Common Core: Is it Immortal?
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos stated in her January 16th speech at the American Enterprise Institute, “At the U.S. Department of Education, Common Core is dead.” But Common Core is most certainly not dead. It is alive and haunting classrooms, destroying teaching careers, terrorizing schoolchildren, and frustrating parents in cities and towns across the nation.
The incessant teaching to the test and testing, even for the youngest students, has caused angst among children. The frustration of parents who oppose Common Core is palpable.
When then-candidate Donald Trump promised to end Common Core, he perhaps didn’t realize this could only be accomplished at the state and local levels.
In many ways, Common Core has never been more alive. It is thriving in states that never approved it, in states that accepted it, and in those that supposedly have overturned it. The ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) plans that DeVos’s department has been approving or rejecting — sending back to states for revision — are proof that Common Core is not dead. Many believe ESSA served to enshrine Common Core as federal law.
Common Core for All!
States that never adopted Common Core, including Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia, are nonetheless affected to at least some degree by the standards because textbooks have been changed to comply with the faulty set of requirements used in so many other states. Language Arts books from major publishers present snippets of literature instead of full text because that is the Common Core way. Mathematics books have abandoned traditional algorithms for achieving correct math answers in favor of the complicated but useless methods demanded by Common Core. Even social studies and history books are different from how they were pre-Common Core because textbook publishers change context and structure according to the requirements of the standards.
A 2016 Hechinger Report article was titled, “In Texas, new math standards look a whole lot like Common Core: A national trend to overhaul math touches classrooms even in a place where Common Core is illegal.” Hechinger interviewed Texas teachers to find out how math was being taught in classrooms.
The Hechinger Report says, “Across the Lone Star State, as in the rest of the nation, number lines are replacing [pie chart] pizzas in lessons about fractions and lectures are losing out to rambunctious lessons in which kids seem to run the show.” The article continues, “And more teachers here are overhauling math class so that it’s not just about getting answers right or wrong, it’s about the joy and challenge of hunting for a solution, whether or not students find it on the first try.” (HechingerReport.org, 5-26-16)
It is typical Common-Core double-speak to rejoice when children run classrooms; when easily understood pie charts are replaced by confusing number lines; and when the so-called joy of finding wrong answers replaces tried and true methods of obtaining correct answers on the first try.
The Columbia University-associated Hechinger Report is supported by pro-Common Core organizations, including The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the American Institutes for Research or AIR. Gates is the largest private funder of Common Core. AIR helped develop computer-based Common Core tests used in several states.
States Change Names, Not Content
Some states have supposedly moved away from Common Core. In Florida, the standards were re-named “Next Generation Sunshine State Standards.” Estimates are that fewer than 100 small changes were made while most of the standards remain identical to the original Common Core.
In May of 2017, New York renamed Common Core “Next Generation Learning Standards.” Teachers got a reprieve from the requirement that they be judged by students’ test performance, but the standards themselves were left almost fully intact.
In Alabama, then-Governor Robert J. Bentley said no to Common Core but simply renamed what were basically identical standards “The College and Career Ready Standards.” Several other states have done the same thing. There are “Georgia Standards of Excellence,” “Kansas College and Career Ready Standards,” and “Oklahoma Academic Standards.”
Renaming with small tweaks has been the case in states where backlash against Common Core was “successful.” Many states continue to fully implement the standards under the name Common Core, and the standards remain as written. The original agreement with Common Core developer Achieve, Inc. allowed states to change only 15% of the content.
In February, Education Reporter will take a close look at Oklahoma, a state that supposedly replaced Common Core. The February issue will explore an article titled “How Common Core Taught Me Bureaucrats Will Always Win Unless We Slash Big Government,” written by Jenni White, the cofounder of Restore Oklahoma Public Education.
Jihad in American Schools
Multiculturalism has supplanted promotion of traditional American values in many public schools. Some college campuses are hotbeds of anti-Israel sentiment. This is the result of money spent by outsiders from Muslim-dominated nations.
Janet Levy writes at the American Thinker online magazine, “For decades, organizations and individuals have undermined our American education system by attacking our beliefs in a constitutional republic and our fundamental Judeo-Christian principles.” She continues, “These have been supplanted with a ‘multicultural’ viewpoint, which has taken the place of traditional American perspectives and values with accommodation and appeasement of protected minorities depicted as victims of the dominant culture.” Levy says that oil-rich Arab-Muslim nations have funded curriculum and influenced elementary- through graduate-school textbook content, and have contributed large sums of money to American universities to set up Middle East studies centers at universities.
