”  Not only that, it makes it clear that the Founding Fathers believed citizens should be educated in “Religion, morality and knowledge….” This purpose for education was codified into law just a couple years before most of the same national leaders ratified the First Amendment prohibiting the establishment of a national religion.

Think about that.  The Founders understood that “good government” may only be achieved and maintained by a citizenry educated in “religion, morality and knowledge,” and yet they explicitly prohibited establishment of a national religion.  They also intentionally kept the federal government out of the decision-making process for education (beyond the Northwest Ordinance’s provision of setting aside land for schools and stating the basic purpose of public education).

Where did we go wrong?  We deviated from the Founders’ policy of keeping the federal government out of education.  We have allowed smooth talking politicians, and the corporate lobbyists who influence them (many of whom represent those profiting from the cash cow of high-stakes standardized testing), to increasingly seize federal authority over our children’s education.  The Founders would be appalled by our failure to maintain healthy boundaries and limits on our federal government.

Jefferson, Madison and Washington would demand that decision-making power over education be returned to the local level.  Just as they cringed at the thought of establishing a national religion, they would equally cringe at the thought of establishing a national education, and we should too.

What institution leads the charge to establish national education?  Consider the following quote from Michael Hynes, Superintendent of the Patochogue-Medford public school system in Long Island, New York (as quoted in a blog post by former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, Diane Ravitch):

“My question is, when was the last time [the U.S. Department of Education] actually produced something positive for our children?… In practice, it has churned out one bad policy after another, policies that have been wreaking havoc on our public schools. This department has left a wake of children who have been tested to death and also degraded educators by reducing them to numbers…. What may have sounded like a good idea at the time, some 35 years ago, has proven to be both inefficient and unconstitutional. I don’t believe in federal control of our schools. I feel many of our parents and teachers can figure out for themselves how to educate our children. The challenge of a great education is best addressed as close to the student as possible. Local control should chart its own courses on education.”

It is time for a majority of Americans to support the Opt-Out movement, demand that we Stop Common Core, and do everything legally in our power to abolish the U.S. Department of Education.

It is time to restore local control over our children’s education.

Tim Keller
About Tim Keller

Tim Keller has taught American History, World History, government, writing, speech and related courses at both the high school and college level since 1997.

1 Comment on Time for Local Control of Education

  1. The dinner hour has become the national deprogramming hour.

    All across America, more and more, parents are discovering that their children are actually attending indoctrinating centers rather than schools … and hauling home the outrageous and almost always wrong, politically-infected version of all things. Perhaps Common Core’s lone, positive fallout is that it has revived the family supper.

    Common Core, at the moment, is bad stuff. But it has the potential to become extremely bad stuff. For months, in post after post and article after article, the great debate has been about various lessons and approaches that have emerged. Are they or are they not Common Core sanctioned? I used to think that was a valid question. Not any more.

    The very sponsors of Common Core hardly seem to mind these curriculum excursions into their absurdity … such as rewriting American history to coalesce with the current pc mindset. They seem barely shivered by eye-popping, stomach-churning developments in sex education … for the littlest of students … who are now exposed to startling information and vividly detailed sexual escapades … all under the guise of healthy living. The Common Core oligarchs seems somewhat soothed by the politically charged alterations to historical documents and events … provided they tumble to the left of center. In short, Common Core’s whoop seems to be … “Open sesame” … everything and anything is up for “reform”.

    Anyone and everyone seems welcomed in the Common Core tent of the macabre. If you’re up for skewering America and its history, hop on board. If you’re inclined toward seedy sexual stuff … welcome home! If you’re in favor of disrupting and disturbing a particular activity like coal or petroleum production … or sanctifying every tree and bog and swamp … then there’s a slot for you in the Common Core mayhem. Itching for a fight about who should control nutrition for kids? You’re welcomed aboard. Cranky about about tenure or teacher sovereignty in the classroom? All aboard. It seems anyone with a beef gets a plate at the Common Core buffet of all-you-can-eat nonsense.

    Got beefs? Maybe against the military or the Tea Party? Scribble out a unit or a lesson package. You’re in. Got hang-up about climate change or homosexual marriages? Fire away. Got a bug up your nose about Christianity or religion in general,? Just punch out a screed about fanatics and zealots and it’ll find it’s way into Common Core.

    The point? Common Core has given educational cover for a slender minority to pollute the actual education environment with any issue whatsoever … and it seems to give those issues … no matter how hair-brained or offensive … a certain legitimacy. Common Core has become the new “open sesame” because, by its very nature, it suggests that what is, is not acceptable. America must be altered, changed, renovated, rejuvenated, redirected … and most especially … cured. But only if those cure pass a certain muster.

    Esteemed historical figures are pilloried at the politically-correct whipping post. Historical documents … which foundationed this nation for centuries … are now seen as attic junk … to be recycled according to the “New Nonsense” of the day.

    This is no time to hail this nation. Nope. It needs to be SHAMED. Made to appear as sinful as any other on the planet. It’s time to excoriate those blasphemers who think this is an exceptional nation based on a unique set of principles because, well, it makes us standout a bit too much from the rest of the miserable world. And we can’t have that. No, siree. We’re even cajoled to empathize with the new medievalists … currently on a head-collecting mission in the sands of the Middle East … who will one day rocket us into a modern armageddon of real life-or-death preservation. It now seems wiser to “understand” our enemies than to even question them … to search for the vomit-inducing “root cause” of their bloody neo-medievalism. Ever think we might be playing with a modern Ali Babba who isn’t so randy and dandy as the fictional one of yesteryear? I think not.

    In schools today, Christianity is viewed as a dangerous cult, personal responsibility has been replaced by an all-knowing, all-soothing government, and espousing contrarian points of view will get you tattooed as a racist, a xenophile, a homophobe, a sexist, a capitalist-pig, a neanderthal … or a dastardly conservative. Common Core has opened the flood-gates for every miscreant with a special beef to step forward and set the record unstraight … because that is part and parcel of the New Nonsense.

    And beware what college claims both your child and your family fortune … because almost all of them are indoctrinating, finishing schools of the very worst sort. You might not recognize the kid who returns home.

    Make time for dinner … and save your child. Often. View each bread-breaking opportunity as if it was the last supper.

    Denis Ian

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