Joy Pullmann, Education Research Fellow at The Heartland Institute, talks about the two major trends in education, which she believes are conflicting trends. Before beginning her explanation, she asked the audience to view the two structures through a lens; what is the structure that most promotes the right and ability of families and local communities to govern themselves? Because that is a fundamental American right.
The first structure, or historical education track, is the government track; the top-down, “objective” testing structure of education that has dominated the system for a long time. Pullmann discusses that the progressive/government trend of education gained traction because progressives believed that objective measuring techniques (aka testing) would lead them to truth. But, Pulmann explains that objective testing is only a tool to be used to reach truth, but cannot get us there alone. Without context, test results are just empty numbers.
Pullmann goes on to explain that the government structure doesn’t empower children, but empowers bureaucracy. Many schools hire outside services (for example, testing) but they do so with no-bid contracts. The teacher certification system is flawed; a state-run system that mandates every teacher- even private- to become certified before entering a classroom gives power to the state to decide how teachers should teach. Common core hands the power over testing- the keys to education- to outside, state-controlled organizations which can change it however they want. Bureaucracy-empowered education is the opposite of what we want!
To contrast the government structure of education, Pullmann discusses the other kind; local control. By local control, she means that the parent should be the prime unit of control. Over history, the term “local control” has meant union control, or school board control, but Pullmann regards this as a “local control” failure.
Pullmann supports school choice, but it has to be real choice, and we can’t allow the state to “pretend” to trust the parents when they make the choices that they make.