Archive for the ‘Arne Duncan, Common Core and the Witchery of Wordplay’ Category

Why U.S. Education Needs the U.S. Constitution Now   3 comments

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Phillip Hamburger, law professor at Columbia Law School, gave a moving speech at Hillsdale College about the Constitution, also published in Imprimis this year.  It laid out more clearly than I’d seen it before, exactly how the U.S. has strayed from our Constitution, and how it’s endangering us.  His speech was titled, “The History and Danger of Administrative Law”.

Professor Hamburger made no allusion to education reforms, yet he wonderfully, as a bonus, happened to explain the foundational problem of the Common Core Initiative: that the governance system of Common Core is unrepresentative, unconstitutional and dangerous.  Here’s how.

Hamburger explained that administrative law revives something that the Constitution barred:  prerogative, or absolute power.  He wrote: “Administrative law is commonly defended as a new sort of power, a product of the 19th and the 20th centuries that developed to deal with the problems of modern society in all its complexity… What I will suggest, in contrast, is that administrative power is actually very old.”

Old is right.  Throughout history, countless generations suffered because others have wielded power over their lives.  The whole purpose of the suffering and sacrifices of American pilgrims and pioneers was to escape unbalanced, top-down, often cruel, power.  The success and freedom of the USA stemmed from the Constitution’s restraining of human power over other humans, and its strict limitation of its own government, and its checking and spreading of power, in order to avoid the cycle of oppression that the founders fled.  The Constitution gives no lawmaking power to anyone but Congress.

Hamburger said, “Put simply, administrative acts are binding or constraining edicts that come, not through law, but through other
mechanisms or pathways…In a way we can think of administrative law as a form of off-road driving… For those in the driver’s seat, this can be quite exhilarating. For the rest of us, it’s a little unnerving.

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Reading this, I thought about Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who drove off-road when he made regulations and policy changes to what Congress had long ago created in the privacy-protecting federal FERPA laws, so that he could meet his education data mining goals, which included (as outlined in his cooperative agreements* with state testing consortia) the sharing of “student-level data” –subject to law. Duncan had to alter that law. He shredded the previously protective FERPA when he made those regulatory changes.   The Electronic Privacy Information Center sued him for it.  But Duncan got away with it.  Case dismissed.

I also thought of Duncan’s waving of money in front of cash-strapped states, tempting/coercing states into adopting Common standards and assessments and database systems in exchange for money.  Off-road again.  No basis in Constitutionality, just in cash.

I also thought about  the little unauthorized onto-the-road drive taken by a little private club with a misleading name, the National Governors’ Association (NGA) which acts as if it were a legitimate voice for the people, as if it were Congress.  NGA created, promoted and copyrighted these national standards, (the Common Core) as well as partnering with CCSSO in making national data collection standards (CEDS).  The CCSSO and NGA hold no representational authority over education.  It’s a giant bluff, and would almost be laughable, but it’s not funny, because it damages America.

I also thought about the blurring of lines of authority and power that happen with the creation of public-private-partnerships.  When NGA and its sister-club, the superintendents’ club, CCSSO, partnered with the federal government and with Bill Gates to create education policy, Common Core bypassed Congress in two ways: by federal overreach plus corporate overreach –into what ought to be the states’ voters’ decision making arena.

Here’s a screenshot, evidence that the federal government has partnered with the private club that copyrighted Common Core and created Common Data Standards:

ccsso eimac dept of ed ceds

Remember our Constitution.  It says that ALL legislative powers shall be vested in a Congress.  Congress is supposed to make the laws.  The Department of Education isn’t Congress. Neither is the National Governors’ Association, and neither is Bill Gates.  Their assumption of unauthorized power over education policy, rather than having voters, via their Congressional representatives, to determine how education goes, is a clear corruption.

So what about corruption? Who cares?

Here’s why we must care. Hamburger writes that administrative law is “essentially a reemergence of the absolute power practiced by pre-modern kings. Rather than a modern necessity, it is a latterday version of a recurring threat—a threat inherent in human nature and in the temptations of power.”

He reminds us: “Early Americans were very familiar with absolute power. They feared this extra-legal, supra-legal, and consolidated
power because they knew from English history that such power could
evade the law and override all legal rights… Americans established the Constitution to be the source of all government power and to bar any absolute power. Nonetheless, absolute power has come back to life.”

