Milton Friedman notes, “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.” Countless regulations and legislation could be avoided or repealed if we honestly adopted that quote as a philosophical part of policy making.
Let’s go back to 2010 for a bit; the Department of Education developed a new curriculum for the country we called Common Core. Its’ official name was the Common Core State Standards Initiative. 41 states quickly adopted those standards in under a year. Why so quickly? Because President Obama knew the states needed some incentive so he tied federal grants to the adoption of those standards by creating the Race to the Top Grants. Those 41 states promised they would implement Common Core Standards within the year. The Department of Education further tried to incentivize states by also tying the grant waivers from No Child Left Behind to the adoption of the standards.
Let’s repeat it again, 41 States within a year. And that is not including Texas and Virginia who re-wrote their standards so that they would also be eligible for Race to the Top. Were local school boards consulted before the states decided to change their standards and curriculum? Were teachers asked how they felt these standards would apply to their kids in the classroom? Were parents notified of the possible curriculum change? Did anyone discuss whether national standards or standardized testing was going to change the abysmal state that our education system was in?
All it took for those states to make wholesale changes in their education system was the promise of federal money. How many other state standards or curriculum have been similarly changed? Do we really want to trust the education of our children to state run education standards when they have shown their true colors? Why do we want to trust our children’s education to such massive bureaucratic, divisive machines like our State and Federal governments?
It is the right and the responsibility of the parents to be in charge of the education of their children. The state does not have the time nor capacity to get to know every child and parent across the entire state, and especially not all of America. But a parent and child can be known to a principle, a teacher, and a school board. A parent can be a school board member and influence who is hired at their school, what is taught, and how local children can truly not be left behind. Ironically, the more sweeping policy and legislated bans the big government applies to the education system, the less power and influence really belongs to our everyday educators who are in the trenches with our children.
What is implicitly implied when we advocate for Critical Race Theory (CRT) or any educational material to be banned at the state or federal level? We are agreeing with the premise that not only should states be involved in the education of our kids but that they must and need to be involved. This is a dangerous precedent to set with state legislatures and/or our federal government. Just because electeds may vote our way now, does not guarantee that they will vote our way in the future. Hasn’t history proven this concept time and time again? What happens when the pendulum swings in Tennessee and the state instead says that CRT must be taught? Or even worse, what happens when the current administration ties the teaching of CRT to federal grant dollars, because if they are progressive, won’t they? Instead, we could already be ahead of the game by influencing teachers and school boards and telling the state to stay out of local issues.
One size does not fit all. We have ample examples throughout history to confirm that exceptions become more and more common the bigger the government is. The issues and differences between Cherry Creek and Bennett could not be starker. Those Districts are in the same state and even share a border! Standardization limits freedom. It limits choices for parents, teachers, and children. It is time for us to start doing the hard work, looking at the local curriculum being taught, showing up to school board meetings, rewarding the actual educators and not the politicians, and personally advocating for the education our children are receiving. Big government will sway with the mob culture. That doesn’t mean our educators should have to also, and it surely doesn’t mean our children should either. It is our responsibility as parents to educate our children, not the President, not the culture and most certainly not bans that fly in the face of freedom.
Principal, not principle