In an outrageous statement issued this week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan threatened to withhold educational funding from Calfornia because of AB 484. The California bill, moving through California’s legislature, can exempt millions of students from Common Core tests, at least for a little while.
But Duncan won’t have it. He must have his student data without delay!
I will file this one under “We Are Not a Monarchy And Arne Duncan is Not a King.”
Duncan’s “off-with-their-heads” statement brandished the threat of no-funding over California’s head.
And he dropped another ridiculous bomb: He said that federal law demands that California give the tests. Should we laugh? Duncan picks and chooses which federal laws he feels like respecting.
Is there some law he’s referring to that trumps the General Educational Provisions Act (GEPA)which prohibits Duncan from supervising education and testing in any state? GEPA law 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…”
Or is Duncan referring to some kind of a federal law that suddently trumps the U.S. Constitution? The supreme law of our land demands the federal government say the heck out of the local business of educating and/or testing students.
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” -10th Amendment, U.S. Constitution.
Running without authority, running just on audacity, Duncan said, “While standards and tests may not match up perfectly yet, backing away entirely from accountability and transparency is not good for students, parents, schools and districts.”
Accountability and transparency to whom?
States and localities are in no way to be “held accountable” to the federal government for local educational decisions. We have always been and still ought to be sovereign states; we are a Republic of Republics.
We are accountable only to our local governance structures, and primarily to the parents of the children. This is why parents are increasingly opting their children out of common core tests. And so should states.
Remember this: Duncan lacks the authority. He only has the audacity. And Congress is letting him run amok with our tax money. Congress needs to reel him in, as Paul Horton and Chuck Grassley and so many others have been declaring.
So, here’s Duncan’s statement:
“A request from California to not measure the achievement of millions of students this year is not something we could approve in good conscience. Raising standards to better prepare students for college and careers is absolutely the right thing to do, but letting an entire school year pass for millions of students without sharing information on their schools’ performance with them and their families is the wrong way to go about this transition. No one wants to over-test, but if you are going to support all students’ achievement, you need to know how all students are doing. If California moves forward with a plan that fails to assess all its students, as required by federal law, the Department will be forced to take action, which could include withholding funds from the state.
“In states like California that will be field-testing more sophisticated and useful assessments this school year, the Department has offered flexibility to allow each student to take their state’s current assessment in English language arts and math or the new field tests in those subjects. That’s a thoughtful approach as states are transitioning to new standards. While standards and tests may not match up perfectly yet, backing away entirely from accountability and transparency is not good for students, parents, schools and districts.</em
And here’s California Superintendent Torklason’s response:
“Our goals for 21st century learning, and the road ahead, are clear. We won’t reach them by continuing to look in the rear-view mirror with outdated tests, no matter how it sits with officials in Washington”
I wish Torklason would have fully condemned the Common Core tests and his state’s alignment to these experimental standards entirely. But at least he told Washington to go bark up someone else’s tree. Sort of.