Let Local Districts Make Education Decisions

Published November 18, 2010

It’s tough to quarrel with Talmadge W. Fair’s defense of the federal No Child Left Behind law’s tutoring mandate (Preserve tutoring program, Nov. 6, Other Views). He rightly notes that the program is one of the few federal programs to go directly to parents to help assist their children.

But Fair misses the point that tutoring programs needn’t necessarily disappear in the absence of a federal requirement.

No Child Left Behind represented an unprecedented (and unconscionable) expansion of federal power into state and local decision-making. Fact is, NCLB requires money to come out of school district budgets, so it essentially repurposes existing funds. Instead of vacuuming up state tax dollars and redistributing them with strings attached, the federal government could let states keep those dollars and use them as they see fit.

Fair also points out how Florida has led the way in education reform, quite apart from any requirements the federal government has imposed. Florida’s curriculum, testing and school-choice programs are a model for other states. Perhaps Florida could apply that innovative thinking to tutoring as well.

BEN BOYCHUK, managing editor, School Reform News, The Heartland Institute, Chicago