The Washington Examiner published an editorial yesterday shortly before President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, has her confirmation hearing before the Senate HELP committee today.
They bring up a good point in regards to the school choice push they both will bring to the federal level.
They must heed the lessons of Common Core and No Child Left Behind. Both began as well-intentioned efforts to increase accountability and raise academic standards. But they mutated into top-down, one-size-fits-all policies, federal boondoggles. Local education activists quickly identified major problems such as too much testing, redundant programs and the crowding out of successful curricula or standards. But they faced an unstoppable federal juggernaut when they pushed back.
I disagree with their premise that Common Core and No Child Left Behind were “well-intentioned.” Perhaps by some who advocated for it. Race to the Top was designed as a federal stick to coerce states, and the owners of Common Core (National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers) asked for it. So this talk that Common Core became “a federal boondoggle” is simply nonsense. It was always a boondoggle. No Child Left Behind also represented federal overreach. So is statism ever well intentioned?
Outside of the premise the warning is sound. Federal overreach is federal overreach whether it’s “our” program or not. There is simply very little that the federal government can do to directly push school choice to the states beyond just getting out of the states’ way.