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Stop Common Core and Eliminate the Department of Education

Common Core will damage America’s public education system even further than the Department of Education already has. Both Common Core and the Department of Education should be eliminated and their powers dissolved to the local and parental level where the Founding Fathers intended them to be.

Like all overreaching federal government programs, Common Core is an anathema to me. Even worse, it is an affront to the United States Constitution and it will continue to ensure that America’s public education system continues its downward trend.

Common Core is a set of K-12 educational standards, developed by big business and special interests in Washington D.C. and supported by private liberal foundations. It is another attempt to centralize decision making about our children’s education and development on a national level.

The purpose of the U.S. Constitution is to limit the power of the federal government and specifically the 10th Amendment states, “powers not delegated to the U.S. by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States.” Education, of course, is not an enumerated power thus it belongs to the states to provide education. This is my Constitutional reasoning for being against national, federally directed education standards. It is also part of the reason I support eliminating the national Department of Education altogether.

The Department of Education was made a standalone agency in 1979 with an initial budget of $12 billon and 3,000 employees. Today the Department of Education budget is nearly $70 billon. And in the 35 years of its existence the Department of Education has socialized every aspect of our nations education system, all in the name of improving scores, access and fairness. Yet, our national education system today limits access to good schools and especially limits the ability of minorities to achieve a good education. Academically, as the Cato Institute’s Handbook for Congress points out, “the Department of Education and its nearly 5,000 employees have had virtually no positive effect on the performance of schools or the academic gains of school children.”

The liberals who run the federal government will argue that they have only the best intentions in seeking to improve American public education through central control. But I say, the road to heck is paved with good intentions.

With our daughter in public high school in Savannah and a son a West Point, I am not against public schools. And it angers me to see the schools we fund with our taxes continue to fail. Common Core will only ensure more failure because it further shifts the responsibility of children’s education away from the parents and teachers and puts all the decision making on “what’s best” for the children at the whim of a faceless, heartless and liberal federal government.

Subsidiarity works perfectly well with public education. For example, first education is a parental issue, then community, then local government and ends with the state as the final and least influential level. State and local governments build the schools and parents and the community fill the schools with the children, teachers, and local curriculum driven by local values.

The true responsibility for our children’s education lies most immediately at home with the family. Secondarily education should be guided by the family’s church, where the family’s values are reinforced. Only after these two institutions have provided the foundation of a child’s education should the local, emphasis on local, government provide public education with a curriculum that is designed at the local level to reflect the needs and values of the local community.

But instead of relying on family first and government last, we have turned our unique and once great American way of life on its head. Common Core forces us to rely on the largest government entity to provide for our children first and at the same time, we’re completely eliminating any ability for the local government to make decisions on how to best educate the children of their communities. This will result in teachers who have no buy-in with the system, consequently seeing their job, not as a creative, inspirational venture, but as a regimen of checklists.

What is truly disgusting is that Common Core, like Medicaid expansion is being pushed on states that are promised billions of tax dollars if the state legislature and/or governors accept the stings attached. We are being blackmailed into giving up our rights in exchange for our own money, and we don’t even get to decide how to spend it!

The tax dollars spent on the failed Department of Education would be far better kept in the pockets of American families and their children would be far better served by an education system that is parent, church and teacher driven at the local level, not directed and regulated by Washington D.C.

Dr. Bob Johnson is Savannah surgeon, retired Army Ranger and Christian missionary, he is the conservative candidate for the GOP nomination in Georgia’s First Congressional District.

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