Six Reasons Jeb’s Plan Fails to End Federal Tyranny in Education

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (photo credit: Michael Vadon, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Former Florida Governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush released his education plan on January 18th.  In it, he tries hard to sound like he cares about and supports local control and parental autonomy. In fact, the document, on pre-K through grade 12 issues, is merely a kinder, gentler form of federal tyranny that continues unconstitutional government involvement in pre-K, high stakes testing, data mining, and K-12 education in general. The plan fails on multiple important fronts:

1.) Federal Involvement in Education

Since its creation in 1979, the U.S. Department of Education (US DOE) has done untold damage to academic excellence, state sovereignty, and parental rights. At least $2 trillion have been spent with no improvement in academic achievement. 

Source: Cato Institute

 

The US DOE needs to be eliminated as Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have called for and, in Paul’s case, have written legislation to accomplish. Bush’s plan does not attempt to do that, but rather lauds “…the limited, but critical role of the federal government to create the conditions necessary for every child to graduate from high school prepared for the demands of college or the workplace.” The federal government has NO constitutional authority to be involved in the education and career plans of American citizens, and its efforts to do so have been an abysmal failure.

Bush has taken credit for the disastrous and tyrannical Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and his document lauds its alleged “recent restoration of state control over accountability decisions” and is under the delusion that “as the newly reauthorized Every Student Succeeds Act reinforces, states need to be held accountable for serving their citizens, not federal bureaucrats.”

First of all, ESSA was a bill that had 100 percent Democrat support with more Democrat votes than Republican — Democrats being the party that has given us Race to the Top, NCLB Waivers, Obamacare and federal funds for Planned Parenthood and other big government disasters. Continue Reading

Dear Moms and Dads: Big Brother Is About to Join the Family

Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building in Washington, DC (photo credit: IIP Photo Archive via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump are making noise against the Common Core and the Democrats’ support for it. But have they looked at the gift the GOP-controlled Congress just gave the progressive movement? The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) just laid the groundwork for a federal takeover of basic, deeply personal functions of the family.

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan is excited about the many gifts the Republican Congress tucked into the Every Student Succeeds Act (see here and here to learn how your House member and senators voted). Among the bill’s progressive delights is the expansion of government schools and other organizations to usurp parents’ rights and responsibilities in practically every aspect of their children’s lives.

Duncan is a fan of schools’ mission creep: “I think our schools should be open 12, 13, 14 hours a day,” he said in a 2010 interview. “It’s not just lengthening the school day, but offering a wide variety of after-school activities: drama, arts, sports, chess, debate, academic enrichment, programs for parents, GED, ESL, family literacy nights, potluck dinners.”

With ESSA’s programs to promote “21st-century community learning centers” and “full-service community schools,” Duncan gets his wish and more. These programs are designed to replace parents, family, church, and other private associations with the suffocating ministrations of all-wise, all-powerful Government.

Take first the 21st-century community learning centers (CLCs). Continue Reading

Four Reasons Why Student Privacy Is in Grave Danger — Unless Congress Rejects This Bill

There is no rest for the weary. Congress continues to erode student privacy along with parental autonomy. In February, we warned of the bill to reauthorize the National Center for Education Statistics and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). This reauthorization bill, called the Strengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA), allows the federal government to collect, analyze, and share the most intimate details about our children — the workings of their minds.

Concern about SETRA derailed its passage earlier this year. But just before adjournment for the Christmas holidays, while everyone was reeling from the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the $1.1 trillion spending bill, the Senate slipped SETRA through with no discussion and no recorded vote.

Here is a recap and update of what we wrote earlier about the extremely serious problems with SETRA:

SETRA reauthorizes the 2002 Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA) that has been very problematic, because it started the concept of state longitudinal databases, evaded the prohibition on a national database by creating “national cooperative education statistics systems,”  allowed personally identifiable information to go to international agencies, and removed the  previous penalties of fines and imprisonment for misusing individual student data. SETRA continues or worsens all of that. Here are four major problems with SETRA (A detailed analysis of these points is available HERE):

1. SETRA seeks to expand federal psychological profiling of our children.

Section 132 of the bill (page 28, line 16-21) inserts the following:

“and which may include research on social and emotional learning, and the acquisition of competencies and skills, including the ability to think critically, solve complex problems, evaluate evidence, and communicate effectively…” (Emphasis added).

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Republican Congress Thwarts American People, Passes Obama-Backed Education Bill

U.S. Capitol Building

Several Republican presidential candidates had a great opportunity over the last two weeks to take the lead on an issue critical to millions of conservatives – federal control over public education. A couple helped their cause, a couple did not, and one blasted further down into the crater he’s been in from the beginning.

