Column by Florida Libertarian US Senate candidate Alex Snitker emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org:
The United States Constitution gives the federal government the authority to do quite a few things. Meddling in our children’s education isn’t one of them. But that hasn’t stopped them from spending another $4.35 billion in stimulus money under the guise of reforming K-12 public education.
Race to the Top (RttT) is a federal program designed to inject money into states’ education coffers while placing a centrally-controlled, one-size-fits-all education standard on the nation. It would be more aptly named The Race to Cede Control of our Children’s Education to Unelected Bureaucrats in Washington.
Will this be another stimulus boondoggle? Perhaps. Historically speaking, we can surmise why this spending program will fail to meet its objectives. For example, we can look at No Child Left Behind (NCLB) to find warm-and-fuzzy euphemisms for programs that have failed. Or we can review the budget of the Department of Education (ED), which consistently funnels less that 10% of its funding into classrooms.
Central control of education has never been effective.
Last Spring, teachers and parents across Florida began to see that the traditional left-right paradigm is no longer working. Republican legislators, normally against top-down management, lined up in support of the controversial education bill SB6. One of my opponents, Marco Rubio, stood in line with Jeb Bush as the Republican legislature shoved SB6 through, despite the cries from parents and teachers across the State. Why? Because they wanted to compete for federal RttT dollars which would require local schools to take direction from Washington.
Many teachers I’ve spoken with have been disappointed by President Obama’s pick for Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, who has expanded many of the programs that started with George Bush and NCLB, and continued to amass control of education in Washington at the expense of local communities.
It made national news when my opponent, Charlie Crist, broke from the Republicans and vetoed the bill based on a political calculation to garner support from the teachers unions. Crist has once again flip-flopped when he learned that Florida is a finalist in the Race to the Top (RttT) education grants.
“This would be a tremendous infusion of resources into our schools at a time when budgets are tight,” Gov. Charlie Crist said Tuesday. “It would benefit Florida’s students and teachers in a substantial way.”
Kendrick Meek is on board, too, willing to take the federal bribe.
Make no mistake; SB6, merit-pay, NCLB, and RttT, are all about taking control away from parents and academic freedom from teachers. I am the only candidate for U.S. Senate to publicly state that, if elected, I will vote against any further legislation that will take the power away from families’ right to choose the education that best suits them. I am solidly against both RttT and NCLB.
Ideally, I believe we can get government out of the education business altogether, and provide a better quality education at a lower cost per student. In the interim, local control and influence is the best way for a public school to function. It ensures that the people of that community are able to hold their local officials accountable for decisions regarding their children’s education.
The federal government offering vast sums of tax dollars to states is simply a carrot and stick method to nationalize our local schools. Unfortunately, many governors and local school boards have taken the bait, and are willing to cede authority to solve temporary budget shortfalls.
If Washington really cared about the education of our children, they would disband the ED and all its programs immediately. This begs the question: Do politicians and officials really care about our kids?
No, and why would they? They care about getting reelected, and reappointed, and are willing to use your own tax money to buy your vote from you. Are you willing to sell it at the cost of educational quality?
I hope not, and I also hope that my rivals for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat will stop asking you to do so.