The federal education program No Child Left Behind is leaving behind the very children it was supposedly designed to help, said R. Lee Wrights, a candidate for the Libertarian nomination for president. With nearly 80 percent of the nation’s schools on the brink of receiving a “failing” grade, President Barack Obama recently announced that states would be allowed to apply for waivers to the program.
“This is apparently one of the few failures President Barack Obama doesn’t blame on his Republican predecessors,” Wrights said. President George W. Bush proposed No Child Left Behind and a Republican-controlled Congress enacted it into law in 2002. The law dictates that all elementary and secondary school children in government-run public schools be “proficient” in reading and math by 2014, according to standards set by politicians and federal bureaucrats.
“So here you have yet another federal government program that is not only unconstitutional but also an utter and complete failure,” Wrights said, “Yet rather than admitting it’s a failure and ending the program, politicians and bureaucrats insist on trying to ‘fix it.’” He called the fix a subterfuge because to get approval states must comply with standards the administration had already written but couldn’t get Congress to pass.
“This is another example of the dictatorial style used by modern American presidents from both parties,” Wrights said. “It is a classic example of the ruling elites trying to conceal failure in a blatant attempt to simply save face and subvert the limits imposed by law and the Constitution to expand their power.”
Wrights noted that several states had already tried to resist this latest federal intrusion into education, including Utah, Idaho, South Dakota, Montana, Michigan, Tennessee and Kentucky. North Carolina requested a waiver in August and will resubmit the request under the new guidelines.
Given this trend, Wrights said it was a good bet that a majority of the states will attempt to opt-out of this federal burden.
“As a result, it’s very likely that only those states with passing grades will be left subject to the law,” he said. “This will so skew the grades that federal education apparatchiks will be able to finally declare that No Child Left Behind is a success.”
President Obama said that despite its flaws, No Child Left Behind was the right thing to do because it promised to provide every child with an excellent teacher. But Wrights countered that the real question is whether parents should rely on government for the children’s education or assume the responsibility themselves.
“A child’s first and most important teachers are his or her parents,” Wrights explained. “What a child learns and where he or she learns it is a decision best made by parents, not politicians, bureaucrats or educational experts. If we really want to leave no child behind we will eliminate the political experts from the educational equation, because they have already proven they are unable to deliver what they promise.”
He noted that one out of every three students entering a government-run public high school doesn’t graduate, minority students are twice as likely as whites to drop out, and that even students who get their diploma have the reading and math skills expected of middle school students in other nations.
“Government-run education is a twelve-year ‘cookie-cutter’ factory system that treats everyone the same and produces more than its fair share of functional illiterates,” Wrights said. He said that deciding educational issue by majority vote inevitably results in “dumbing-down” what is taught .
Wrights called for eliminating the property taxes used to public schools and the income tax so that parents can afford to send their children to a school that conforms to their family values and standards, not the values and standards imposed by distant and detached education experts.
“If parents want their child to pray in school, to learn evolution or creationism, get sex education or learn abstinence, and not be harassed by bullies, they should have the means and ability to choose the school that best meets these needs,” he said.
Wrights, 53, a libertarian writer and political activist, is seeking the presidential nomination because he believes the Libertarian message in 2012 must be a loud, clear and unequivocal call to stop all war. He is a lifetime member of the Libertarian Party and co-founder and editor of the free speech online magazine Liberty For All. Born in Winston-Salem, N.C., he now lives and works in Texas.