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July 23, 2021

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DARREL SMITH: Is centralized educational content more effective?

2 min read

Would you rather be governed by people from your community or from a distant community? How about being governed from distant communities without them being limited by any constitutional authority? This broader problem is exemplified in how we are going to educate our children–children who are our country’s future. Historically, education in America was a local function. Over time, states developed educational departments. Now we are in a massive centralization with South Dakota and most other states following national Common Core standards. How did this happen?

Proponents of national educational standards contacted Microsoft’s Darrel Smithbillionaire Bill Gates for support. Once he agreed to support the transformation, his money–a lot of money– started flowing across the political spectrum to liberal and conservative, national and state organizations encouraging their support. Bill Gates and his rich friends also support organizations called the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers. A few years ago Bill Gates spoke to the conference encouraging national improvements in education. The organizations then approved the initiation of Common Core. I think these associations are fine and education improvement is needed, but I don’t think these associations have any constitutional authority or authority derived from the people to authorize massive changes that nationalize our educational content.

The federal government’s Department of Education also wanted to see national education standards developed and had $4.3 billion stimulus money available for states agreeing to Common Core. Many of the states accepted this money and adopted Common Core before it was even developed without a single public debate or vote.
Neither the states nor the federal government were involved in writing the standards. They were developed by a small group of people involved in things like educational testing, textbook personnel, academics and educational training. These developers are separate from either state or federal authority.

Once the standards are adopted, textbooks and training materials, teacher training, and tests are being brought into conformity with the standards. A part of the process includes intrusive student evaluations. Might the standards and student evaluations eventually be used in questionable ways? Common Core materials are being developed and haven’t been tested anywhere. American families and our future will be the test.

Our founders had good reasons for educating our youth in local communities and schools. These schools provided probably the world’s best-educated citizenry. Many now reason that educational content should be centrally developed outside of any normal government control with untested results. These people are saying–you run the schools, you maintain the schools, you pay for the schools, but we will tell you what to teach in the schools.

Do we even know if centralized educational content is more effective than decentralized content? This is a bigger question than just being about education. It’s also about how our constitutional republic functions. Did they make these changes with your informed consent?