He goes on: “ over the past 120 years, Americans have reestablished the very sort of power that the Constitution most centrally forbade. Administrative law… binds Americans not through law but through other mechanisms—not through statutes but through regulations—and not through the decisions of courts but through other adjudications. It… requires judges to put aside their independent
judgment and defer to administrative power as if it were above the
law—which our judges do far more systematically than even the worst
of 17th century English judges. And it is consolidated in that it combines the three powers of government—legislative, executive, and judicial—in administrative agencies.”

He concludes:  “In sum, the conventional understanding of administrative law is utterly mistaken. It is wrong on the history and
oblivious to the danger. That danger is absolutism: extra-legal, supra-legal, and consolidated power. And the danger matters because administrative power revives this absolutism. The Constitution carefully barred this threat, but constitutional doctrine has
since legitimized this dangerous sort of power. It therefore is necessary to go back to basics…  We should demand rule through law and rule under law. Even more fundamentally, we need to reclaim the vocabulary of law: Rather than speak of administrative law, we should speak of administrative power—indeed, of absolute power...”

Read the rest here.

Thank you so much, Professor Hamburger.

imrs

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*Today, I noticed that the Cooperative Agreement between the Department of Education and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia link says “webpage not available.” But I had typed it into another post, not in full but at length, if you are interested, here.

Herbert’s Spending to Cement Utah to Common Core and Common Data Standards   Leave a comment

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The Governor’s new budget plan is making news this week, with most of the tax surplus money planned for Utah “education.” That’s the governor’s pipeline-based definition of education, not education as most of us would define it.  His “education funding” funds the state’s SLDS data-mining aligned programs made palatable to citizens and legislators under the branding of “education.”)

It’s tragic and ironic that the Governor has often said that Utah can get out of Common Core anytime we want to.  The Utah Attorney General validated that statement in his  report, saying that Utah’s Common Core doesn’t cede control to the federal government.  (See rebuttal to the report here.)

But how would Utah free herself now of Common Core?

We’ve decided to sign away, in ink made of the sweat and blood of taxpayers who earned the hundreds of millions— any real possibility of withdrawal from the Common Core.

How would Utah ever get out of Common Core after recreating our whole education system based on the experiment of Common Core and Common Data aligned technologies and tests?  (Not only that– we are now leading others along:  Utah now gains millions by selling our Common Core test questions to other states, making them dependent on us for their own Common Core assessments.)

How foolish are we, to keep investing and investing— in something that was built on a sandy, utterly experimental, and unconstitutional foundation from the start?

The Governor’s even planning to hike gas taxes to support his enthusiasm for the workforce-pipeline version of “education”.  The Deseret News reported that “The governor’s spending plan… puts pressure on lawmakers to look at a gas tax increase by calling for $94.2 million in sales taxes earmarked for transportation to instead be used for education.”  

The Utah Board of Education praised the governor this week: “The Board of Education is very pleased that the Governor recommends such a large investment in Utah’s public education and its children. Like the Governor, the Board of Education believes the best educational policy in Utah is made in Utah by Utahns.

Sadly, these are lies.  The funding decisions aren’t set up to bless children. The programs being funded just promote centralized–not local– control.

This week’s decision to spend more than has ever been spent before on “education” is almost entirely focused on Common Core and Common Data Standards-aligned technology.  These are D.C. based systems.

Aligning to these systems is not motivated by care for children.  Foremost it benefits the market; secondly, it benefits Sec. Duncan’s and the CCSSO’s unconstitutional programs and policies: it’s top-down, rather than local, accountability.

This is far from being policy being “made in Utah by Utahns.”  This is voter-unvetted policy being duplicated precisely from policies laid out by Obama, Arne Duncan, Bill Gates/Microsoft/Pearson Inc, CCSSO, Choice SolutionsUtrex, and the rest of the partnered organizations and corporations that profit deeply from Utah’s taxpayers’ gullibility and the same-ifying of Common Core (CCSS) education and Common Data (CEDS) education data systems.

Remember that Common Core/Common Ed Data  financier Bill Gates said: “We’ll only know that this effort has succeeded when the currriculum and tests are aligned to these standards …The Common Core …when the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well, and it will unleash a powerful market… For the first time, there will be a large, uniform base of customers“.

