Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution lists the Powers of the Congress. There is no mention of education on the list. Because education is not on the list it seems the 10th amendment applies: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." The law of our Creator assigns the responsibility of educating our children to their parents and families. Deuteronomy 6:5-9 " Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."
Notice the first command is for parents to love God with all their heart, soul and strength. That is the preparation phase for instructing your own children. Then, parents are to teach children a biblical worldview. The Department of Education has no constitutional or biblical grounds for mandating what our children should learn or by what methods they should be educated. Government has trespassed into the family domain when it attempts to supersede our rights to educate, train and discipline our own children.
The Catholics have a law called the Law of Subsidiarity. This law declares that nothing should be done by a larger and more complex organization that could be done by a smaller and simpler organization. In other words, the local government should do only those things individuals cannot do for themselves. The state government should only do those things local governments cannot do and the federal government should only do those things the state governments cannot do. When it comes to educating our children, the family should be the first option and the government should be the last resort.
The intrusion of Big Brother in the area of education was spawned by the Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957. A paranoid fear of falling behind the Soviet Union in science and technology gripped the nation and the government jumped in. The National Defense Education Act of 1958 was a reaction to the Soviet advances.
A greater tool for intrusion was the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's. Brown vs. Board of Educational declares segregation in our schools to be unconstitutional. There was very little disagreement that it was necessary for the government to intervene especially due to the southern resistance to desegregation. A one time forceful attempt by the government to right a leaning ship was entirely justified but after constitutional law had been declared and enforced, the government refused to go away.
Even more government intervention was forthcoming. President Johnson declared his War on Poverty and he directed government to address black-white economic disparities in public schools. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Higher Education Act were formed to level the playing field.
The ugly duckling floating on this pond of government intrusion is the fact that test scores and academic achievement have decreased since Big Government rode into town. Government may not necessarily be the cause of the decline but more government spending hasn't done one iota toward improving test scores. The decline began in earnest after the decade of the '60's and it may have more to do with the new worldview embraced by that generation. The passivity, 'do your own thing', Bart Simpson response to existing authority may have contributed greatly to the decline.
Title 1 was a part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. $1 billion ($7 billion in today's money) was provided to upgrade schools in poor neighborhoods. Years later, George Bush sold out to big government advocates like Senator Edward Kennedy when he signed the No Child Left Behind Act which is a part of Title 1. There is no evidence that this act has improved education performance among American children. Try to find a politician who will even talk about the No Child Left Behind Act. They blush at the very mention of it. The stated goal of achieving reading and mathematical efficiency among all school children by 2014 is now only a foggy fantasy. This mandate has failed in its objectives and, once again, our government is left unaccountable for flushing billions of dollars down a dark, mysterious hole.
Parents should evaluate the benefit for investing so much money in their children's college education. Because of the availability of easy, wimpy courses and the trivial academic requirements prevalent at nearly all institutions of higher learning a Bachelor's degree is now the equivalent of what a high school diploma used to be. It's hard to get a good job without a BA. The average cost of sending a student to a public college is $7,000/year not including the cost of meals, textbooks, and boarding.
The federal government submitted $125 billion in new loans in 2010. 35% of college students drop out before graduation. There doesn't appear to be any correlation whatsoever between increased spending and student retention or academic achievement. The U.S. government invests $200 million yearly to improve education. That improvement is non-existent or too miniscule for detection.
Ending on a high note, there are some good things happening in education. The homeschool and charter school movement is experiencing great growth and much success. Government educators continue to be mystified by the high test scores of homeschooled children.
We should credit government for addressing racial and economic disparities. Once that mission was accomplished the government should have retreated but like the local drunk, once the government draws a draft from the keg of intrusion it never stops. It becomes intoxicated with power and blinded to its own ineffectiveness.