| February 21, 2011

For local control, fiscal prudence in education

As of today, “seven states—Alaska, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Texas, and Virginia—have yet to sign on to the adoption of national academic standards and tests,” Heritage Foundation analyst Lindsey Burke points out in a new memorandum (‘National Education Standards and Tests: Big Expense, Little Value’). “They would be wise, both for fiscal reasons and in the interest of maintaining state authority over education, to continue to stand strong in their opposition.”

Moreover, Burke adds, “incoming governors and state leaders could also bring with them opposition to the national standards agenda. State school chiefs across the country, favoring a return to local control and federalism in education, will likely also resist the effort to further centralize education policy. Their resistance will be well-founded. If the Obama Administration is successful in its push for national education standards and tests, the federal government will have further overstepped its bounds by intervening in local school curriculum matters.”

If not national standards, then what? “The route to successful education goes in the opposite direction of national standards; it goes toward universal school choice,” says Cato Institute analyst Neal McCluskey. “Only a free market can produce the mix of high standards, accountability, and flexibility that is essential to achieving optimal educational outcomes.”

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