That “powerful market” and its “uniform base of customers” includes Utah’s clueless taxpayers and legislature.  Gates’ customer base is being funded by Governor Herbert to benefit the Utah Chamber of Commerce and the D.C. based, Gates-funded, private organizations behind Common Core.

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It was Gates who funded CCSSO, both the CCSSO’s  copyrighting of the Common Core and its creation of CEDS common data standards used in the State Interoperability Framework (SIF) that the federal government mandated for all states’ use in each SLDS “education” tracking database.

The Governor’s new budget gives:

“$500 million for the state’s public and higher education systems, bringing total state education spending to approximately $4 billion. The Governor recommends over $340 million in support of public education…Major investments include $10.7 million for the Utah Education Network (UEN) to connect schools by providing statewide technology  infrastructure. [This is the SLDS database.] An additional $56 million …provides funds for buildings or technology infrastructure to small school districts… The budget recommends $1.5 million for innovative approaches and collaboration for
college and career counseling and $2.4 million for the Utah Futures website.”

These  budgetary decisions do not educate.  They strengthen the tracking systems, the prediction systems, the control systems.

Do you see the tragic humor in these words from the governor’s budget?

Unlike those who want to micromanage the public education system from the state level, the Governor believes that the state should establish general policy goals and expected outcomes and allow local control in the specific methods of attaining those goals.

The opposite is happening.

Utah’s SLDS database, which was built to federal specs, using common data standards (CEDS) and an SIF national-interoperability framework, from which no Utah school district nor parent may opt any child out, does not allow any kind of “local control”.  Neither does funding “Utah Futures,” which calls itself the one-stop career and college readiness* website and which fulfils the Governor’s socialistic workforce focus that puts citizens in a cradle-to-workforce “P-20″ human capital pipeline, with central planning and far less personal freedom in education– just like China.

I wish our legislature were not afraid of offending those who accuse them of not funding “the needs of the children”–who give in and fund anything calling itself education.  Funding for UEN, Utah Futures, SLDS technologies and Common Core testing infrastructures is not meeting children’s needs. Shame on those who say that it is.

Shame on this foolish waste of hundreds of millions of vital tax money on the shackles of Common Core.

 

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*Career and college readiness, college-and-career-ready standards, and any other similar sounding word, means in the redefined langugage of the Department of Education, Common Core aligned.

Is Idaho’s Battle Over– Or Just Starting?   2 comments

In November 2013,  and again in June 2014,  Idaho Superintendent Tom Luna rejected offers to participate in moderated, formal debates concerning the pros and cons of Common Core.  He did participate in one panel debate, to a packed house.   But Luna’s unwillingness to participate in further open debate is remarkable because, beginning in 2011, Luna was president, top dog at the organization that co-created and co-copyrighted the Common Core:  Council of Chief State School Officers.  Nobody should have felt more vested.  This article, a response to a recent Idaho Statesman interview  with Luna, comes by request.  Thank you, Stephanie Zimmerman.

 

Is Idaho’s Common Core Battle Over– Or Just Starting?

 

By Stephanie Zimmerman, Idaho mom/writer at Idahoans For Local Education

 

In the Nov. 30th Statesman interview granted by Tom Luna, I was not surprised to read Luna’s responses to the following questions:

Is the battle over Idaho Core Standards over?  “It is definitely over in the education arena. And my experience has been so far that it is primarily over with the vast majority of parents, but it is not over politically.”

How big were the Idaho Legislature education committee hearings on Common Core standards?  “I think it was an eye-opener to a lot of legislators and even people around the state who tuned in and listened because I think you heard a lot of the concerns that were raised – that were then shown to be not true: whether it’s the data we collect, who developed the standards, who has control of the standards. I have yet to have one person who says they oppose the standards tell me which standard it is that they oppose … If we do nothing else in education over the next three or four years, but continue to teach every kid to these higher standards, then measure students with this better assessment, then that is going to have more impact on improving student achievement than anything that we can do.”

