Senator Mike Lee: Education Policy Statement   Leave a comment

Have you seen Senator Mike Lee’s statement on education policy?

Education Policy

Senator Mike Lee

The first principle of education, and therefore of education policymaking, is that parents are the primary educators of their children.

And because responsibility for children’s education lies primarily with parents, to the greatest extent possible so should decision-making authority over Pre-K to secondary education.

The further pre-K to secondary policymaking authority is removed from the parents and guardians of children, the further it is removed from those who will promote the best interests of students.

Therefore federal pre-K, elementary, and secondary education policy should be limited. Neither members of Congress nor Department of Education bureaucrats can be expected to promote the interests of individual students – with unique talents, interests, and learning styles – more than those students’ parents, their teachers or principals.

And indeed, history has borne out this basic human insight. Pre-K Federal pre-K policy primarily amounts to the Head Start program, which for forty years has utterly failed to improve the lives of the poor children and families it ostensibly serves.

It is a demonstrable fact that the federal Head Start program does not help, and in most cases hurts the children and families enrolled in it. The $8.1 billion the federal government today wastes on this failed program, on the other hand, might conceivably do some good for poor children and families – if federal bureaucrats surrender control over it to states, school boards, and, ideally, parents themselves.

Senator Lee has therefore introduced the Head Start Improvement Act (S. pending) to eliminate the federal Head Start bureaucracy and block grant its full $8.1 billion budget to the states, to spend on pre-K education for the underprivileged as they see fit, including as vouchers to defray the costs of private pre-school tuition.

Primary & Secondary

Federal K-12 policy today consists of the No Child Left Behind Act, which has bound states and schools in so much red tape that even some of NCLB’s “successes” have been revealed as little more than administrative book-cooking.

Tying educators and administrators in federal red tape does nothing to educate children, or protect parents’ rightful authority over the education of their children.

Therefore Sen. Lee is an original co-sponsor of the “A-Plus” Act, which creates an alternative, locally-controlled accountability and regulatory system for federal K-12 funds. Borrowing the logic of charter schools – under which new public schools are freed from bureaucratic supervision in exchange for meeting performance goals – APlus would in effect allow for the creation of “Charter States.”

States would be free to continue under the current NCLB system, or they could instead adopt rigorous performance standards in exchange for being released from NCLB red tape. If over time the standards are not met, the state will revert back to the NCLB system.

Federal K-12 funding – which should generally be limited – should finance innovation, opportunity, and success in the classroom – not Washington bureaucracy.

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