Localize Education- get rid of the Department of Education and Common Core
Debate Rounds (3)
Pro's argument hinges entirely on the mistaken assumption that the US Education system is a Federal education system. Pro wrongly supposes that the Dept. of Education is the architect of the US Education system and wrongly imagines that the Common Core initiative is a Federal instrument. In fact, The US school system is already what Pro argues it ought to be.
Pro proposes 50 different school systems governed by 50 states among which competition ought to foster innovation and adaptation. But Pro demonstrates no awareness that the American school system is and always has been governed by a far more localized, granular, independent, and diverse set of political entities known as school districts. There are roughly 15,000 public school systems in the US, of which roughly 13,500 (90%) employ local school district governments to establish school curricula, budgets, and policies for 87% of K-12 schoolchildren. Most of these special-purpose local governments are overseen by independently elected school boards and the majority maintain significant discretionary powers to raise taxes, disperse funding, etc. Private schools and home schools educate the remaining 13% of children with even more independence and diversity. Most states reserve a fair amount of authority to establish educational standards, mandate testing, and maintain accountability within these local governments.  With a high degree of variability, school districts raise about 44% of funds themselves, another 44% comes from states, city, and county coffers and 12% comes from Federal dispersements. 
Con maintains therefore that education in the US is already significantly localized and to a greater degree (by two orders of magnitude) than recommended by Pro.
Con refutes the notion of a "one size fits all" Federal curriculum. In fact, the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act explicitly forbids the establishment of a national curriculum.  Pro correctly asserts that the 10th amendment limits Federal oversight of education.
Con further refutes Pro's unsupported assertion that the Common Core initiative is either unconstitutional or irrational. Common Core standards and testing were developed by the National Governor's Association for the purpose of improving consistency and comparability between the wide diversity of school systems. This was in direct response to business leader's complaints regarding large regional and local educational deficiencies in graduated students. Constitutional restrictions on the Federal Government don't apply and moreover, the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act prohibits the Department of Education from attempting to influence, incentivize, or coerce State adoption of the Common Core State Standards. 
Con's characterization of Common Core as "irrational" undermines his support of innovation through competition since competition without consistent benchmarking is non-determinative. To illustrate, let's employ a foot race metaphor in which each student is a runner. Teams are free to train, coach, and support runners as they see fit but require competition to evaluate performance relative to other teams. State Governments host competitions and serve as referees but if each referee uses a different set of standards, the results can't be compared nationally and local descrepencies cause some regional teams to never receive professional consideration. Therefore, a consistent set of standards (Common Core) is developed to allow the evaluation of competitors across the board. Losing teams are likely to find faults in the rules and some adjustment to the standards may prove necessary but such is the nature of competition and fault-finding doesn't make the necessity of standardization any less rational.
The debate title suggests that the US do away with the Department of Education but the text of the debate does not take up that subject. Perhaps we'll see some arguments to support this proposal in the next round. If we were to place the Department of Education's role in the above metaphor, we might see that Department's function as the principal record-keeper and publisher of rules and results.
Pro and Con agree that competition between a variety of educational curricula encourages innovation and improvement but Pro's characterization of education in the US as monolithic is simply not consistent with the facts. Competition exists today and serves to improve our present system. Removing (admittedly ammenable) devices designed to facilitate that competition such as Common Core or the Department of Education, would only weaken the competition Pro wishes to promote.
The Department of Education exists within the federal government
Common Core is controled by the federal government
Although Con says the federal government only controls 12%, and the rest is held by local levels, Common Core sets standards and regulations on those local levels. The federal government can create as much standards as they want, as long as the Department of Education still exists, giving them complete control over the local levels.
The federal government is therefore largely involved in Education, going against the Tenth Amendment, which violates states rights.
Cutting The Department of Education could save plenty of money for a nation deep in debt.
Con mentioned all the local levels of Education, but I think Con has a misunderstanding of what local education really means.