Where to begin…
Common Core is just now (in the past three months) being fully implemented in Idaho’s schools.  How can Mr. Luna possibly say the battle is over –when it hasn’t even had a chance to begin??  Nowhere in the country was Common Core fully, fairly or publicly vetted or debated in legislatures, with parents, or with educators before it was quietly imposed upon us.  Most educators and parents are still learning the full implications of the Common Core .   More and more teachers are stepping forward with their concerns about the way children are being treated. Meg Norris, Kathleen Jasper, David Cox, Savannah Kucerak Mercedes Schneider  and Kris Nielson  are just a few who have made waves nationally by speaking out against Common Core.  Polls show  that the more parents know about it the less they like it.
four pillars of ed takeover
As more parents, educators, and legislators take even just a few minutes to educate themselves by reading source documents (instead of simply believing the talking points we’ve all heard) about the data being collected, who developed the standards, and who has control of the standards, an ever-increasing number of Idahoans will become concerned about the loss of our local control over our kids’ education.
Common Core is about far more than simply singling out which standard we do or don’t like.  It’s the reform package as a whole that’s the problem; the standards, assessments, data collection, tiered licensure (yes, that’s Common Core, too), and the star ratings system (which make our schools sound like a motel chain).
I wouldn’t care if these are the best standards in the world; I still wouldn’t want them in Idaho because of the federal strings and mandates that come with them.
Tom Luna is a man who was essentially defeated by Common Core.  His extreme political unpopularity began with his 2011 push to pass Students Come First, a set of educational reforms for Idaho that weren’t even his or his department’s original idea but that came straight out of the national Common Core playbook , and that only got worse as more and more people realized the role this former president of the CCSSO played in selling out our children’s future.
So, this particular battle may be over for Mr. Luna – we all know he’s moved on to bigger, better things.  But for those of us in the trenches, we know this is far from over.  We will continue to fight for local control of our children’s education.
Unfortunately for Tom Luna, his legacy will ultimately end up as the man who sold Idaho’s children’s birthright for a mess of pottage.
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Stephanie Zimmerman, author of this post, stands second from the right in the photo below. 
Mom meme

Video: New York Forum on Taking Back Education from the Common Core Agendists   Leave a comment

This month in Wappingers Falls, New York, a panel presented concrete ideas for how to take back control of education from the federal government and from its corporate Common Core partners.

To these ideas, add the brilliant idea recently presented by Utah Dad Oak Norton.  View that here.

 

Missouri Common Core Test Use Altered by Restraining Order   4 comments

missouri

A judge has issued a restraining order in Missouri that says that Missouri is “restrained from making any payments in the form of membership fees to the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium… including but not limited to disbursements pursuant to “Invoice #1″ issued to the State.”  The restraining order is, at least temporarily, halting [some aspects of] Common Core SBAC tests in the state.

According to the Missouri Education Watchdog, “the Solicitor General, in arguing for the state defendant, argued that  if the fees were not paid, there would be no assessments available in Missouri schools this year at all.  This contradicts what an SBAC spokesperson said on the phone to legal counsel for the plaintiff when she said  that the membership fees are separate and distinct from the charge for using the assessments.  It also seems to contradict provisions of federal regulations that require the assessments developed by the consortia to be generally available to non-member states…  if other states were to withdraw their membership based on the same grounds, this would require a significant reorganization of the test supplier into a commercial venture as opposed to a testing consortia…  it would weaken the federal government’s requirement that states use the consortia tests in order to comply with federal regulation or waivers, because then the federal government would be granting a monopoly to a particular private company.

This ruling is a sign that the court sees some merit in the case, that SBAC may be an illegal interstate compact and thus the state’s membership in it should be null and void.

Update:  Missouri Education Watchdog has asked to make the following clarification/correction.  Here it is:

The TRO does not stop the state from implementing the SBAC test. It simply stops the state from paying any money to SBAC in the form of membership payments. The state will continue with its plans to administer the SBAC test in spring 2015, but the recently passed HB1490 prohibits the student scores from that test from being used in teacher evaluations or district accreditation determinations. They call it a “Pilot” test. The money we pay them would have to be classified as a purchase of SBAC… 

We were stuck in an odd situation where the company that serviced our previous test (we called it MAP) stopped providing that test in 2014 so continuing with that for another year while we develop new standards was not even an option. The legislature went for the easier temporary fix of allowing the state to use SBAC for our NCLB accountability while the new standards are being developed. They didn’t have the guts of KY to simply say we won’t be providing test data for a year. “

 

Duncan Distances Himself from San Diego Protesters   2 comments

Adding to the Breitbart report that many have already have seen is this report by Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who was present during this month’s Common Core promotional visit by Secretary of Education to California.  The U.S. Secretary of Education ignored parent protesters but spoke about his programs for implementing Common Core, including his aim to lengthen the school day and to extend each school year to year-round school.  Dr. Stotsky stands in the middle of San Diego protesters in this photo.

