By Phil King, February 17, 2012 –
Earlier this week I read a Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorial piece: “End-of-course exams in Texas schools raise a furor” with dismay. The piece discusses the impending “end-of-course” exams in Texas public high schools, which will count for 15% of the student’s final grade.
Much controversy surrounds this “latest” iteration of standardized testing in public schools. Once again, parents, teachers, school administrators (and many legislators) have voiced concern and yet, here we go again. Standardized testing is not in and of itself the problem, but is symptomatic of the real problem: the idea that state and federal authorities are better equipped to manage education than our local communities.
I wonder, whatever happened to local, independent school districts? Every year state and federal authorities encroach more into the operation of local schools. The end result is more often bureaucracy than better schools. The Texas Education Agency itself has a budget of over $279 million.
No one disagrees with testing and accountability, but we have gone from well- intended state and federal assistance to micro-managing the local classroom. Standards on top of standards, report after report, mandates upon mandates have done little more than dramatically add to our school districts’ cost of doing business. It has forced schools to shift money and focus out of the classroom and into administrative functions.
As conservatives we are supposed to believe in local control. We also believe that over-regulation of the private sector hurts business productivity, kills jobs, and lowers profits. Why, then, do we believe it is different for public schools? Last legislative session we fought to give local school districts more control of the classroom. We must continue the battle to give local school districts more autonomy next legislative session.
After all, who do we really trust with our children’s education? Centralized state and federal agencies, or parents, local teachers, and locally elected school boards? I’ll trust local control over big government every time. It is time we return to the time-tested model of independent school districts and local control.
State Representative Phil King serves Parker and Wise counties in the Texas House of Representatives. The Star-Telegram piece referenced in this editorial may be found at the following link: http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/02/15/3738232/end-of-course-exams-in-texas-schools.html
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