Levy says, “Under the subterfuge of promoting a multicultural environment, these agents have replaced time-honored educational materials of American ideals and historical perspectives with anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-Judeo-Christian, and pro-Islamic rhetoric.”
This is playing out on college campuses where students promote BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction), a Palestinian-led crusade to boycott academic and other travel to Israel; to divest or never invest there; and to institute harmful sanctions against that nation.
Use of curricula that seem to promote Islam has been documented in elementary schools. Young students are instructed to learn the Five Pillars of Islam and to copy Islamic religious doctrine in Arabic script. All this is happening at a time when even a mention of Christianity is routinely prohibited in public schools. How have the Ten Commandments become illegal while the Five Pillars are emphasized? Levy indicates that it has been incremental, intentional, and destructive. (AmericanThinker.com 11-3-17)
‘Dream’ of USA Yet Wave a Mexican Flag?
An estimated 700,000 people have filed to receive Social Security cards, temporary work permits, and have been shielded from deportation due to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA.
Many believe that then-President Barack Obama overstepped his Constitutional authority when he issued the executive order that created DACA and in effect gave hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants a semi-legal status.
Supporters of amnesty programs and mass immigration portray DACA recipients as victims brought to this country as children. The notion is that they shouldn’t be punished for the illegal actions of their parents. Now they just want to be Americans, to work and study here.
Undoubtedly that is the case with some. But others attend rallies and near riots where they fly Mexican and other foreign flags, hardly an indication that they are looking lovingly at America as their home. At some rallies, the American flag has been lit on fire and burned to ashes. All DACA recipients aren’t model citizens; some who have been granted DACA status have been found to be members of violent gangs.
Peter Parisi wrote a commentary at The Daily Signal that says “Dreamers,” the name given toDACA recipients, have no right to stay in the United States. Parisi says that the Dreamers campaign is a public relations scheme, meant to tug at American heartstrings.
Some Dreamers are part of an orchestrated political “resistance.” About the rallies held in many cities, Parisi says, “Orchestrated by countless immigrant rights groups, the demonstrators have denounced President Donald Trump’s tough immigration policies, which have reduced illegal border crossings to a 45-year low, according to a December 5th report by the Department of Homeland Security.” The Daily Signal is the news website of the Heritage Foundation. (DailySignal.com, 1-3-18)
In California and several other states, DACA recipients are given in-state tuition at two- and four-year colleges and universities. They can attend public high schools. Some receive state and federal aid in the form of food and housing assistance programs.
Kyle Olson, founder of Education Action Group, said last June, “The University of California (UC) system, like many others around the country, is routinely giving preferential treatment to illegal aliens at the expense of American students, many of whom are attending at great sacrifice of their parents,” He continued, “It is disturbing to know the UC system is not even sure how many illegal students it has enrolled and is enabling by not enforcing our immigration laws.” (Fox News, 6-20-17)
The fate of DACA will likely be determined by Congress in the next few months. Many hope that at the very least, if DACA recipients are allowed to stay or are granted a path to citizenship, legislators will include a provision that would stop the chain migration that could welcome all their immediate and extended family members to come to the U.S.
By Any Means Necessary: A Radical Middle School Teacher
Every year at the National Education Association (NEA) convention, an organization called By Any Means Necessary sets up a booth to attract teachers and other education professionals in order to share informational materials. They also run candidates for various positions within the NEA organization; none have been elected to office so far.
By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) is a radically leftist organization that believes change should come about “by any means necessary,” just as their name implies.
One member of BAMN is Yvonne “Yvette” Felarca. She is the leader of the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, & Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality of BAMN. The group is associated with ANTIFA, the intentionally loosely organized “anti-fascist” group that is anti-Republican and particularly anti-President Trump. Felarca’s legal name is Yvonne but she often goes by Yvette when she’s fighting on the front lines of “the resistance.”
Felarca is a 47-year-old middle-school teacher from Oakland, California, who has participated in many demonstrations and has been arrested several times. In January of 2018, she is not listed among the teachers on the online directory at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley. But a call to the school confirmed that she is still a teacher there; the individual in the school secretary’s office declined to disclose what grade level, subject, or classes Felarca teaches.