On Wednesday, the Senate followed the House in passing the conference report reauthorizing No Child Left Behind. Propaganda for the new bill, called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), trumpeted that it would return education control to the states, allow them to discard the Common Core national standards, and prohibit the Secretary of Education from dictating standards and assessments.

In fact, ESSA will have pretty much the opposite effect. It lays out particular requirements for state standards and uses code language throughout that gives the federal government the tools to pressure the states to stick with Common Core rather than risking their federal money by adopting something better. It maintains the federally dictated testing regimen and requires states to implement assessments that are expensive, that have been proven to be ineffective and unworkable, and that operate not by assessing students’ academic knowledge but rather by measuring their attitudes and dispositions.

Equally bad are ESSA’s new preschool program (extending federal tentacles over toddlers) and its institution of President Obama’s pet project, “21st-century community learning centers.” The latter means that schools will be expanded to replace family and church as the center of every child’s life, offering myriad “services” including mental-health programs. Continue Reading

Republican Leadership Prepares to Ram Massive Education Bill Through Congress

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Just a few weeks ago, Speaker Ryan promised not to ram through thousand-page bills without allowing realistic public analysis and input. But with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which would reauthorize the failed No Child Left Behind, Speaker Ryan is already breaking his promise.

The House and Senate bills that resulted in the ESSA “compromise” were rushed through those chambers with little allowance for public input. Then, a hastily appointed conference committee rushed through its rubber-stamping in a matter of hours.

Now ESSA is being put to a House vote — only two days after the 1,061-page bill that came out of the secretive conference committee was made available. Members of Congress haven’t even had time to read it, much less communicate with their constituents through town hall meetings or otherwise. So the members will be voting on something they can’t possibly understand.

A preliminary and necessarily incomplete analysis of ESSA shows numerous problem that should kill the bill:

  • Several provisions that won over fence-sitters in the House, such as the Salmon amendment allowing parents to opt their children out of the federally coerced assessments, are gone.
  • No additional student-privacy provisions are included — in fact, the bill essentially ratifies the Obama administration’s gutting of federal privacy law.
  • The bill includes so many “alignment” and “coordination” requirements for standards, and so many disturbing requirements for psychologically profiling assessments, that any so-called prohibitions on what the Secretary can do are meaningless.  In any event, the bill contains no mechanism by which the states can enforce such prohibitions.
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Big Brother Wants to Know Everything — Yes, Everything — About Your Kids

In our last episode, we found former federal education official Joanne Weiss admitting how the U.S. Department of Education (USED) coerced the states to sign up for the Common Core scheme of national standards, national assessments, and other federally dictated policies. This development led Ze’ev Wurman to dig up an old video of Ms. Weiss saying something else that parents might find interesting — a suggestion that USED might be planning to monitor individual students to track their progress.

The setting was a panel discussion at the American Enterprise Institute in January 2013. After Common Core architect David Coleman praised the hated No Child Left Behind (NCLB) statute for forcing more “accountability” on states, Ms. Weiss weighed in on the tension between allowing states flexibility while also holding them accountable for student achievement. Here is the money quote: “And flexibility is not a pass on having to deliver for every child. I mean, if anything, we can move from subgroups to a more personalized view, where every single child gets what they (sic) need.”

Under NCLB, states must report to USED various student information disaggregated by subgroup. For example, they must report on the achievement of economically disadvantaged students, limited-English students, etc. The feds are not told how an individual student performed, only how the students in his subgroup did.

But Ms. Weiss, who at the time served as chief of staff for Education Secretary Arne Duncan and director of the Race to the Top competition, was optimistic that new technology would allow the federal government to leap the subgroup barrier. Continue Reading

The Common Core Report Card: Scott Walker Gets a D+

In our Common Core report card, we graded Scott Walker and all of the GOP candidates based on the three following criteria: fighting the Common Core, protecting state and local decision-making on education, and defending child and family privacy. Then we averaged the three grades together for one final grade.

What does each grade mean?

A … Champions the issue, e.g., offers legislation, makes it a centerpiece issue. … Professes support, but has not provided leadership or otherwise championed it. C … Has neither helped nor hurt the cause. D … Has an overall negative record on the issue. F … Robustly and consistently works against the issue.

So how did Scott Walker do?

