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.