Judicial Watch is trying to use Freedom of Information law to obtain documents about Felarca from the school district where she is employed. The watchdog organization says, “The teacher, Yvette Felarca, works at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School and is a prominent figure in By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), an organized militant group founded by the Marxist Revolutionary Workers League that uses raucous militant tactics to protest conservative speaking engagements.” Judicial Watch also writes:
“Berkeley Unified School District has accused Felarca of brainwashing and indoctrinating students for years and in a 2016 letter cited in a local news article, the district writes that her performance ‘reflected unprofessional conduct and unsatisfactory performance,’ both grounds for dismissal. The teacher repeatedly solicited students to participate in protests, used students to support her own personal political agenda, and repeatedly used leave time to attend immigrant rights marches in Washington D.C., even though the district says it is not an allowable use for personal or sick leave. (JudicialWatch.org, 11-3-17)”
Felarca was arrested in July of 2017 after she participated in a June 26, 2016 riot on the Sacramento capitol grounds. The charges against her include “assault by means of force likely to inflict great bodily injury, participating in a riot, and inciting a riot.” Felarca “gave television interviews after the clash.” Following the riot, there were calls for her to be fired from her teaching position. (Sacramento.CBSlocal.com, 7-19-17)
Felarca was also arrested in Berkeley, California, in late September of 2017, “following a scuffle with demonstrators who had turned out for a Patriot Prayer rally.” According to reports, “Felarca, an organizer of many anti-fascist demonstrations in Berkeley, has a history of publicly advocating for violence against her political opponents.” (CampusReform.org, 9-26-17)
In September, Felarca filed a restraining order against University of California at Berkeley College Republicans President Troy Worden, which many believe was a nuisance lawsuit. A recent court ruling indicates that was a correct assessment. Felarca alleged that Worden harassed, stalked, and threatened her. Worden maintained that the exact opposite happened, and that Felarca wouldn’t leave him alone. The order against Worden was dismissed in Alameda County in October of 2017. It should also be noted that BAMN filed four other such court orders last year.
Worden said, “Felarca’s frivolous legal actions were meant to intimidate me and hinder my political activism, but also prevented me from going to class on occasion.” He continued, “I can now go on with my main purpose at Berkeley, which is to get an education and exercise my free speech rights without interference.” (CampusReform.org, 10-30-17)
In January of 2018, Felarca was ordered by the Commissioner of the Superior Court of Alameda County to pay Troy Worden’s attorney’s fees, which were the result of her case against him. She must pay $11,000 to Worden’s attorney due to having filed “factually unsupported claims” against the college student. The attorney in question stated, “Felarca and her fellow travelers in BAMN/Antifa need to learn that the California courts are not their personal plaything to use and abuse at will by filing baseless and vexatious lawsuits.” (Breitbart.com, 1-8-18)
Felarca undoubtedly believes in her cause and there are those who celebrate her for it. The Mercury News calls her a “local Antifa celebrity.” Participating in riots and physically attacking others might persuade some people to join her side. But as it stands, an apparently violent and vindictive leftist activist is not only causing trouble on the streets and for at least one college student, she may also be influencing the minds of children in classrooms. They are watching someone who might be an inappropriate role model.
When Drexel University associate professor of politics and global studies George Ciccariello-Maher tweeted on Christmas Eve of 2016, “All I want for Christmas is white genocide,” the school condemned his tweet but didn’t punish him. In April, the professor saw an airline passenger give up his first-class seat to a uniformed member of the U.S. armed services. In a tweet, Ciccariello-Maher expressed his disgust over the courtesy shown and the thanks other passengers offered to the soldier. He wrote, “I’m trying not to vomit or yell about Mosul.” Drexel, a private university located in Philadelphia, distanced itself from Ciccariello-Maher’s statements, but did not fire him. When the professor sent a series of tweets after the Las Vegas massacre, attributing the killer’s actions to “white men” feeling “entitled,” Drexel put him “on leave,” not because of what he said but for “safety” reasons. Ciccariello-Maher resigned effective December 31. He blamed his decision on racism (he is white); the weakness of tenure protection (he had tenure); and fears for his personal safety. He does not blame his predicament or unemployed status on a personal lack of judgment. (InsideHigherEd.com, 1-2-18)
Democratic National Committee vice-chair, Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, tweeted a photo of himself holding up a copy of a guide-book for radical leftists in the Antifa movement, saying the book would ‘strike fear in the heart’ of President Donald Trump. At a time when the nation has been plagued by violence in the streets, particularly on or near college campuses, taunting the opposing party with The Anti-Fascist Handbook that promotes violence against political opponents is apparently a source of amusement for a leader of the Democratic Party. This is what currently serves as a role model for children and young adults. Ellison is the highest-ranking Muslim in the Democratic Party. (Newsmax.com, 1-3-18)
Book of the Month
Creating the Declaration of Independence, David J. Shestokas, Constitutionally Speaking, 2017, $14.95
In a follow-up to his 2015 book Constitutional Sound Bites, attorney David Shestokas teaches about the foundational documents of the United States. He says, “The Constitution is a set of rules to give life to the Declaration’s central philosophy.” His two books are great resources because they include stories that bring the Founders to life. Shestokas’s works would together make a fine civics course, particularly for those who seek to become citizens familiar with America’s past and present, and who hope to to share our “common heritage.”