Ending the Common Core System: D+ Protecting State and Local Decision Making: D+ Protecting Child and Family Privacy: D+

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Overall Grade: D+

Until recently, Governor Walker’s rhetoric on Common Core has been good. He admits that, when he ran in 2010, it wasn’t on his radar and that’s certainly understandable given how the standards were pushed into the states. He rightly gives credit to the state’s citizens for making it an issue, something that may not seem like a big deal, but it is to activists who have been ridiculed as irrational by elitists in both parties.

Walker’s comments on Common Core include:

September 25, 2013 (Wisconsin State Journal): “I’d like to have Wisconsin have its own unique standards that I think can be higher than what’s been established and what’s been talked about at the national level.”

The above statement — made on the heels of increasing activism and debate about the Common Core — seems to be the first time in which the Governor spoke publicly about the Common Core.

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The Common Core Report Card: John Kasich Gets an F

In our Common Core report card, we graded John Kasich and all of the GOP candidates based on the three following criteria: fighting the Common Core, protecting state and local decision-making on education, and defending child and family privacy. Then we averaged the three grades together for one final grade.

What does each grade mean?

A … Champions the issue, e.g., offers legislation, makes it a centerpiece issue. … Professes support, but has not provided leadership or otherwise championed it. C … Has neither helped nor hurt the cause. D … Has an overall negative record on the issue. F … Robustly and consistently works against the issue.

So how did John Kasich do?

Ending the Common Core System: F Protecting State and Local Decision Making: D- Protecting Child and Family Privacy: F

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (photo credit: Michael Vadon via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Overall Grade: F

Like Bush, Kasich is an unapologetic cheerleader for the Common Core. His only response to the large and active anti-Common Core grassroots operation in Ohio is to make fun of them.

In May of last year, Governor Kasich said on a Cleveland radio program that the Common Core Standards were “written by local school districts.” Governor Kasich continues to be an ardent proponent of the Common Core standards — one who hook, line, and sinker accepts the false talking points of the Common Core developers, owners, and funders. Regarding Common Core, on June 4, 2015, Kasich said:

That is not something that Barack Obama is putting together.

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The Common Core Report Card: Marco Rubio Gets a C

In our Common Core report card, we graded Marco Rubio and all of the GOP candidates based on the three following criteria: fighting the Common Core, protecting state and local decision-making on education, and defending child and family privacy. Then we averaged the three grades together for one final grade.

What does each grade mean?

A … Champions the issue, e.g., offers legislation, makes it a centerpiece issue. … Professes support, but has not provided leadership or otherwise championed it. C … Has neither helped nor hurt the cause. D … Has an overall negative record on the issue. F … Robustly and consistently works against the issue.

So how did Marco Rubio do?

Ending the Common Core System: C+ Protecting State and Local Decision Making: B Protecting Child and Family Privacy: D

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Overall Grade: C

Sen. Marco Rubio has spoken strongly against Common Core and wrote a letter to Secretary Duncan in 2011 questioning the legality of using federal No Child Left Behind waivers to drive policy changes, like the adoption of Common Core, in the states. In 2013, Rubio was videotaped discussing his views on the Common Core State Standards and had this to say:

And I am very concerned, and quite frankly opposed to any effort to try to create some sort of national curriculum standard and then try to leverage the power of the federal government’s funding to force states to adopt a certain curriculum standard. State and local levels are the best places to come up with curriculum reform, and it’s something the federal government shouldn’t be deeply involved in.

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The Common Core Report Card: Mike Huckabee Gets a C

In our Common Core report card, we graded Mike Huckabee and all of the GOP candidates based on the three following criteria: fighting the Common Core, protecting state and local decision-making on education, and defending child and family privacy. Then we averaged the three grades together for one final grade.

What does each grade mean?

A … Champions the issue, e.g., offers legislation, makes it a centerpiece issue. … Professes support, but has not provided leadership or otherwise championed it. C … Has neither helped nor hurt the cause. D … Has an overall negative record on the issue. F … Robustly and consistently works against the issue.

So how did Mike Huckabee do?

Ending the Common Core System: C Protecting State and Local Decision Making: C Protecting Child and Family Privacy: B-

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Overall Grade: C

Gov. Mike Huckabee has a checkered past on the issue of the Common Core. Once an ardent supporter of the system, he now claims that the original “governor-controlled states’ initiative” eventually “morphed into a frankenstandard that nobody, including me, can support.” However, as recently as 2013, Mike Huckabee told the Council of Chief State School Officers to “[r]ebrand [Common Core], refocus it, but don’t retreat.”

As the campaign approached, Huckabee began to be more consistent in his opposition (although he was still giving a nod to the supposedly pure origins of the Common Core). In 2013, he opened his Fox News program by saying:

I don’t support what Common Core has become in many states or school districts.

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