Local Education takes the subject of Education out of the federal government entirely
Use this as an example to express the TRUE need of state power in Education:
I live in New Hampshire. It snows it the winter. Someone has to plow the roads. The state plows plow the state roads. If DC had to come plow my street, the quality of plowing would be far worse.
Pro expresses that localization = better quality
States get limited benifits from the feds but yet they still have to pay tasks for their departments.
Con says the US already has localized Education and education would get worse by getting ride of federal regulations.
The truth is it would make education better.
This Is because states would be able to go off on these standards, teaching specialized classes and electives instead of sitting in Algebra for the 3rd year in a row.
The major problem with federal education is they make rules without seeing how they affect people.
Pro = dynamic education
Con = static education
First up, Pro offered the analogy of snow removal to demonstrate that State Govt is inherently more effective than Federal:
"I live in New Hampshire. It snows it the winter. Someone has to plow the roads. The state plows plow the state roads. If DC had to come plow my street, the quality of plowing would be far worse."
This analogy serves well enough to demonstrate the typical scope and capability of the Federal Govt and Pro's ignorance of the same.
1. Of course, the Federal Govt. does plow snow all over the country, often in places far more remote and inaccessible than New Hampshire: Yellowstone National Park, for example. Within and around National Forests, hundreds of thousands rely on Federal plowing programs for access to homes, lumber, mining, cattle, skiing- a host of interests. Many of these roads are not paved and require special care to prevent rutting and erosion. So while Pro assumes that the Fed would necessarily do worse than New Hampshire does plowing snow, Con sees no reason to make such an assumption.
2. The National Weather Service (a division of the Dept. of Commerce) provides weather and climate data, forecasts and warnings for the State of New Hampshire. When it comes to deciding when and where to deploy snow plows, how much snow there will be and whether it's safe to drive, New Hampshire relies on the Federal Govt. Without the effective dissemination of reliable NWS forecasts, snow removal in New Hampshire would be far slower and less efficient.
3. Between 2001 and 2012, 64% of the New Hampshire State Transportation Budget was funded by Federal Sources.  Overall, over 30% ($1.7 Billion) of New Hamphire's 2017 budget comes from Federal revenue.  In a very real sense, DC does, in fact, plow your roads by guaranteeing that States allocate funding to transportation.
4. And when the snows get deep (which happens often enough in New Hampshire), the Governor can declare a major disaster, during which the Fed covers at least 75% of State & Local costs for emergency services,for restoring infrastructure, and yes, for snow removal. In recent years, FEMA paid New Hampshire $4.7 million for a snowstorm in Jan 2015, $6.1 million for one in Feb 2013, $6.4 million for flooding in June 2013, etc 
The Fed doesn't tell New Hampshire where or when or how to plow Pro's street but it does pay for most of it. This makes sense because snow plowing is a significant necessity for public safety and commerce and States tend to underbudget for things like snow removal (as happened in New Hampshire in 2014 and again in 2015)  Contrary to Pro's assumptions, without Federal foresight and Federal financial backing, the quality of snow plowing in New Hampshire would be substantially worse.
Now, we could save a lot of money by doing away with the Dept. of Commerce, the Dept of Transportation, the National Weather Service and FEMA, but shouldn't we first understand how those entities work together with State and local governments to provide essential services more effectively, as they do with snow plowing in New Hampshire, before we make those cuts? Similarly, Pro has suggested that we save money by eliminating the Dept. of Education without demonstrating an understanding about what that department does and does not do.
Let's move on to the second specific case proferred by Pro: Pro has to take a third year of Algebra. I strongly suspect that this complaint is at the core of Pro's dissatisfaction with the US Education system and that any plan that might allow Pro to transfer out of math into his preferred elective course of study would receive Pro's full endorsement. Not that Pro can be faulted for this outlook; Algebra can be mind-numbingly dull.
So, who requires Pro to take a third year of math and why?