Creating the Declaration of Independence details events that occurred simultaneous to the writing of the document. The author explains the thought processes leading to its creation by providing a behind-the-scenes look into the minds of those who created our system of government, including facts about its foundation, premise, and structure. The book is intriguing, accessible and not too complex even for most middle-schoolers.
Shestokas examines Richard Henry Lee’s Resolution for Independence, the important work which preceded the Declaration.
He helps the reader picture Thomas Jefferson in Philadelphia at the Second Continental Congress, homesick for his beloved Virginia home, as Jefferson discovered “the low level of importance that a written declaration of independence” held in the minds of several of his fellow delegates. Over dinner, Jefferson and John Adams discussed the necessity to clearly explain to the people why the colonies needed to break away from England. That night, they created a rough outline of the Declaration of Independence.
Jefferson said the document had to be relatable to the American people, writing, “Ultimately it will need to be an expression of the American mind and make clear that our independence is simply common sense.” Shestokas explains the natural-law-based philosophy of U.S. government, which was unique at that time in history. He states that four things must be present for a “government founded on philosophy” to survive:
1. An understanding by the people of the philosophy
2. An acceptance by the people of the philosophy
3. Conduct by the government consistent with the philosophy
4. Consent of the governed
It would serve us well to remember that all 56 signers of the Declaration risked not only their livelihoods but their very lives when they put their signatures on that piece of paper and submitted it to the world.
FOCUS: Did Teachers Really Used to Make Kids
by Sandra Stotsky
Originally published by the New Boston Post (NewBostonPost.com) on Dec.7, 2017. Reprinted with permission.
Common Core supporters have been asserting that before Common Core’s emphasis on skills, all our teachers did for 50 years was ask kids to memorize facts. So implies Alfie Kohn in The Schools Our Children Deserve, in arguing that students didn’t understand what they used to be taught in arithmetic: “Drill does not develop meanings. Repetition does not lead to understandings.” Kohn’s version of the past was echoed and carried to its seemingly logical conclusion in Constance Kamii’s well-known assertions about “The Harmful Effects of Teaching Algorithms to Young Children.”
Common Core supporters also charge that pre-Common Core standards amounted to little more than fact-memorization. We find a version of this charge in a comment by David Mattingly, a professor of physics at the University of New Hampshire, in his commentary on New Hampshire’s previous science standards. He says, “The previous standards involving relativity … were about facts and memorization.” (ReachingHigherNH.org, 4-27-17)
Mattingly was trying to make the case not against student understanding of relativity but for the focus of the NGSS on climate science.
Keep in mind that Professor Mattingly was advocating for Achieve Inc.’s new science standards, called Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which are aligned to Common Core’s mathematics standards. Students are deemed “college ready” if they pass a test presumably based on what Common Core calls an Algebra II course. (No one yet knows the cut-off scores on Common Core-aligned tests in grade 11, or what the test items are.)
If the charge about “previous standards” is correct, the unanswered question is: Who taught our teachers and state departments of education staff to stress fact-memorization?
Most teachers have been trained in education schools that follow regulations developed by the staff in state departments of education, most of whom have also been trained in our education schools. And teachers have very often been required to enroll in professional development workshops given by educators linked to our education schools or state departments of education.
One begins to suspect the pot is calling the kettle black. The best pre-Common Core standards in English language arts, mathematics, history, and science, as in California, Indiana in 2006, and Massachusetts, never expected students to spend their time memorizing facts. They expected students to focus on understanding disciplinary ideas important to the structure, development, and practice of the discipline.
Even in beginning reading, long before students engaged in discipline-based learning, the best pre-Common Core standards stressed understanding of the alphabetic principle — how to use a limited number of written symbols for reading and writing — not memorization of hundreds of “sight words” as if English were written in ideographs.
