There are few things more important than our children’s education. I know that from experience – as the father of five kids who attended Idaho public schools, and as the son of a single mom who pushed me to go as far as I could with my education.
We, as parents and educators, must never take our education system for granted. The stakes, in terms of our children’s future and the future of our democracy, are just too high. Now, more than ever, we must stop delegating our children’s future to “edu-crats” in Washington and start taking the initiative to give our children the world-class education they deserve.
In his landmark 1980 book, “Knowledge & Decisions,” the economist Thomas Sowell made a thorough study of government and business decision-making and he drew two important conclusions: First, the question of “who” makes a decision is just as important as “what” gets decided. Second, the best decisions are made by those who are closest to the situation and are most likely to be affected by it.
Sowell’s classic study not only validates conservative principles, it also has major implications for how we educate our children. Ever since the U.S. Education Department was founded in 1979, our schools and universities have come under tighter and tighter federal control, weakening the power of those who know best and should be in control – our parents, teachers, and local school boards.
The most notorious example of a federal “one-size-fits-all” approach to education is Common Core, which was implemented in Idaho in 2012. I’ve been a consistent opponent of Common Core because I knew it would weaken Idaho’s schools. Under Common Core, there is less innovation, teachers are teaching to the test, and there are fewer dollars going to the classroom.
This year, I’ve been advocating for several bills in Congress that would dismantle Common Core, abolish the U.S. Department of Education, and return money and control back to the states. These bills include:
- H.R. 899,which abolishes the U.S. Education Department with one line: “The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”
- The Ending Common Core and Expanding School Choice Act, which rolls back federal academic standards, assessments, and accountability systems.
- The A PLUS Act, which allows state and local education systems to opt out of federal education programs and focus on solutions that fix their community needs.
- The Higher Education Reform Opportunity (HERO) Act, which increases local control of higher education by allowing states to develop their own accreditation standards.
I am fighting hard to get these bills passed and signed into law so that Idaho’s students have a better chance to succeed.
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With a fresh approach – one that empowers parents and teachers at the lower level – we can make sure our kids get the world-class education they deserve.
Written by U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, a candidate in Idaho’s GOP race for governor.