by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
After education issues proved crucial to Republicans’ upset victories in Virginia, GOP lawmakers are turning their attention to Democratic plans to put the federal government in charge of education.
Buried in the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act is a plan to nationalize preschool programs and place them under the direction of the Education Department. The bill would require governors to submit learning standards for preschoolers for the secretary of education’s approval, which detractors say would further the Biden administration’s reach into public schools across the country.
According to Rep. Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.), the plan to increase federal oversight of preschools is a natural extension of Democrats’ “far-left socialist tax and spending spree.”
“It gives the Biden administration complete control to approve the early education standards being taught to three to four years olds,” Stefanik said at a roundtable Wednesday hosted by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.). She pointed to Virginia governor-elect Glenn Youngkin’s (R.) successful appeal to parents to show that the Biden administration is “out of touch” with what Americans want in schools.
The Biden administration has repeatedly tried to extend federal control over public education. The Education Department in April proposed a rule to prioritize federal funding for education groups that help schools create lessons for elementary students based on “antiracism” and the New York Times‘s controversial 1619 Project. The Washington Free Beacon reported last month that the White House communicated with the National School Boards Association before the group petitioned the Justice Department to investigate concerned parents, whom it likened to “domestic terrorists.”
Stefanik also noted that Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in September refused to say whether parents were a “primary stakeholder” in their children’s education.