The battle between “sight word” and “decoding” advocates goes back to the 19th century. One of the strongest arguments made by the “decoders” was the support they later cited for their position from large, credible bodies of research. Indeed, research showed that an alphabetic approach (decoding) was more effective than relying on memorization of large numbers of sight words and guessing from context. (See, for example, Jeanne Chall’s 1967 The Great Debate or Marilyn Adams’s 1994 Beginning to Read.)
The battle reached fever-pitch in 1955, a time when curriculum reform was in its heyday, and the public and publishers were busy reading a best-selling book explaining “why Johnny can’t read.” In his book by that title, Rudolf Flesch blasted education schools and primary grade teachers for stressing brute memorization of sight words as the preferred method for teaching beginning reading.
Teaching kids how to read English is still dominated by educators who think English is like Chinese, whether the approach is called Whole Language, Balanced Literacy, or something else. As soon as one sees standards calling for long lists of sight words for kids to memorize in K, 1, and 2, you can predict the presence of many mistrained teachers in charge of primary-grade classes.
The same false charges of stressing memorization without understanding have long been made against pre-Common Core textbooks and classroom practices for elementary teachers of arithmetic.
Barry Garelick blew up that false charge earlier this year by pointing out what had been in his 1950s arithmetic book, Arithmetic We Need by William A. Brownell, as well as in others:
“With respect to the math books of earlier eras, they started with teaching of the standard algorithm first. Alternatives to the standards using drawings or other techniques were given afterwards to provide further information on how and why the algorithm worked.”
Garelick went on to point out: “…most authors were the math reformers of their day ….” In his article, Garelick noted that early primary-grade textbooks provided many counter-examples to the charge that mathematics education then consisted only of “disconnected ideas, rote memorization, and no understanding.” (TraditionalMath.wordpress.com, 8-22-17)
However, perhaps it did for some students. Henry Levin, an education researcher at several major universities since the 1980s, claimed there was a stress on repetition and drill in schools for low-achieving minority students as well as a slow pace of instruction.
Had their teachers been encouraged in their training programs and/or in their professional development workshops to stress brute memorization? We don’t know. But Levin went on to establish “accelerated schools” in the late 1980s. A 2010 evaluation of these schools rendered an ambiguous judgment:
“While the findings on graduation and credit accumulation indicate that accelerated schools have benefited the academic outcomes of both earlier and more recent entrants into their programs … a strict interpretation of this evidence would conclude only that certain providers have more beneficial impacts on their particular sets of enrollees than other providers do on their particular sets of enrollees. (ProjectTurn.net)”
So, did teachers of yore stress repetition and drill in beginning arithmetic and no understanding? If they did, was the stress for all students, for just low achievers, or just for low-achieving minority students? We don’t know.
And if repetition and drill were stressed in the primary grades (regardless for whom), maybe it was a good thing.
According to a Task Group report for the National Mathematics Advisory Panel’s Final Report in 2008, repetition and drill to help young math students achieve “automaticity” with number facts are a good thing. Recommendation #11 in the Panel’s Final Report summed up much discussion and detail:
“Computational proficiency with whole number operations is dependent on sufficient and appropriate practice to develop automatic recall of addition and related subtraction facts, and of multiplication and related division facts. It also requires fluency with the standard algorithms for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. … [page xix]”
As the Task Group (consisting of David Geary, Wade Boykin, Susan Embretson, Valerie Reyna, Robert Siegler, and Daniel B. Berch) concluded:
“Debates regarding the relative importance of conceptual knowledge, procedural skills, and the commitment of arithmetical facts to long-term memory are misguided. The development of conceptual knowledge and procedural skills is intertwined, each supporting the other. Fast access to number combinations, prime numbers, and so forth supports problem solving because it frees working memory resources that can then be focused on other aspects of problem solving.”
So, both automaticity and understanding need to be cultivated, and probably were in the past. Charges that teachers did one without the other seem to be baseless.
It’s time for education debaters to make sure that both are being stressed in our elementary schools today — in reading and in arithmetic. There are negative consequences for avoiding memorization of number facts and fairly consistent sound-to-symbol correspondences (e.g., “ph” is usually pronounced like an “f”).
All children, whether or not low-income or minorities, need to memorize some things in the primary or elementary grades (including some dates in history), as well as understand why they should do so.
Are Education Achievement Gaps Based on Poverty?
by Sandra Stotsky Originally published by the New Boston Post (NewBostonPost.com) on Nov. 26, 2017. Reprinted with permission.
