by Vickie Deppe – March 2022
When programs are run by the federal government instead of state and local authorities, they are less responsive, less transparent, and less efficient. The people who depend on them—oftentimes some of our most vulnerable neighbors—are also more likely to be taken as political hostages to some unrelated proposal that stands little chance of passing on its own merits.
Consider education: in spite of the fact that the United States spends, on average, over 30% more than other Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development member nations, our students’ scores routinely hover around average on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test.
The performance of American teenagers in reading and math has been stagnant since 2000, according to the latest results of a rigorous international exam, despite a decades-long effort to raise standards and help students compete with peers across the globe. And the achievement gap in reading between high and low performers is widening.
There will be discussions of what the PISA scores do or do not prove. Some of that is fair; Common Core and other ed reforms pushed by billionaires and thinky [sic] tanks and politicians and a variety of other non-educators were going to turn this all around. They haven’t. This comes as zero surprise to actual educators. It’s just one more data point showing that all the reform heaped on education since A Nation At Risk is not producing the promised results.
But worse than the fact that American students are merely average when compared with their peers around the world is the fact that in spite of all the time, money, and federal involvement in American education, the achievement gap for students of color has barely changed since the Coleman Report on educational opportunity was issued in 1966. Dr. Eric Hanushek, Paul & Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at Stanford University and former member of the Equity and Excellence Commission of the U.S. Department of Education, says our failure to close the gap “can only be called a national embarrassment.” If current trends continue, he estimates that it will take over a century-and-a-half to close achievement gaps in math and reading.
American children—minorities in particular—have benefitted very little from the over half-trillion dollars in federal spending since education was made a cabinet-level position in the 1970s. It’s time for the states to employ Article V to take back their money and authority. Washington isn’t going to admit that the Department of Education is an abysmal failure; they will not remedy the problem on their own.