'Race To The Top' Is Fixed: Just Say No!

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When the federal
government decides it’s too risky to usurp the powers reserved
to the states respectively, or to the people with outright force
or fraud, it often employs a softer approach involving bribery.
It should surprise no one that the Department of Education (DOE),
under President Obama, is at it again.

The Obama administration’s
“Race To The Top” (RTTT) stimulus grant program should
really be called the “Race to Nationalize Education.”
Like the Bush administration’s “No Child Left Behind”
program, it is nothing but another measure designed to enable the
central government to take over control of our local schools and
establish a government of occupation in the territory that exists
between our children’s ears.

According to
a DOE
press release
, the “centerpiece of the Obama administration’s
education reform efforts,” in its “$4.35 billion RTTT
program, “..will include adopting internationally benchmarked
education standards.”

The question
immediately arises, “What are internationally benchmarked standards?”
The word “international” often sends shivers down the
spine of many conservatives who understandably worry about the loss
of American sovereignty.

It turns out
that the former Governor of my state, Janet Napolitano, now turned
Homeland Security overlord, was one of the Co-Chairs of the International
Benchmarking Advisory Group. However, I must admit that after reading,
Benchmarking
for Success: Ensuring U.S. Students Receive a World-Class Education
,”
which was a 2005 joint report published by the International Benchmarking
Advisory Group, my level of concern was actually reduced from what
it was initially.

Besides having
a lot of nice pictures of children holding globes and smiling at
the spherical representation of the earth, there was a lot of bad
news about how far American kid’s lag behind those of other
developed countries in math, science, reading and problem solving.
But the report didn’t state that we needed to teach more about
global warming, population control, world government, or the United
Nations. In fact it seemed like a very reasonable appeal for states
in the U.S. to adopt basic educational standards that would match
those of other developed countries.

It’s not
the “international benchmark” standards that we ought
to object to. It’s the central planning of our children’s
education and the loss of parental and local control over those
standards that ought to bother us. One could argue very persuasively
that international benchmark standards should become our state’s
educational standards for K-12. Perhaps this would be a good idea.

What all people
should all recognize, however, is the failure of large-scale central
planning when it comes to meeting our economic needs or our educational
needs. In fact, if there was one thing that caught my attention
when looking at the countries in the report that consistently outranked
the U.S. in academic performance, it was the fact that nearly all
of them were small, both geographically and in terms of population.
Canada was the most notable exception in terms of geography, but
as of 2009, it had under 34 million people compared to over 308
million that live in the U.S. today.

So what does
this point to in terms of human scale as it relates to academic
excellence? With the sole exception of Canada, the world’s
best performing students have their schools run by people who live
closer to and are probably more accountable to their parents. The
difficult and controversial decisions, such as what kind of education
our children should receive, how many hours per day and how many
days per year our children should attend school are best made close
to home.

Lots of people
in their own areas have met their Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Few have met Obama’s Education Czar.

The result
of accepting RTTT funds is described by Prof. Allen Quist, Professor
of Political Science at Bethany Lutheran College. He writes, “This
[RTTT program] will create a de facto federal curriculum. The Department
of Education will financially reward those states that teach what
DOE wants [to be] taught.”

Do you, as
a citizen of your state, want the children of your state to be taught
what the government that rules us in Washington, D.C. wants them
to learn? Or would you rather have them learn what you as a parent,
grandparent, employer or just plain concerned citizen of your own
state want them to learn? Who should decide?

Although it
shouldn’t come as any great surprise, Arizona Governor Brewer
chose to go after the carrot on a stick placed in front of her by
our central planners in Washington. In fact, she and Dr. Duvall,
Mesa School District Superintendent and Special Advisor to the Governor,
wasted no time in creating a plan to apply for and comply with the
terms of the RTTT grant.

According to
the Arizona Education Network, “In order to apply for a Race
to the Top grant, local education agencies (LEA’s) – public
school districts and charter schools–have to fill out a participation
agreement outlining specific actions to be taken under the four
reform areas, as well as a memorandum of understanding. Arizona
plans on meeting the January 15, 2010 federal deadline for funding.
The winning states will be announced in April and if Arizona is
chosen, school districts and charter schools would have to submit
a written plan within 90 days. Implementation would take place in
August/September 2010. If Arizona is not chosen in the first round,
the state can reapply in June, 2010.”

Read
the rest of the article

January
25, 2010

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