A Study In Failure-How Federal Regulation of Education Undermines Innovation

In an article published in this morning’s Wall Street Journal, Diane Ravitch, former assistant secretary of education to George H.W. Bush, complains of the failings of 2002’s No Child Left Behind Act which sought to provide national equality of education through mandated testing.  Unfortunately, “Because the law demanded progress only in reading and math, schools were incentivized to show gains only on those subjects. Hundreds of millions of dollars were invested in test-preparation materials. Meanwhile, there was no incentive to teach the arts, science, history, literature, geography, civics, foreign languages or physical education.”  Oddly enough, despite the heavy emphasis on testing, “students improved not at all on the federal test of reading even though they had been tested annually by their states in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007.”  Ravitch’s study demonstrates how little the modern world knows about education, and, accordingly, illustrates why centralization actually undermines innovation.  Rather than force schools to comply with strict national standards and regulations, the federal government would do best to get out of the way and allow each individual state governments to run their own show.  With fifty states experimenting with different ways to improve education, innovation will come.

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