Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, people hungered for a land of freedom and choice — a place where they could worship as they pleased, where they were free to prosper or to fail, where God and family were the most important aspects of life. This place used to be America.
Today, we live in a society of excuses and government dependency. Our culture is being lost to social engineering and suffocating government micromanagement. No more are we exceptional and overcomers of adversity; we are all victims. We are taught that we cannot succeed without the government’s “help.”
There are many examples I could refer to, but I am choosing just one to share now: our public education system. Public education has been corrupted by federal intrusion and forced compliance — intrusion in the form of Common Core and aligned high-stakes assessments, and compliance forced by a slightly veiled threat of withholding federal funds. Some of the changes, such as the gutting of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, have been accomplished by regulatory action, bypassing Congress.
The U.S. Department of Education (USED) did not exist until 1979, when President Carter created it to pay off teachers’ unions for their support. I can’t help but wonder how the education system that took the U.S. to the moon and back has been lost. How in the world did our 20th-century scientists, writers, engineers, historians, and political leaders accomplish so much without the benefit of nationalized standards and USED? And not only is USED unnecessary, it is unconstitutional, as education is not one of the enumerated powers given to the federal government. Education is a State’s responsibility, and RIGHT.
But USED has ballooned and morphed into a Leviathan intent on controlling ever-increasing segments of American family life. Case in point: the new “Family Engagement” provisions of the recently rammed-through Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). (See here and here to find out how your House member and senators voted.) Pursuant to that statute (laughably marketed as a “conservative” bill), USED has joined the Department of Health and Human Services to develop recommendations for improving program coordination and “quality” across federally funded early-learning and early-child-development programs, birth to 8 years of age. Parents are no longer considered the most important people in our children’s lives. These government agencies consider themselves “equal partners” in child-rearing.
The Departments have released a draft report of their statement on Family Engagement that can be found here. I find this draft report a disturbing demonstration of federal government overreach and intrusion into family life.
Disturbingly, ESSA allows government assessment of our children’s social-emotional and behavioral development. As part of that assessment, page 13 of the above report — the reason I felt compelled to write this essay — recommends “home visits,” allegedly to support fruitful relationships between families and teachers. All parents should be outraged that any government, minus some evidence of criminal activity, believes itself entitled to intrude into the sanctity of their home.
Beyond this fundamental objection, the “home visits” proposal creates a list of questions: Who will make these visits? What kind of training will they have? When will the visits happen? Will they be scheduled or a surprise? Will the teacher be the one doing the visits, and if so, who will be responsible for his or her personal safety? How will the teacher be compensated for this time? Who creates the criteria for the visit? What data points will be collected? Will the collected data be available for the family to review? Will parents have some sort of due process to correct erroneous statements and false conclusions? How will this data be used and shared? May the parent refuse the visit? Read the full report for other alarming recommendations.
If this proposal doesn’t motivate parents to stand up for their children and their families, and against the nanny government, the country founded by the heroes of 1776 is lost. It is time we take a stand. It is time we hold our elected officials responsible for the decisions they are making. It is time to be the country our founders intended.
Kim Fink is a grandmother, public education watchdog, and member of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association.