Sandra cropped

USDE Not Interested in Parents’ Perspective on Common Core

By Sandra Stotsky

 

While Professors R. James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky were on a 13-city speaking tour throughout California (joined by Ze’ev Wurman in Southern California) in November, a protest rally against Common Core by parents in San Diego took place.  What exactly were they protesting?  A speech by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, invited by the Council for Chief State School Officers for prime time at its 2014 Annual Policy Forum at the U.S. Grant Hotel.  The advanced description of his speech suggested that his talk was to center on ways to promote implementation of Common Core, such as by lengthening the school day and extending the school year to include summer as well as fall, winter, and spring. A few protesters wondered if parents would be given visiting rights.

 

While marching back and forth in front of the main door to the hotel, they asked the security guards to let Duncan, CCSSO officers, and the state superintendents in the audience know they were outside. No invitation to come in and listen to Duncan’s speech was forthcoming. The protesting parents outside the hotel were completely ignored by the CCSSO, Duncan, and the state superintendents listening to him, just as parents across the country have been ignored by them for five years. Not one public meeting with upset parents in any state by a US Department of Education official, a state board of education, a state commissioner or superintendent of education, a governor, a local board of education, or a local superintendent.

 

This is apparently the official federal policy toward the parents of the children in our public schools on whom the states have imposed the deeply flawed educational policies associated with Common Core: Keep them at a distance.

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Thank you, Dr. Stotsky.

This is a pattern. Recently, a federal agent from the Department of Education visited Salt Lake City.  Although Utahns Against Common Core organized a protest during this event  to call attention to the federal visit and to support Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch’s letter of rebuke of the Department of Education and its false assumption of authority, the Salt Lake City protest was, like the San Diego protest, completely ignored by the visiting federal agent.   (“Keep them at a distance.”)

Federal Secretary of Education: “To Phase Out the Authority of States”   37 comments

Have you seen the new regulations that just came out of the White House?

Americans who see these must run screaming to legislators for protection against the Department of Education.

The new regulations declare that Secretary Arne Duncan will amend ESEA to “phase out the authority of States to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards in order to satisfy ESEA accountability requirements. These amendments will permit, as a transitional measure, States that meet certain criteria to continue to administer alternate assessments… for a limited period of time.”

http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaViewRule?pubId=201410&RIN=1810-AB16

“Phasing out the authority of the states” has been precisely the point for every last one of Duncan’s promoted education reforms, from Common Core to Common Data Standards to State Longitudinal Database Systems to P-20 programs to Common Core Assessments to teacher and school evaluations.

It’s been the shared vision of non-governmental education reformers as well, from Marc Tucker to Michael Barber to Linda Darling Hammond to the Center for American Progress.

Utahns Against Common Core have been pointing out this phase-out of local authority for over two years. Others have been saying it for decades.

But fat cats (Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, School Improvement Network, Prosperity 2020, Education First, Pearson Inc., Microsoft) –each of whom wants to sell fat educational products to the fat, “uniform customer base of Common Core” (as Gates put it) will not listen, and will mock and scorn critics because they want to get fatter and fatter on the taxpayer’s dime.

Why does such a supposedly conservative state allow the educational authority of the state to be “phased out” –because of businesses’ greed and lack of care for our children?  Where are our children’s educational defenders when we need them?  Where is the action behind all the flag-waving speeches that we’ve heard, now, Governor Herbert, Education Advisor Pyfer, Senator Stephenson, Representative Powell?

Why doesn’t our Governor, our legislature, our state school board, lift a finger to fight for our Constitutional right to educational self governance?

I cannot understand the apathy and the complacency and the tolerance– even at the legislative level– of all reforms aligned to the Common Core.

Is it not tragically crazy that we, as a state, willingly allow liberties –guaranteed under the supreme law of the land– to slip so easily out of our lives?  We allow ourselves to be lied to by our leaders, who cradle these education reform lies in positive, appealing language, and only for one reason:  cash flow.   Not for our children, at all.

When will Utah, when will America, wake up to this devastation of liberty and education?

 

To Phase Out the Authority of States Screenshot

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