Teaching to the Test Dumbs Down School Standards

Published March 24, 2010

It’s understandable that Karl Rove would vigorously defend No Child Left Behind (“Obama Retreats on Education Reform,” op-ed, March 18), which is arguably his former boss’s signature domestic policy achievement. And he rightly criticizes the Obama administration for abandoning the law’s school choice provisions.

But the problem with the “accountability framework” Mr. Rove would have President Obama retain is that it created incentives for states to dumb down standards rather than raise them. Faced with increasing sanctions, what else would state politicians do? The old law’s 2014 deadline for 100% proficiency in reading and math was no more realistic than Mr. Obama’s new goal for all American students to be “college ready” by 2020.

Although Mr. Obama’s proposed overhaul of No Child Left Behind would abandon some of the law’s more pernicious provisions, the president would make matters worse by insisting the states adopt “voluntary” curriculum standards in exchange for billions in Title I dollars.

Bottom line: President Obama’s solutions for education reform are as prescriptive and bureaucratic as George W. Bush’s. More centralization is not the answer.

Ben Boychuk
Managing Editor
School Reform News
The Heartland Institute