Newsletter Oct 06, 2010
Get Washington Out of Our Schools
Thomas Jefferson, our third President and the man who drafted the Declaration of Independence long promoted the importance of a quality classical education in preserving our liberty.
"Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government;... whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights." --Thomas Jefferson to Richard Price, 1789. ME 7:253
Today, this principle is more important than ever.
However, this does not justify any involvement by the federal government. In fact, federal intrusion is actually harming educational achievement and making our schools less accountable.
In the decades since Washington decided it wanted to play a major role in our classrooms, nearly every important measure of success has remained flat, or more often, gotten worse. That is no coincidence.
The federal education bureaucracy is enormous, and it loves nothing more than to issue expensive new mandates—mandates that keep our teachers and principals busy with paperwork and away from students.
Moreover, it is clear that we have a greater chance of holding a teacher or principal accountable that lives in our neighborhood than a bureaucrat(s) sitting in an office 1,200 miles away. Yet, today many of the key decisions in our classrooms are now made in Washington, D.C. From my own investigations of the Federal education department, I can tell you firsthand that it is neither accountable nor easy to navigate.
While Rome burns…
The very politicians who engineered the federal takeover of our schools, and who built the bureaucracy in Washington, have again proven why they have no business in our schools.
Last week, I issued an investigative report entitled: “Education Pork: How Education Earmarks School Taxpayers.”
In it, I detail how members of Congress have set up their own “education” slush funds, spending billions of your tax dollars on pet projects like mariachi classes in Nevada, the development of curriculum for wine studies, and honorary programs to be named after the earmarking politicians themselves.
The sad irony is that Washington is borrowing from the next generation to pay for mediocre and counterproductive federal programs that will weaken their educational achievement.
The Founders knew what they were doing…
Our Constitution does not grant the Federal government a role in education. Each of the Founders knew the central importance of education in our Republic, and each also recognized it was best achieved and most accountable when the major decisions were made in our homes, in our communities, and in our states.
If we want to restore American educational achievement to its once lofty status, we must begin by getting bureaucrats and career politicians in Washington out of the education business and returning control to teachers and parents.
Tom A. Coburn, MD
P.S. I hope you will join me next Monday evening in Oklahoma City for a rally to be put on by Oklahoma Victory, an organization dedicated to getting conservative voters to the polls. The “Countdown to Victory” will take place at the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, 4040 N Lincoln Blvd, from 6:30pm to 7:30pm. Hamburgers will be served.
The Federal government has spent more than $2 trillion on education since 1965, while graduation rates have fallen and student performance has either remained stagnant or declined.