Run away from ‘Race to the Top’

President Barack Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan are offering states $500 million more in the third round of its “Race to the Top” competition. This round, called the “Early Learning Challenge,” aims to standardize early childhood education nationwide.

Photo credit Anissa Thompson

According to Duncan, “Our goal is to transform from a patchwork of disconnected programs often of uneven quality and uneven access into a coordinated one that truly and consistently prepares our nation’s young people for success in school and life.”

What Duncan means is that the federal government, whose presence in K-12 education increases every year and is leading to a one-size-fits-all public education system, now wants to standardize education for children from birth through kindergarten.

The purpose of the Early Learning Challenge is to focus on “young children … in each age group of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.” Do infants and toddlers need to be formally schooled? And even if they do, do we want the federal government telling us how to educate them? Do we want any level of government doing that?

This idea epitomizes the paternalistic attitude that is increasingly invading our state and nation. Utah should not take part in any effort to standardize our children, especially our youngest, most vulnerable children, or to pile more bureaucracy and red tape on top of the federal mandates that already overburden our public education system.

Utah should follow South Carolina’s lead and choose to sit this race out.

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  • Dimitri Moumoulidis

    I absolutely disagree.  Your narrow view of the “guvment out to get us” is ridiculous.  You should be praising the federal government for being frugal with these tax dollars by making discretionary competitive grants that rewards innovation from states who are providing solutions instead of just bitching about problems, as opposed to imposing their will on every state equally which is what you are implying but it isn’t factually the case.  This flat grant for a relatively small state like Utah can be stretched a long way.  Considering how screwed we are in terms of PPS, there is no doubting that Utah not only can use that money, we desperately need it.  Maybe you missed the part this last year in the Legislature where we struggled to find money for a solid reading program for those young kids but I didn’t.  I think that is fair because I must have missed the moment when a good idea came out of South Carolina but apparently you caught it.  Personally I feel those cud chewing hillbillies can do whatever they like but it doesn’t make it a good idea for Utah.

    We should be fighting like hell for this money.  As a father I want my son to succeed in life.  As a former business owner, I want to know that people I hire aren’t complete idiots.  As a patriot and someone who believes in the exceptionalism of our families in Utah, and the state of Utah, I want every opportunity for our children to lead the way in the American story and not be left behind thinking about how they wish they could be apart of the American dream.  The global competitive market is catching up to us and I can guarantee you that they are ecstatic about our failing education system.

    So is it that you hate America Matt, or is it that you just want us to fail?  I can’t tell.

    • Matthew Piccolo

      Thanks for your comment, Dimitri.  I understand that more money for education in Utah would be a good thing, if used well, but, in my view, the long term negative consequences of increased federal intervention in Utah public education are not worth a few million bucks today.  We can succeed without federal mandates (or funding) in Utah.

    • Diane

      I’m with Matt. Every state is different with different people. Utah already produces many bright people. Utah isn’t the reason the United States is falling behind internationally. If we allow the federal government to fund our education, then we are allowing the federal government to choose the curriculum for our students. That would mean drastic changes with very little parent involvement. We don’t need more money for education. We need parents who care enough to read to their children, and do math with their children and make sure that their children are staying ahead.

  • Diane

    I have one more criticism of this whole education plan.  If the federal government were to mandate pre-school for the entire nation it would cost way more than $500 million dollars per state. New buildings would have to be built. Then private pre-schools and daycares would quickly go out of business. This would be a big loss on an economic level. It would strain an already strained economy with higher taxes to pay for the programs while at the same time putting millions of people out of jobs and closing many private businesses.