A Horrible Education Department Story for School Choice Week

Today is the last day of School Choice Week. One important aspect of school choice is the freedom of parents to make decisions for their unique children without bureaucratic interference. But another element is the freedom of states to make their own decisions without interference from the federal government.

We don’t have school choice at that level either. Thus, the Huffington Post headline this week: “Education Department Tells States: If Students Don’t Take Tests, You Will Lose Funding.”

While some state legislatures and local school districts might be prone to respond to parents’ concerns that the number and frequency of tests is overkill, unelected federal bureaucrats are threatening them.

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The U.S. Education Department is not relenting on requirements to test students on math and language arts abilities, despite the end of No Child Left Behind, and it reminded some states that federal funding could be at stake if too many children skip the annual assessments.

Actually, when you get into the details of the story, it is worse than merely threatening states and schools. The Education Department is threatening them to get them to threaten parents to get them to submit to the system. In addition to the parents who have wisely taken their children out of the public school system altogether, there are a growing number of parents who are opting out of the onerous testing system. That won’t do. The Education Department requires the states to, uh, do something about these parents and their poor deprived children.

I’m curious as to what measures the federal bureaucrats would find too extreme. Since they are threatening states and schools to get them to take action, it seems rather open-ended. Should the police be used? State troopers? Child Protective Services?

Of course, all the Education Department’s money, which it distributes to the states, comes from the residents of those states. The funding either comes from taxes or it comes from the federal government borrowing money, using taxpayers as collateral for the loans. The Education Department doesn’t have any resources to add to the states. When you consider the costs of those federal workers with their generous pensions, obviously states are losing money in the process.

The Education Department does not exist to help states, local public schools, or parents. It exists to control them.

Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder is the "nom de plume" (or "nom de guerre") of a fifty-ish-year-old writer and stroke survivor. He lives in St Louis with his wife and still-at-home children. He has been a freelance writer and occasional political activist since the early nineties. He describes his politics as Tolkienesque.

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