Concerned about What Your Kids Are Learning? Turn to Your Local Schools and Teachers


America’s public schools have become a hotbed for leftist indoctrination and education advocates are turning to Donald Trump to fix it, Susan Berry claims in Breitbart News:

“Education is a primary reason the United States has lurched so far leftward in its acceptance of illegal immigrants and denigration of capitalism,” Berry writes. “Current-day students are being exposed to curricula that are even further left-leaning, to the point of sending the message that America itself is to blame for the terrorist attacks on 9/11.”

Objective analyses dismiss claims that the new, higher standards are a way of indoctrinating students with political or religious ideology, as Berry alleges. Three years ago, PolitiFact gave assertions like Berry’s a “Pants on Fire” rating. High, comparable standards are meant to “better prepare students for college and careers… That’s a far cry from attempting to instill particular religious or political beliefs,” PolitiFact notes.

Education is most effective when it is managed by those closest to it: local school boards, educators, and state officials. What Berry ignores is that Congress has already made sure those authorities have control. Last December, the Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into law, clarifying that states – and states alone – have the authority to choose their own academic standards.

Congressman John Kline, chairman of the House education committee, calls the law a “huge win for conservatives.” He explains, “The federal government should not be able to tell states what standards they can or cannot adopt.” In other words, the federal government should get out of state’s education decisions. And ESSA achieves that.

Washington Post’s Lyndsey Layton reiterates that ESSA firmly establishes that state and local leaders are now in control: “States, not the federal government, decide curricula, teaching methods, academic standards, what to do about struggling schools and how to define success or failure, among other things [under the Every Student Succeeds Act].”

Former Alabama Governor Bob Riley wrote previously that he once ran into confusion about who was responsible for the materials his grandson brought home. His advice to parents, based on his own experience: Raise your concerns with your local educators and school board.

“Local control, local decisions are almost always the best. It turns out that is exactly what is happening in our schools,” Gov. Riley writes. “If an Alabama parent or group of parents has an issue with a specific book in their local school, they do not have to lobby Washington for change. They don’t even have to call Montgomery. All they have to do is tell their concerns to the local school administration.”

Across the country, most states have raised their academic expectations, and most continue to build on that baseline even further. That is a huge success for parents and teachers – one that policymakers should continue to embrace. Unfortunately Donald Trump has largely talked in generalities that ignore the progress states are achieving.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly pledged to “end Common Core.” But the Common Core has already achieved its purpose: States have raised their standards, they continue to build on that baseline, and most have begun to use high-quality assessments to hold schools accountable to those goals. The Every Student Succeeds Act should put to rest any concern about federal overreach. States are moving forward with high standards and high-quality assessments; it’s time politicians and education commentators do the same.