Readers of this Blog know I have a keen interest in education policy. I’ve seen it work–or not work actually–as a parent as well as a member of the Knox County Board of Education. I’m leery of local politicians not heeding the advice of Sam McKenzie to “stay in our lane” when it comes to running the schools. Some local career politicians like to grandstand on their opinion of the day-to-day operation of our school system(even though that’s clearly not their job and and they’re not qualified to run a school system with 50,000 students). But believe me: they’re not actually moving the needle on education–on making things better for students and teachers, as opposed to using our schools (and children) to score the cheapest of political points. You’d think local politicians–even those who’ve always made a living off their government paycheck or government contracts) would care enough to try to make meaningful changes. But as it is, our local elected officials are too busy with useless posturing than actually doing anything. In this rare case, real–significant and tangible–change is coming basically from the top-down: from the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Pensions and Labor Committee Chairman, our very own Lamar Alexander.
The Every Child Achieves Act, Alexander’s fix to No Child Left Behind and antidote to a broken, federalized school system, is ready to come before the full Senate any day. One of the biggest things Tennessee conservatives–and maybe especially teachers– will be proud to see? An end to the federal mandate on Common Core.
Over the past several years, the heavy hand of Barack Obama’s Washington has acted like a National School Board, as Lamar calls it, strangling our local schools with federal mandates and making it harder for them to focus on educating our students. This began when George Bush signed into law then-Senator Ted Kennedy’s No Child Left Behind. I served on the Knox County Board of Education–I have seen how the federal government’s “good intentions” effect the classroom. It has been a slippery slope. NCLB was bad, but the real federal takeover started when the Obama administration decided it knew best and would force states across the country to adopt Common Core standards.
Fortunately, our senior U.S. Senator has a simple solution: get Washington out of the way. For years the Obama administration has been telling states that if they want a waiver from No Child Left Behind, or want competitive grant money for their schools, Common Core is the price. Lamar’s bill – which has the support of Rand Paul, Tim Scott and other trusted warriors in the fight against federal overreach – takes this authority away from the Obama administration, and any administration that comes afterward.
Under Lamar’s bill, the Obama administration could no longer require, or incentivize, any particular standards, leaving the decision completely up to Tennessee. It’s just one of many ways that the bill rips power out of the hands of Washington bureaucrats and gives it back to states, communities, teachers and families. Folks, it’s rare we get rights back after the government–Federal, State, or the City-County Building clowns–take them from us.
In short, if you’re mad about Common Core, you should be happy about Lamar’s bill.