I would never have imagined, a month ago, before I started to study Common Core, that there were members of the Utah State School Board and a top lawyer of the Utah State Office of Education who believed that genuinely high educational standards and actual freedom were unimportant in comparison to guaranteed equality of education.
The USOE lawyer, (responding to my question as to why Utah has adopted this educational system, Common Core, that won’t allow Utah a voice in amending its standards nor its common test,) said:
“Why would there need to be? [an amendment process] The whole point is is to get to a place where there is a “common core” – that would mean the same standards for all the states that adopt it. If the states had the freedom to “disagree” and “change” them, I guess they would no longer be “common”.”
This lawyer illustrates a key attitude happening at the USOE and Utah State School Board: these people realize Utah has ceded our sovereignty and freedom. They know lots of people don’t think the Common Core standards answer the legitimate question of “how do we help students truly succeed academically and truly become college-ready?”
Still, they push for Common Core because these educational leaders value being common more than they value being free.
A state school board member wrote to me yesterday, saying: “ I have always understood that it is the principle of “equality” not “freedom” that was the guiding principle of our constitution. Beginning with the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, etc. I have always understood the theme to be equality. It is that principle that sets us apart from other “free” nations like India and Mexico and the countless other free countries that don’t resemble us in any way.
Please explain why during my last tour of the Supreme Court in DC they expressed the same sentiment—not freedom but equality.
This is something I have never understood in your writings because you continue to reference freedom over equality and I have never heard that from a political scholar. Are you reading something other than these documents to draw your conclusion?
I understand perfectly that you might not agree with the tour guide’s script at the US Supreme Court but it is going to be a hard-sell to the people of this state to base this decision about the common core on principles that differ from those. How can I tell folks that your opinions about American values are better than theirs and we are going to base this decision on your minority views? What would the constitution say about that? I just need a good argument to take to them…what would it be? What should Brenda Hales say when the majority of folks do not agree with you? It is a hard place for her to be in when your views are a bit right of center and you are campaigning for ideology over substantive core standards. This is what I am struggling with and I need your help to answer this legitimate question.” – from the state school board member.
The Constitution is … the centerpiece of all U.S. laws and remains the protector of its citizens.
If you study it you will see that over and over and over again, liberty is the key term. Even in the very first line, in the Preamble to the Constitution, it says “to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” It speaks of freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of expression, over and over and over. It delegates checks and balances so that no one arm can threaten the freedom of another, though currently our federal arm is attempting to usurp our state arm in educational and other matters.
A tour guide’s script, of course, has no business being compared to the highest law of the land, our U.S. Constitution.
For fun, I just did a quick word check. “Equality” never shows up at all in the Constitution. The word “equal” does show up, but it comes in the context of equal numbers of votes (not a privilege we get under Common Core) and equal protection under the laws (not something I see happening with the adoption of common core). The tour guide made that part up.
Equality can never be mandated. The Communists tried it and look where it got them. Inequality –also known as diversity, uniqueness, the power to innovate and to soar beyond that which is mediocre and common– is a good thing.
The push towards nationalized education is directly opposed in spirit and in letter to the laws of our land. Besides the Constitution, three laws prohibit the direction, supervision or control in any way of standards, curricula and curricular materials and instructional practice.
The General Educational Provisions Act clearly states:
No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system.
Read that, and then read the “Cooperative Agreement” between the SBAC consortium and the U.S. Dept. of Education with its telephone conferences, status updates, coordinating “across consortia,” making data available on an ongoing basis to the federal government…
It is simply not legally permissable. And it matters. Our ability to govern educational decisions in Utah, matters. It affects our children and their families tremendously.
…I am campaigning for meaningful standards… it is meaningless to adopt un-amendable standards that are subject to change. It is meaningless to adopt unpiloted, unproven, “undocumented-to-functionally-improve-student-outcomes” standards, just because someone claimed and never even validated, that they are “rigorous.” Anyone can make claims, but we need evidence before we move forward.
The Common Core Initiative is multi-faceted. Some of us focus on the educational standards; some of us focus on the cost of implementation as taxpayers already maxed out; some of us focus on the intrusions on parental rights via the data collection and the FERPA revisions; some of us focus on the ways in which it is a Constitutionally illegal initiative.
In so many ways, we have put the cart before the horse on adopting the Common Core Initiative. We need to back up, slow down, identify reality, and identify which parts of the Common Core claims can be validated.
I don’t think you can correctly identify what I am doing as “campaigning for idealogy.” I want tangible answers. I want to know this thing is educationally legitimate, and the jury is still out on that. I want to know this thing is cost-effective, and the cost analysis hasn’t even been started yet in Utah. Other states have done cost analyses and based on that, have rejected it. I want to know this thing is not taking away parental rights over student data via FERPA changes and longitudinal database creation that is now legally perusable by everyone and anyone. I want to know that our state retained its rights under the Constitution so that we can amend anything we adopt.
That’s the truckload of reality that needs to be faced, which doesn’t fit neatly under the label “ideology”.
WE THE PEOPLE VIDEO: