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Feds in the Classroom: How Big Government Corrupts, Cripples, and Compromises American Education

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Thomas Jefferson warned that 'the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.' American elementary and secondary education shows how right he was. Two centuries ago the founders rejected federal participation in education and even rejected George Washington's plans on establishing a national university. It should be of little surprise, Thomas Jefferson warned that 'the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.' American elementary and secondary education shows how right he was. Two centuries ago the founders rejected federal participation in education and even rejected George Washington's plans on establishing a national university. It should be of little surprise, then, that the term 'education' appears nowhere in the Constitution. Few early Americans would have considered providing education a proper function of local or state governments, much less some distant federal government. Federal control of the nation's schools would have simply been unthinkable. This view was the prevailing one well into the 20th century. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan campaigned, in part, on a proposal to close the federal department of education. How things have changed in a few short decades. Today, every state requires children to attend school, and most dictate precisely what the children will learn. Parents, in contrast, are able to make very few choices about their children's education. And what role does the federal government have now? It has drilled deep into almost every public classroom in America. Washington can now tell public schools whether their teachers are qualified, their reading instruction acceptable, and what they must do when their students do not achieve on par with federal demands. At the outset of his presidential administration, for example, George W. Bush pushed for the largest federal encroachment in education in American history. Through his No Child Left Behind Act, the federal government can dictate what will be taught, when, and by whom, to most of the 15,000 public school districts and 47 million public school children. Why the change? Is it a change? What's the cost to the taxpayers? What are the benefits to public school students? To public schools? Today, with the almost-complete consolidation of education authority in the hands of policy makers in Washington, the last of our educational liberty has been pushed to the brink of extinction. Thankfully, there is still hope: Over just the last decade-and-a-half, school choice - public education driven by parents, not politicians and bureaucrats - has become a force to be reckoned with. Feds in the Classroom will challenge much of the conventional wisdom surrounding federal involvement in education. The author considers all federal activities-legislation, funding, regulations, and judicial oversight-and then makes a cost-benefit and constitutional assessment.


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Thomas Jefferson warned that 'the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.' American elementary and secondary education shows how right he was. Two centuries ago the founders rejected federal participation in education and even rejected George Washington's plans on establishing a national university. It should be of little surprise, Thomas Jefferson warned that 'the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.' American elementary and secondary education shows how right he was. Two centuries ago the founders rejected federal participation in education and even rejected George Washington's plans on establishing a national university. It should be of little surprise, then, that the term 'education' appears nowhere in the Constitution. Few early Americans would have considered providing education a proper function of local or state governments, much less some distant federal government. Federal control of the nation's schools would have simply been unthinkable. This view was the prevailing one well into the 20th century. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan campaigned, in part, on a proposal to close the federal department of education. How things have changed in a few short decades. Today, every state requires children to attend school, and most dictate precisely what the children will learn. Parents, in contrast, are able to make very few choices about their children's education. And what role does the federal government have now? It has drilled deep into almost every public classroom in America. Washington can now tell public schools whether their teachers are qualified, their reading instruction acceptable, and what they must do when their students do not achieve on par with federal demands. At the outset of his presidential administration, for example, George W. Bush pushed for the largest federal encroachment in education in American history. Through his No Child Left Behind Act, the federal government can dictate what will be taught, when, and by whom, to most of the 15,000 public school districts and 47 million public school children. Why the change? Is it a change? What's the cost to the taxpayers? What are the benefits to public school students? To public schools? Today, with the almost-complete consolidation of education authority in the hands of policy makers in Washington, the last of our educational liberty has been pushed to the brink of extinction. Thankfully, there is still hope: Over just the last decade-and-a-half, school choice - public education driven by parents, not politicians and bureaucrats - has become a force to be reckoned with. Feds in the Classroom will challenge much of the conventional wisdom surrounding federal involvement in education. The author considers all federal activities-legislation, funding, regulations, and judicial oversight-and then makes a cost-benefit and constitutional assessment.

33 review for Feds in the Classroom: How Big Government Corrupts, Cripples, and Compromises American Education

  1. 5 out of 5

    David Wilusz

    A critical look at the federal government's current role in the US public education system (which is not actually authorized by the US Constitution), and an interesting history of how things got to be this way. This is certainly a different version of education history than you're likely to get from the teacher's union. The author is a strongly opposed to the government's current monopoly over public education (which is starting to weaken thanks to charter schools, voucher programs, etc.), and p A critical look at the federal government's current role in the US public education system (which is not actually authorized by the US Constitution), and an interesting history of how things got to be this way. This is certainly a different version of education history than you're likely to get from the teacher's union. The author is a strongly opposed to the government's current monopoly over public education (which is starting to weaken thanks to charter schools, voucher programs, etc.), and proposes a variety of ways to bring about positive change. As always, an entrenched group of interests benefits from the status quo, and will oppose any change. I found myself agreeing with the author more often than not. I also developed a new appreciation for the power of the Supreme Court - a single decision by them can set US policy decisions on a certain course for decades to come.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sean Rosenthal

    Interesting Quote: "On the whirlwind three-day tour in which he signed [No Child Left Behind], Bush paid homage to the legislation sharing the stage with him-almost a foot tall and shrouded in blue velvet-and explained, 'I haven't read it yet. You'll be happy to hear I don't intend to.' And so began the greatest escalation of federal control over education since President Johnson signed the ESEA almost four decades earlier." -Neal McCluskey, Feds in the Classroom

  3. 5 out of 5

    Richard

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  33. 4 out of 5

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