Since the 1990's, employers have expressed increasing dissatisfaction with the workplace readiness of new employees. This dissatisfaction extends to most skill sets, but let's focus on math- of particular importance to the rapidly expanding markets in science, engineering, and technology. These employers were increasingly hiring employees overseas who were not only cheaper, but demonstrated more advanced math skills than US candidates. Many studies investigated this problem, including studies like the Plymouth State University 2006 report "Making the Transition from High School to College and the Workforce" which found that math proficiency was a key predictor for college graduation, with the tipping point beyond Algebra II. That is, students with only Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry were far less likely to graduate than students who continued into Trigonometry, Calculus, or Statistics in their fourth year. New Hampshire community colleges were also finding that students who required even one remedial math course in college were half as likely to graduate as students who required no remedial math instruction.
At the same time, New Hampshire High Schools were examining assessment test results that showed that while 68% of New Hamphire students proved proficient at math up to grade 8, the 11th grade results showed only 38% of students remained proficient. A State Task Force on Mathmatics Instruction was convened and in 2012 made a number of recommendations to the New Hampshire State Board of Education. The recommendations included adopting the National Governor's Association Common Core Initiative standards for Mathmatics because,
A. Common Core recommended a full four years of math for high school students,
B. Common Core standards were mostly in alignment with New Hampshire's existing curriculum, and
C. Common Core Assesments would allow the state to evaluate student performance on nation-wide basis. 
The State Board agreed to implement Common Core standards in Mathmatics for the purpose of assessment testing, but continued to leave it to local school districts how to prepare for those tests and whether or not 4 years of math would be required. Some NH school districts did add more math to their curriculum in response, but manyonly moved from 2 years of math to 3 years. In spite of Common Core recommendations, few NH high schools require 4 years of math.
So- Pro blames the Department of Education for his third year of math but that Department not only has no authority in the matter, they are prohibited by law from even recommending how many years of math a New Hampshire High School should have. Pro might blame the State of New Hampshire for adopting the new standards if those new standards prompted his school district to increase its mathmatics curriculum, but we should stress that the State made no such requirement.  in the end, the decision was left to Pro's school board and if Pro would prefer to be less ready for college and the workplace than the State recommends, Pro's only means of redress is through that autonomous political entity.
In Pro's specific case, Pro's New Hampshire school district retains power over its curriculum including how many years of math Pro must endure. The Fed has no authority. The State has made a recommendation but most school districts have not fully complied. Non-compliant schools have not been penalized, compliant schools have not been rewarded.
So far, Con has demonstrated Pro's argument to be based on erroneous assumption and therefore meritless. Con looks forward to Pro's conclusion.
The National Weather Service does not affect the quality of the work being done, they only direct workers to their positions. Proving Cons NWS statement pointless.
Money spent by the federal government for plowing roads also has nothing to do with the quality of the roads.
THE NUMBER ONE REASON TO CUT FEDERAL DEPARTMENTS:
Federal departments do give people benifits, but for a hell of a price. If Education is localized that means people are getting better benifits for a cheaper price. It is already shown that the quality increases In local areas, and the people of different states have more of a say in voting for education, allowing them to keep all of the benifits they want. It also gets ride of many federal employees who eat up OUR money.
By the Way Con: math is by far my favorite subject, I am in trigonometry as a sophomore. That was only an example, my core beliefs are stated above.
Do not put words in my mouth.
Common Core was not simply a suggestion, it is required for states unless they want to be fined. The 50 state experiment that I outlined early demonstrates that state being specialized can learn from each other to create an evolving country.
Pro has argued that as implemented by the Dept of Education, the Common Core initiative represents a complete appropriation of State and Local authority over classroom standards, policy, and curricula in violation of the 10th Ammendment. At present, Pro insists, there is only one (Federal) educational standard where there ought to be 50 State standards, inhibiting dynamism in educational policy. Pro recommends the elimination of the Dept of the Education and the discontinuation of Common Core as the only corrections necessary to empower a diversity of State education plans.
