"The President's education plan, with or without vouchers, suffers from an essential defect," observes Alan Caruba in a recent issue of Warning Signs, his weekly internet commentary. "While education is a national priority," Caruba concedes, "it is more properly a priority of the parents of students, their teachers, and local school boards. The flaw in President Bush's education plans," he contends, "is the U.S. Department of Education, an agency that since the 1970s has racked up a dismal record when it comes to educating the nation's youth."
Caruba worries that the Bush education plan "will expand the powers of the Department of Education. Forget the rhetoric of block grants and other forms of slippery bookkeeping jargon," he advises. "Individual states are, in reality, the conduit for the programs designed by the federal Department of Education. Federal programs are intended to subvert the teaching of the fundamentals of reading, writing, and arithmetic, along with history, civics, and science," Caruba charges. "The problem," he emphasizes, "is the topdown federal programs . . . that have severely undermined the ability of local schools to achieve their intended goal."
Caruba rejects the federal role in education as unconstitutional and presumptuous. "It is not the government's job, through Outcome-Based Education, to shape the opinions, personalities, and values of students," he declares. "It is not the government's job to set up health facilities in schools and insist that millions of students be required to take mind-altering drugs like Ritalin. It is not the government's job to send so-called social workers into the homes of parents, threatening to take their children from them. It is not the government's job to create School-to-Work programs as if students are mere economic units. . . ."
Caruba charges that the Department of Education and the teachers unions "have ruined our nation's schools. Everyone knows it," he asserts. "Parents under the current system are powerless. In the schools, the principals and teachers are powerless to deal with disruptive students, to separate the slow learners from those who can progress at a faster rate, to avoid having disabled students mixed in so as to diminish the teacher's attention to the rest of the class."
Caruba calls for an end to the federal government's unconstitutional meddling in education. "The power to educate children should and must be returned to where it was before the tentacles of the federal government and the teachers unions turned our schools into shooting galleries and indoctrination centers where environmentalism, global government, and sexual behavior are in the curriculum as the prime objective of a student's education."
Caruba is skeptical about the recent trend toward more rigorous testing of students. "If the curriculum is not designed to teach students basic academics," he argues, "then testing them becomes a meaningless exercise. Programs that make a mockery of learning arithmetic and mathematics, of writing and reading with comprehension, mean that you can test every day and still end up with students who have not learned anything," Caruba explains. "This is the real problem," he declares, "and this is the reality facing America today. The current system is producing academic dunces."