Education is a subject that pertains to all sorts of aspects of our lives. Education is what drove all of us to Concordia, gives us the foundation for future careers, and has allowed us to focus the knowledge we possess. Recently, it has not been the education itself that affects us, but the policies that pertain to education. There have been multiple efforts to change education at the federal level. Proposals and acts such as No Child Left Behind and Common Core have been created with good intentions, but ultimately fall short of helping the greater good. It is for this reason that I believe it is neither the job nor the right of the federal government to regulate education.
The U.S. Constitution is very clear on the rights and powers of the federal government. The purpose of the Constitution was to give rules and regulations for state and federal governments to follow. The 10th Amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The right of education is not explicitly given to the federal government. Thus, following the logic of the Constitution, it is a right of the states. The problem with recent education is that the federal government has infringed on these rights. By creating mandates that school districts are required to follow or else risk losing funding, the federal government can control what schools teach. This violates the 10th Amendment and is proof that the federal government should not have control of items such as education that affects such a large group.
The second problem with federal control of education is that the solutions that the government comes up with tend to create more problems than they solve. Take No Child Left Behind as an example. The act was well-intended, as it meant to give incentives for schools to raise their test scores. The problem arises when you take money away from low income schools. Without that money, how are they logically supposed to raise test scores? That money is needed for bringing in resources to help raise test scores in the first place. The school with low test scores suffer from the lack of resources, and the vicious cycle continues.
This leads into my final point—the problem is with standardized tests and how they are ineffective. Having a universal level of education that all students in the United States are held to can be a handy tool to ensure equilibrium in education. However, to focus so much on standardized tests can cause problems. To explain, let me use the analogy of a bandage. While bandaids are great for patching up small wounds, they do little to heal a burn or close a large laceration. This is similar to education. Certainly, it is a good thing to have general standards for schools to follow to ensure some continuity between states. However, each state has its own problems in terms of education. The burdens that a teacher may go through in Georgia are different from those of a teacher in Minnesota. For this reason, standardized tests may work well to show the problems within states but do little to expose the problems on a grand level, because they compare the lowest to the highest test scores throughout the U.S.
Education remains one of the most dynamic subjects in our lives. What policies come into play will affect all of us, whether we realize it or not. More importantly, they will shape the generations to come. The fact remains that the federal government is not meant to deal with the intricacies of state policies. Rather, they ought to oversee the rights of the collective good. I am not saying it is bad to have some form of a standard to hold all states accountable, but when the rights of the states are being infringed upon, nobody wins.