Government intervention gets failing grade



In recent months there has been much said about school funding and Ohio’s method of funding schools. Nearly always, the solution suggested is how to get and spend more money on the schools.

In 1983, a presidential commission on education issued an alarming report, “A Nation at Risk.” America’s educational decline was revealed in a litany of failures. The report found that “some 23 million American adults are functionally illiterate” and that “about 13 percent of all 17-year-olds in the United States can be considered functionally illiterate.”

The unsettling report also noted SAT tests “demonstrate a virtually unbroken decline from 1963 to 1980.”

The most expensive educational system in the world stood exposed as a colossal failure. All concerned admitted that throwing more money at the crisis, enacting more legislation, centralizing control, and engaging in more rounds of phony “reform” would not provide genuine solutions to the looming catastrophe. But in the years that followed “A Nation at Risk,” that is precisely what happened.

The Bush II administration now threatens to plunge us deeper into the abyss, with new orgies of spending, legislating, centralizing, and reforming. The new Bush education plan, “No Child Left Behind,” is a blueprint for expanding this already gargantuan debacle.

Aside from the fact that the Constitution provides no authority whatsoever for any federal government involvement in education (and, by way of the 10th Amendment, expressly prohibits the same), there is the inescapable reality that federal intervention in all things educational has been a disaster.

No amount of wishful thinking will render the Bush education schemes any less calamitous.

Americans were better off before the intrusion of Washington into education. In 1765, John Adams remarked: A native of America who cannot read or write is as rare an appearance … as a comet or an earthquake.

Education historian Samuel Bluemfeld notes that only one-fourth of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation and Constitution attended college, and that George Washington was educated by his father. Some of the founders were born into wealth but many were not. Many of the founders came from humble, and some even from destitute, origins, but they were educated.

We can duplicate the education of our founders by returning to some important principles. In the founding years, education was decided by families, not the state. The education of children was the duty of the father and mother. In rare cases where parents were unable to educate their children, neighbors saw to it that most children were educated.

We will not correct the problems in education until we encourage parents to be responsible for that important facet in the child’s life. There is no better proof of this than the private school and home school movement of recent years. These students have an education and it didn’t cost nearly as much as the public school.

But parents who educate their own children should not be forced to also pay for the failure of the public system. The public system should be forced to correct the problems in the system by the tried-and-true free enterprise system.

Orville Starkey

Fresno, Ohio

Get our Top Stories in Your Inbox

Next step: Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.