Note that Pro does not qualify these statements. Pro flatly states that the Department of Education has "complete control," that Common Core is a universal requirement, that Federal law issues fines against non-compliant states.
Con's counter argument is that Pro's characterization of the US Education system is profoundly inaccurate, that most decision-making about schools is made at the level of school boards and therefore already far more diversified than Pro's 50 state solution. If there were only 50 curricula in 50 state, schools would be less diverse and therefore less dynamic than the status quo. Con's argument has no merit because that argument is predicated on the notion of a National conformity that simply does not exist.
Did the Dept. of Education implement Common Core? No.
"Myth: The Common Core State Standards are a federally mandated curriculum- The 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act forbids the Federal government from intervening in school curriculum development. States independently adopted the Common Core, a set of math and English Language Arts standards for K-12 students to reach by the end of each grade level. School districts design the curricula, and teachers create their own methods for instruction, selecting the resources best tailored to their lessons." 
Does Common Core amount to a National Curriculum? No.
"The Common Core is not a curriculum. It is a clear set of shared goals and expectations for what knowledge and skills will help our students succeed. Local teachers, principals, superintendents, and others will decide how the standards are to be met. Teachers will continue to devise lesson plans and tailor instruction to the individual needs of the students in their classrooms." 
In essence, Common Core is just a new State standard achievement test, which every State required long before Common Core. The difference is that 45 States decided to use the same test for math and English for the purposes of efficiency and improved inter-comparability. Does that imply greater educational conformity in those 2 subjects among those 45 states? Probably, but States benefit by conformity in all kinds of public services without necessarily surrendering their capacity for innovation and competition.
Does the Department of Education require Common Core or fine States that don't adopt? No, that's against the law.
"The Every Student Succeeds Act allows states to adopt Common Core but does not require it. In fact, it requires the Education Department to remain neutral: "The Secretary shall not attempt to influence, incentivize, or coerce State adoption of the Common Core State Standards developed under the Common Core State Standards Initiative or any other academic standards common to a significant number of States, or assessments tied to such standard." 
A number of States like Virginia and Texas never adopted Common Core, while others like Indiana and Oklahoma gave up Common Core. Federal Education disbursements to non-Common Core States consistent before and after rejecting Common Core and certainly no fines have been levied for failure to adopt Common Core.
Furthermore, the continued diversity and autonomy of school curricula across the country serves as proof that the kind of localized education Pro hopes to one day attain, in fact, already exists and to a greater degree than merely 50 plans for 50 states.
Although letter grading remains the norm, many school systems are experimenting with different scales. M.S. 442 in Brooklyn uses a green/yellow/red scale. Schools in Kentucky, Oregon, Kansas, and Hawaii are shifting to standards based grading as are the 3 largest cities in California. 
About 20% of public school require school uniforms, although there are no State level mandates. 
Although yoga has become a popular Phys Ed elective in many West Coast school districts, some Southern schools have banned yoga from the curriculum 
Chicago Public Schools require sex ed. for every grade K-12 while only 40% of schools nationwide require at least some sex education before graduation. 
When it comes to teaching controversial political topics like religion, gender, labor, climate change, evolution the range of regional education practices is quite diverse and well demonstrates the independent authority of local school boards. How could such polarity exist if a single national standard were anything close to true?
To the extent that Con has demonstrated that the American Education system is today significantly localized, with State and local govts retaining far more significant control over school policy, budgets, and curriculum than ant Federal authority Pro's characterization of American Education is shown to be inaccurate. His recommendations to dispose of Common Core and the Department of Education are not only unnecessary remedies but likewise based on inaccurate assessments of those institutions' functions and jurisdictions. Pro's case must be found to be without merit.
My thanks again to Pro for raising this topic.
Please vote CON.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ramshutu 1 day ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con used a number of detailed arguments, and refuted most of Pro's claims by outlining the common core features, and it's benefits; Pro didn't offer much of an arguement against Con's details points - therefore Argument to con. Con offered sources whereas pro did not - therefore Sources to Con.
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