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Sunday, December 16th, 2018Last Update: Tuesday, October 30th, 2018 07:58:08 PM

The Growing Federal Education Bureaucracy

By: Linda Murphy

Federal government bureaucrats now have new ways to be involved in every aspect of the life of a child in public schools with the passage of the "reauthorized" federal education bill. Preschool education, psychological testing and training of every aspect of a child's life are now open to more federal involvement in the name of improving our nation's so-called "human resources." There will be more to come on these federal programs in future articles.

We all know the "top down" control of education through Common Core and excessive testing created a backlash of opposition across the nation. In no other place has that been felt more than in Oklahoma, where our repeal of Common Core State Standards shook the Governor, State Superintendent, State Chamber of Commerce and education organizations who support them.

The cry to stop taking the local control of education from the hands of teachers, parents and locally elected school boards has been loud and clear. It even emerged as a major issue in the Presidential election this year as we see each week in campaign events.

The public-private agenda of numerous global corporations, education vendors (already making millions), many governors, state education officials and the federal government has been rejected by the people. Everyone who has read the U.S. Constitution knows there is no legal authority for the federal government to control education in the first place. In spite of all of this, we yet once again have been over-ridden by the federal education bureaucracy through its passage of the federal bill, which expands federal control into new and even more treacherous areas of involvement. The attitudes, values and beliefs of children are none of the government's business, but President Obama's plan for testing and training in this area has been given a green light.

The bill passed by the U.S. House and Senate led by a Republican majority is the "reauthorization" of the "Great Society" federal education package known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). ESEA has been in federal law since 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson passed his huge experiment and it was greatly expanded under President George W. Bush in 2001 with the addition of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The stated goal of federal education policy is to equalize student results. This is a failed ideology that also drives socialism and "social justice" efforts which are harmful in the end.

This reauthorization of ESEA/NCLB was passed quickly as a "slam-dunk" by President Obama and the Republican leadership of Senator Mitch McConnell and Congressman Paul Ryan. It had a well greased path prepared over months by the "bipartisan" work of Republican Senator Lamar Alexander (former Sec of Education under the first President Bush, George H. W.) and Democrat Senator Patty Murray. Instead of waiting for a new and hopefully Republican president in 2017 who could turn away from federal control of education, McConnell and Ryan pushed the final bill (1,000+ pages) through in just two days in the House. No Congressman could have had time to read it. Among the Oklahoma delegation, only Congressman Jim Bridenstine voted against it.

The authors, Alexander and Murray got "buy-in" from education lobby organizations including the National Education Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce by giving them some changes they wanted in the bill. Then Alexander, Murray and the education lobby groups persuaded House and Senate members that "Common Core" and other problems were fixed in the new version. They all sent out press releases, appeared in programs and unfolded other public relations efforts promoting the bill. The hundreds of thousands of pleas from American citizens to stop and read the bill were dismissed by the House and Senate as the bill sailed on through to the desk of President Obama who was eager to sign it. Now it is touted as a great bipartisan success and a proud example of how Congress and the President can work together.

It is going to take a strong and determined change of direction by a new President to start dismantling the multi-headed bureaucracy of the federal Department of Education. That looks promising in the presidential election in November. Let us work toward that end!

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