Feds in the Classroom: How Big Government Corrupts, Cripples, and Compromises American Education / Edition 1

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Thomas Jefferson warned that "the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." American elementary and secondary education shows how right he was. Two centuries ago the founders rejected federal participation in education and even rejected George Washington's plans on establishing a national university. It should be of little surprise, then, that the term "education" appears nowhere in the Constitution. Few early Americans would have considered providing education a proper function of local or state governments, much less some distant federal government. Federal control of the nation's schools would have simply been unthinkable. This view was the prevailing one well into the 20th century. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan campaigned, in part, on a proposal to close the federal department of education. How things have changed in a few short decades. Today, every state requires children to attend school, and most dictate precisely what the children will learn. Parents, in contrast, are able to make very few choices about their children's education. And what role does the federal government have now? It has drilled deep into almost every public classroom in America. Washington can now tell public schools whether their teachers are qualified, their reading instruction acceptable, and what they must do when their students do not achieve on par with federal demands. At the outset of his presidential administration, for example, George W. Bush pushed for the largest federal encroachment in education in American history. Through his No Child Left Behind Act, the federal government can dictate what will be taught, when, and by whom, to most of the 15,000 public school districts and 47 million public school children. Why the change? Is it a change? What's the cost to the taxpayers? What are the benefits to public school students? To public schools? Today, with the almost-complete consolidation of education authority in the hands of policy makers in Washington, the last of our edu

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Editorial Reviews

Frederick M. Hess
Neal McCluskey has written an energetic critique of federal education policy and the federal government's growing role in K-12 schooling. While some readers may disagree with McCluskey's analysis, this is a book certain to provoke lively debate.
John Merrifield
Excellent at several levels, Feds in the Classroom provides essential historical background and dissects key programs, court cases, and statistics. McCluskey brilliantly illustrates how intervention often, if not typically, produces the opposite of the intended result, and he points the way out of the political morass that engulfs U.S. K-12 education.
Michael Greve
The expansion of the federal government's role in education has been ineluctable, and mostly destructive. This book serves as a much-needed reminder that 'accountablity' in education must mean accountability to parents, not to federal mandarins.
Brian Riedl
McCluskey shows how Washington politicians—representing bureaucrats and unions, rather than parents and students—wrestled control of public schools from local communities. Washington's soaring spending and meddlesome regulations have brought academic mediocrity and social strife. McCluskey weaves through the history, law, economics, and politics of federal education policy, and offers a commonsense solution that empowers parents and local communities. It is a well-researched and fascinating book for anyone interested in fixing America's schools.
Education Next: Journal Of Opinion And Research
McCluskey reminds readers why well-intentioned calls for federal leadership and shiny plans for national programs can ultimately prove treacherous.
Myron Lieberman
The over-riding value of Neal McCluskey’s work is that it shows that most federal educational programs are overwhelmingly useless, if not counter-productive.
Congressman Scott Garrett (R-NJ)
Neal McCluskey's Feds in the Classroom is an essential read for policy-makers at any level of government. McCluskey compiles an accurate report card for our nation making it clear that only serious change will save the American public education system from flunking outright. Feds in the Classroom provides an historical, constitutional, and judicial scrutiny of federal education policy that I recommend to anyone who wants to know why America is not the global leader in public education, despite our extraordinary resources and limitless supply of American ingenuity. McCluskey's book has quickly become an essential resource for myself and my staff, and I encourage anyone interested in education policy to arm themselves with the facts provided within it.
Education Next: Journal Of Opinion And Research
McCluskey reminds readers why well-intentioned calls for federal leadership and shiny plans for national programs can ultimately prove treacherous.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742548596
  • Publisher: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 4/28/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 218
  • Sales rank: 1,525,216
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Neal P. McCluskey is a policy analyst with Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom. Prior to arriving at Cato, McCluskey served in the United States Army, taught high school English, and was a freelance reporter covering municipal government and education in suburban New Jersey. More recently, he was a policy analyst at the Center for Education Reform.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 From the First Settlers to the Fifties: Going From Freedom to the Feds Chapter 2 Rise of the Feds: From the Great Society to Y2K Chapter 3 "No Child Left Behind": The Feds Triumphant Chapter 4 The Reckoning: A Report Card for the Feds Chapter 5 Enforce the Constitution: Make No Federal Policy Chapter 6 How the Judiciary Found the Federal Role Chapter 7 No G-Men Need Apply Chapter 8 Out of the Jaws: A Broad Roadmap for Reform

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2008

    Mandatory Reading for Politicians

    This book tells all of what is wrong with public education today. There is nothing wrong with 98% of the teachers, the administrators or school committees. It is the inept politicians who know little to nothing about public education who are the problem and are responsible for most of what is wrong in public education. NCLB and high stakes testing will eventually go down as the biggest waste of money in this country. They have not advanced education but set it back. It is one of the reasons why many times our kids are not competitive with other countries. Many of these politicians were independently schooled and you cannot compare independent and public education. Not that one is better than the other because it isn't but the public schools have to educate everyone who gets off the bus while the independent schools educate whom they want. Closing the achivement gap is an impossibiltiy without forcing many students out of school or slowing down the most talented. Maybe some day we'll have brain transplants and that includes for politicians. Turn the resposibility of education back to the local school districts as was the intent of our constitution, get the feds out, and you will see tremendous improvements. During my forty years in public and independent school education I have seen the downfall. Have the feds look in a mirrow and they will see the reason why this has happened. I am sure they had good intentions when they got involved but as the old expression goes: THE ROAD TO HELL IS PAVED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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