Wyoming’s Pathway OutStudents-answering-teacher

Common Core is another expensive, out-of-touch and abstract educational notion foisted on parents, teachers and students. But like mules stuck in the mud, those doing the foisting refuse to open their minds to the very facts and problems that occur when these abstract notions hit the reality of kids and teachers in the classroom.

Outraged Wyoming parents want release from a bureaucratic grip that squeezes the joy and achievement out of their children’s education. The idea that a single elite group can get away with presuming to decide the educational fate of every one of the unique families across Wyoming enrages them. Our families, our culture and our faith are already with us, here in our communities in Wyoming, and they are under attack.

“Common Core is another expensive, out-of-touch and abstract educational notion foisted on parents, teachers and students.”

Regulation interferes with the simplest of initiatives. For example, if one home-school family should get together with another home-school family and hire a teacher, they would incur so many rules that they are in effect prevented from this commonsense means of advancing the education of their children in the way they deem best.  An educational monopoly managed by those who “know better” and enforced by police should have no place in Wyoming.

In our free society, competition must not be deemed illegal, nor must government actors be the sole voice in defining educational quality. Let public education and non-regulated private education exist side-by-side; let them cooperate and create; let them compete; and above all, let responsible leaders endorse the principle that parents together with teachers best determine what is right for their children.  

The path to educational freedom for Wyoming invites fresh thinking. Here are a few action suggestions (this is not an exhaustive list) for restoring excellence to public and non-regulated private education:

  • 1. State-Level: Deregulate private schools and homeschooling, allowing for a free and innovative private school system.
  • 2. State-Level: Repeal the Common Core Standards in ELA and Mathematics. Remove Wyoming from the Smarter Balance Consortium.
  • 3. State-Level: Wyoming’s application for a waiver under the U.S. Department of Education’s Conditional NCLB Waiver Plan should be amended to delete the Department’s four non-statutory conditions and include only the statutory requirements of 20 U.S.C. § 7861. xxviii
  • 4. State-Level: Restructure the State Board of Education, making it an elected board. This would allow parents and teachers more representation statewide, not less – diffusing power over education rather than consolidating it.
  • 5. State-Level: Recalibrate the state education-funding model to one that does not focus money at the district level, but rather serves as a model that creates an individual child-focused “backpack” for every education dollar spent. The money should be focused on the child, not the district. xxix
  • 6. District-Level: Incentivize districts to support student/weighted “backpack” budgeting.
  • 7. State-Level: Decrease the amount of required testing in the classroom.
  • 8. State and District Level: Establish a separate charter-school authorizer independent of the district.

After half a century of failing to “fix” a system that is not subject to fixing via mistaken edicts, we understand better how to restore and promote excellence. First Principles recognize that educational guidance of children is properly the responsibility of parents and the teachers of their choice.  We need to have the faith and humility to let the true experts, those closest to the children, implement love of learning.

The Wyoming Liberty Group’s next education policy brief will detail steps needed to move Wyoming off the road to educational serfdom and onto the road to educational freedom. ■

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