“STRAIGHT A’s ACT” Should Be Flunked

The restructuring of our nation’s educational restructuring has been underway for the past forty years. It began in 1965 when Congress passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. This Act represents the bulk of the federal government’s spending and control of education, accounting for $14 billion in fiscal 1999. “By any definition the government’s intervention into the education of our nation’s children has been a dismal failure,” says Tom DeWeese, president of the American Policy Center.

Writing in the August issue of The DeWeese Report, published by the American Policy Center, DeWeese warns that “The pace of restructuring, however, has excellerated under the Clinton Administration through programs such as Goals 2000, School-To-Work, The CAREERS Act, block grant programs like Title I and Title IV, and many more. As the situation grows worse, politicians scrambled to provide solutions. They called for stricter standards, more assessments of students, and of course, more money and smaller classrooms. Congress has suggested about every solution except the one that will do away with the problem, the elimination of federal intervention in schools.”

“The latest folly to excite Republicans is a do-nothing program under the cute little title “Straight A’s Act (H.R.2300),” says DeWeese. “Of course the sound bites assure us all that the program is completely “voluntary” in the same way they represented the previous ‘Goals 2000.’ The program, they say, will give the States and parents the power to choose if they want to participate in federal programs. They promise higher test scores, school discipline, and a brighter future for our children. The same thing politicians promised with Goals 2000.”

“Straight A’s” promises to cut red tape and bureaucracies. However, in order to keep the federal funds flowing, all accountability, i.e., control, resides with the federal government. The strings are still there. The programs are still in place. Under the Act, States must have in place standards and aligned assessments, just like Goals 2000. Students must meet certain federal standards, just like Goals 2000. Throughout the Act, words like “states must assure…must implement…must have in place…” are used to dictate federal guidelines in order for states to qualify for the federal dollars.

“Where is the change in policy? Where is the newfound freedom for the states? Where is the answer to improving education? It’s a mirage. It’s the same old smoke and mirrors. It’s the same enslavement of State and local educational programs that want to qualify for the money involved. Across the nation, federal guidelines have become state law. There are now State level Goals 2000 and School-To-Work programs in place. These programs are run by an entrenched state bureaucracy that answers to the federal Department of Education. They control the flow and use of the money. They implement the programs.”

“Nothing will change under “Straight A’s” Act. It is a flimflam,” says DeWeese. “It is an attempt by the Republicans to pretend they are doing something about education while they leave a failed system intact. “

A recent survey of its members by the Republican National Committee asks what federal departments should be eliminated. Energy, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, are named, but the one most in need of being abolished, the Department of Education is not included. “The only way Americans are going to reclaim their schools will be to abolish the Department of Education, leaving education dollars in the states instead of laundering them through Washington D.C.,” says DeWeese.

The federal government must get out of education, says DeWeese. Only then, will the problems plaguing our schools begin to solve themselves. The failure of America’s children to learn the Three R’s is in free fall, worsening with every passing year. Any other “solution” is a worthless Band-Aid that plays into the well-financed hands of the education bureaucracy that created the crisis in the first place.

Tom DeWeese
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Tom DeWeese is one of the nation’s leading advocates of individual liberty, free enterprise, private property rights, personal privacy, back-to-basics education and American sovereignty and independence.