The first step in moving America’s schools forward is to repeal the No Child Left Behind program. That program has been an enormous unfunded mandate on our teachers and schools. However, a lack of funding is not the problem with our education system. The money is being spent in the wrong way.
Consider this chart on education spending:
The failure of No Child Left Behind exposes a larger problem with education: too much control from Washington. Why we think that a Congressman from South Carolina (me, for example) should have a say in how kids are education in Portland, Oregon, is beyond me. Likewise, quite honestly I think we can manage our education just fine at home without the need for input from a Congressman from Portland, Oregon.
Like many conservatives, I’ve never understood why we need a federal Department of Education (that now employs over 5,000 people — none of whom teach kids). And clearly, real-world results will show us that the quality of education has been declining the more the federal government gets involved. We should remember that teachers and parents, not government bureaucrats, know best how to educate our children.
If the federal Department of Education must continue to exist, it should focus more on funneling money more efficiently to the states. To a certain extent, it could also be involved in setting certain national standards, encouraging school choice where states and local school boards want it, and supporting national teacher certification so that teachers are free to move from state to state without overly burdensome re-certification.
Spending on education represents more than half of our state budget. It represents a very small portion of the federal budget. As a result states are forced to put education at the top of their priority list, whereas the federal government has hundreds, if not thousands of issues that demands its attention. The federal government should give state and local governments much, much more control over education.