By Geoffrey Pike | Monday, November 17th, 2014
Most Americans know in their heart that the American school system is mostly a failure. It is a failure to the students and the parents, although it might be considered a success for some teachers and administrators that profit from the system.
Education in government schools has been centralized to a great degree over the last few decades, although there are still some differences between states, and even counties.
The latest interesting news in government education comes from Orange County (the Orlando, Florida area), where the school board recently announced that it will eliminate grades that fall below a 50 percent. The stated reason is to help students pass who instead might give up or drop out of school.
I guess you could say that the county is implementing the principles of “No Child Left Behind”. If you can’t get the students to be smarter or perform better, then just make it easier to pass. That is the easiest way to make sure that none of them get left behind, at least in terms of the government school system.
I suppose we should be happy that at least this is happening just in one county and that it isn’t being mandated by the federal government. But even here, we need to take a look at other government policies and how they encourage some of these local policies.
Centralization and Common Core
If you look at a copy of the U.S. Constitution, you will see nothing in it about educating children. Based on the 10th Amendment – which states that those powers not specifically granted in the Constitution should be left to the states or the people – the federal government should have zero involvement in education.
As a libertarian, I don’t believe the government should be involved in educating children on any level, but I recognize that if it were left to states and cities – as opposed to Washington DC – we would at least see a little more competition and a little less bureaucracy.
Instead we get things like “No Child Left Behind” and the Common Core curriculum. Common Core is an absolute disaster. It is not necessarily easy. In fact, sometimes it is too difficult for the age level. And it is often taught in a convoluted way – particularly the math – that even adults can’t understand it. It was obviously written by a bunch of bureaucrats.
There are also state standards where teachers are essentially forced into teaching to a test. The problem here is that it is a one-size-fits-all policy. It is also assuming that the tests were written by people who know what is best for the children.
So in one way, I actually sympathize a little with the school board in Orange County for trying to get rid of grades below a 50. They have been given garbage materials to teach and garbage tests to give out. We should not be surprised that this is happening and it will probably happen elsewhere.
In one sense, I like the Common Core only because it shows what a joke the government school system is. This is not at all a criticism of teachers. I think most teachers don’t like it at all, and for good reason. Some of the better teachers are even quitting or retiring early because of it.
We need to let the free market work. I understand that we aren’t going to get the government out of the education business overnight. The first step needs to be removing the federal government from education. With the failure of the Common Core, the federal government may be helping us do that. It is increasing homeschooling and it is frustrating parents.
We should not let a small number of bureaucrats in Washington DC dictate policies that apply to tens of millions of children. When that happens, you end up getting new policies such as the one in Orange County.
There is a lot of blame to go around with the failing school system. The problem is that it shouldn’t be a system. It certainly shouldn’t be a system run from the top down. We need more liberty and less government. Our children need that.