Are “achievement gaps” caused by K-12 schools and the teachers in them? Many policymakers, including those at the U.S. Department of Education, seem to think so, because Race to the Top federal grant applications in 2010 wanted states to hold teachers accountable for student test scores. Indeed, the purpose of the four-year State Plan in education, submitted in 2017 without legislative or public approval by a state’s department of education or public instruction, is to close these gaps.
Why? Because closing gaps is the major purpose of the Every Student Succeeds Act, approved by Congress in December of 2015 as a reauthorization of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
No one in Congress apparently noticed that whoever wrote this 1,000-page bill had given this 2015 reauthorization a purpose that wasn’t in the original bill. The 2015 re-authorization omitted the need to strengthen public education — a purpose that was clearly in the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in 1965.
Moreover, in addition to giving ESEA a purpose not in the original act, the 2015 bill didn’t tell states how the “gaps” were to be closed (i.e., by percentages or raw numbers), or between what groups (i.e., between African-Americans and Hispanics, or between “whites” and “Asian-Americans”). This is a far more important question for the average citizen to ask than he or she thinks. The bill might not have received unanimous approval in both the Senate and the House if the following three facts were known in 2015:
1) That the largest number of low-income children in this country are white. The National
Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University finds more “white” children in low-income families than any other racial group.
2) That many low-income Hispanic families are headed by illegal immigrants but are not identified as such.
3) That many African-American and Hispanic K-12 students are not low achievers.
As national and international test scores indicate, about 25% of American students are low achievers, but African-Americans and Hispanic students in 2016 constitute about 41% of our K-12 students.
High-income families may spend a lot of money (such as through tutorials or summer camps) to upgrade their low-achieving children. But there is no body of credible and clear evidence showing how successful these efforts are. Could the federal government mandate and pay for tutorials and summer camps for all low achievers in low-income families?
Policymakers want “gaps” closed between Hispanic and African-American students and other non-Asian students in this country without clarifying what is meant by a gap. The U.S. Department of Education could declare the gaps closed next week by defining the gap in raw numbers for the children of American citizens, including those of legal immigrants.
Regardless of how academic “gaps” are deemed closed and what groups are involved, what can the schools do besides spending the money in the categories required by the bills? They know that the needle has barely moved since 1965 on the demographic categories schools have been told to use since then. Nothing much has happened in 50 years to upgrade academically low-achievers in low-income families despite all the Title I money to their schools from the federal government and other money from private foundations.
In fact, educators in education schools and in professional development organizations have come up with almost consistently ineffective ideas, called “strategies” or “education reforms,” if we judge by empirical results on national and international tests. Their ineffective ideas have attracted lots of money from politicians eager to spend public money on fly-by-night schemes they claim address low achievement — schemes that seem to benefit only the companies advocating for them. Is that the best Congress and the federal education officials can do?
How You Lost Control of Your Local Schools
by Sandra Stotsky
Originally published by the New Boston Post (NewBostonPost.com) on Jan. 27, 2018. Reprinted with permission.
How did unconstitutional four-year state education plans get to be legal? Or are they?
In their new book, Deconstructing the Administrative State: The Fight for Liberty, Emmett McGroarty, Jane Robbins, and Erin Tuttle tell us about the overreach by bureaucrats in past decades through an “administrative” central government. They highlight the administrative state’s assault on the constitutional authority that U.S. states have in our federal form of government. Vast areas of state policy are now controlled by anonymous federal bureaucrats.
It is time to reduce the power of unelected bureaucrats in education by putting an end to most federal education mandates in kindergarten through 12th grade. It has always been clear that the federal government has no constitutional role in education policy making. Among the most egregious examples of overreach by the United States Department of Education into the K-12 school system are:
1) Bribing most state boards of education to adopt inferior Common Core standards and, then, tests aligned to these inferior standards by means of the Race to the Top competition in 2010;
2) Using unelected bureaucrats at the federal education department to comment on and approve the four-year state education plans (under the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA), all submitted without the approval of a state’s governor, state legislature, its local school boards, or the parents of the schoolchildren in the state;
3) Requiring states in the four-year education plans they submitted for approval to incorporate into all subjects in the school curriculum non-academic standards for social and emotional learning (SEL) without approval of these standards by any state or local medical or public health boards.
American education will begin to recover when parents and local teachers and administrators begin to regain control of local public schools, for which local taxpayers pay close to half on average while state governments pay for close to the other half. The federal government pays for only about 8% of their costs.
Was the process used by the U.S. Department of Education legal? And: If federal education officials had tried to use a constitutional process, such as a constitutional amendment, to try to get what they wanted (i.e., to centralize education policy making), who would have gone along?