by Lindalyn Kakadelis
Executive Director, North Carolina Coalition for Charter Schools
Today is the last day for public input on Sen. Alexander’s draft bill that reauthorizes the Elementary Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind). Chairman Alexander and his staff have asked for input from the public on his discussion draft by Monday, February 2 via the e-mail address: [email protected]. Comments will be shared with all members of the Senate HELP Committee.
Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation wrote about the reauthorization back in December:
Lawmakers should be pursuing bold education reforms, not searching out weak legislative compromises that fail to limit federal overreach. Congressional conservatives should take this opportunity to rewrite NCLB in a way that empowers state and local educators, not Washington bureaucrats.
I received a copy of one public response to Sen. Alexander’s request. It comes from a Mom, who is local school board member in Utah.
Dear Sen. Alexander,
Please do not adopt the current version of the ESEA reauthorization. Fast-tracking legislation only brings unintended consequences. While I welcome a change to NCLB, I want to make sure it is done correctly. Please Sunset ESEA, all the testing provisions, and use Title 1 funds specifically for low-income children via block grants to the states.
What I have found is that the current NCLB limits parental rights. I cannot control the standards or the testing. I can opt my kids out of testing, but it is difficult. In Utah, our children are taking tests for 7 days straight to comply with NCLB.
I, originally, thought there was nothing wrong with testing and teaching to a test. As my children have progressed through school, I have realize that testing is the enforcement mechanism of standards that are outside of my control, as a parent, and as a locally-elected school board member. We will have greater success, and greater ability to ensure our kids get what they need from their education when we include parents in deciding what information is of most worth to pass along to their children.
ESEA, college and career-ready standards (which really are only met by the Common Core Standards), all of these things dictate from the top, by a handful of people, what things should be taught to our children. What happens when those decision-makers focus on things that we don’t agree on? Dictating to all of us, who really should be making those decisions for our children is not a limited government position. With Republican control of the House and Senate, those of us who gave you this power are hoping you will go back to the original principles this country was founded on–protection of unalienable rights, and freedom for individuals to pursue happiness for ourselves and for our children.
Thomas Jefferson said, ” But if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by the governor and council, the commissioners of the literary fund, or any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward, it is a belief against all experience. Try the principle one step further, and amend the bill so as to commit to the governor and council the management of all our farms, our mills, and merchants’ stores. No, my friend, the way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to.” (Letter to Joseph Cabell, 1816) It was never the proper role of government, and especially the federal government, to dictate specifics on education. Jefferson continued, ” What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun ? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body…”
While I appreciate the concern that exists about the education of our children, the answer isn’t more standardization and more dictates from the top. The answer is returning control to the people. It may take a few years, but the 50 years we have had ESEA has not proven its worth. Give the people 5 years or so, and you will unleash, not only the free market, but the interest and love of all parents everywhere for their children. There is no higher power to improve education than a mother or a father.
Thank you for your service to our country. May God bless you in your efforts.
Wendy K. Hart Highland,UT Alpine School District Board Member