by Whitne Strain and Christel Swasey
Long ago, the horrific invading soldiers of Genghis Khan used children as shields. Seeing innocent children sandwiched between defenders and invaders, few defenders would continue a defense.
That image, from “The Miracle of Freedom: Seven Tipping Points that Saved the World” comes to mind as we watch the U.S. Secretary of Education’s recent war against what he sees as a noncompliant Washington State.
Washington State became a thorn in Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s side when the state refused to comply with the federal agenda that would tie teacher evaluations to students’ Common Core test scores.
Washington State’s leaders had listened to teachers and parents; they then stood up to the unconstitutional federal demands and just said no. They would not comply with the damaging policy of tying teacher evaluation to student scores.
The federal response was a punch in the face: Duncan stripped Washington of its waiver from ESEA (aka No Child Left Behind).
Why is that a punch in Washington State’s face? Losing the waiver means that Washington now will get reburied in the absurd, impossible NCLB mandates –and will lose funding.
Duncan not only punished Washington state; he especially punished the state’s neediest children.
According to the Washington Spokesman-Review, “Washington is the first state to lose control over federal dollars used to help students in the poorest schools. The result: Districts will be forced to set aside the $40 million they had been getting for those student services”.
We wonder: how does Duncan sleep at night?
Read his wordy, meaningless federal explanation letter here. It is so verbiose and devoid of goodness that we won’t quote a single word. But do read teacher Peter Greene’s clever and hilarious teacher’s translation of Duncan’s letter to Washington, it here — spot-on.
Here’s Greene’s conclusion:
“Washington got to ignore its violation of federal NCLB laws if they agreed to install Duncan’s own untried, untested, unproven, unsubstantiated but very specific prescriptions about how to use CCSS [Common Core] tests to evaluate teachers and principals… Duncan doesn’t just believe that CCSS [Common Core] test-based measures of teachers and principals are a good idea. He doesn’t just deny every stone on the mountain made out of evidence that he’s wrong. He has given CCSS test-based measurement the full weight of federal law.
So what will happen to Washington, and who will do it? Or will the legislators freak out and panic, installing Arne’s junk science system at the 11th hour to win back his Kingly affection? You can bet a few other states will be watching… “
Thank you, Mr. Greene. Yes, we are watching.
Utah parent Alyson Williams gave permission to share the following speech which she gave at last week’s Common Core informational meeting at the Utah State Capitol. Dozens of legislators as well as parents, teachers, students and school board members heard this speech.
I was reading recently about George Washington as a child. I’d heard the story of the cherry tree and his father, but there was another story with his mother that was new to me.
His mother had a prized peony bush. One day, with the sweetest of intentions, George picked some of the flowers and presented them to his mother. He was surprised when she was angry. Young Washington learned that actions taken with good intentions still have consequences.
I think there are those who brought Common Core to Utah with good intentions. But they seem to not understand that in making decisions that affect my children, they are in my garden, messing with my flowers.
In response to the complaints of Utah parents about the way Common Core came into our State, Board Member Dave Thomas wrote last week that we are “late to the party.”
I think that is like a policeman telling someone who’s house has been robbed that it’s their own fault because they weren’t home at the time of the theft.
The truth is I was home – but while I was watching the front door, the thieves snuck in the back door… and the the policeman is the one who gave them the key.
The Utah constitution gives authority to the State School Board to set academic standards. It does not say that they can outsource a role we entrusted to them to the National Governors Association who outsourced it to another group of so called experts. No meeting minutes, no public records, no obligation to even respond to the input of anyone who submitted it, including any input from our school board. As a parent and a taxpayer, this process cuts me out completely.
And now they’re surprised that I’m not pleased with the fistful of flowers they’ve shoved in my face. They only want to talk about how pretty the standards are.
When George Washington’s father learned about the flowers, he took the opportunity to help his son reflect on how his desire to be helpful didn’t change the fact that he’d done something he had no right to do.
There is no such thing in the Constitution as a council of governors or chief state school officers. Comparing best practices is one thing, but Governors working together to jointly address issues that affect the whole nation is not a legitimate alternative to Congress, our national representative body. If every state, or even most states have the same standards, we have de facto national standards. Those who brought Common Core to our nation, state-by-state, had no constitutional commission to do what they did. It’s a role they assigned themselves, and they did it in a way that circumvented constitutional representative processes.
So why am I talking to you, members of the legislature? I don’t want the legislature to act as a school board, or to set standards, but when the State executive branch or State school board act outside of their enumerated powers or try to delegate those powers to others who have no obligation to Utah voters, I think they should be held accountable. Isn’t that what the checks and balances of our Constitutional Republic are all about?
For me this is not only about my children’s education it’s about preserving the kind of constitutional government I hope they will inherit when they have children of their own.
According to our laws the role of the state is supposed to be secondary to that of parents, but as I’ve sought answers to my concerns in various meetings I’ve been dismissed, told I’m not an expert, been given Utah history lessons, and told that it’s a complicated issue in terms of the law. For me it is really simple: “These are my kids, it’s my garden! If you want to even get near my flowers you’d better come to the front door and ask!”
What a powerful, important speech. Thank you, Alyson Williams.
North Carolina’s Lt. Governor Dan Forest speaks out about why he wants the state to follow Indiana’s lead in taking a time out to study Common Core before implementing this untested, one size fits all nationalization of education.
Three cheers for Dan Forest.
This week, the vivacious president of the Alabama Federation of Republican Women spoke at the Wetumpka Tea Party meeting.
Here’s a video of the event.
“Would you like Obama in your child’s classroom? How about Bill Ayers?”
In a related forum, Alabamians United for Excellence in Education (AUEE) put out the following press release:
Sharon Sewell Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 334/324-0035
Donna Burrage Email: email@example.com Phone: 205/553-2888
CITIZENS TASK FORCE RESPONDS TO GOP HOUSE LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
Asks Alabama Legislature to Include Legislation that Returns K-12 Education to Parents
BIRMINGHAM, AL: A new citizens group, formed to return K-12 education to parents, responded quickly to the Alabama House Speaker’s press release about the legislative priorities of the Alabama Republican House members and specifically about the absence of a bill to protect Alabama values and states rights in education. The group, Alabamians United for Excellence in Education (AUEE), met on January 18th to discuss mutual concerns of how to protect Alabama children from becoming part of a national database, mandated by Common Core, and their curriculum being controlled by the federal government. The group feels that a bill to preserve state education sovereignty and to protect our children from becoming part of a national database and tracked without parental permission should be included as a top priority by the House.
Members of the citizens task force include parents, teachers, representatives from conservative organizations, and other concerned individuals who find that state’s rights and Alabama values are in jeopardy, and that Alabama has ceded its constitutional rights to decide what values and subjects our children study in schools.
Spokesperson and retired teacher Sharon Sewell, who served as a member of Alabama’s textbook committee, stated: “We support the House’s focus on protecting the constitutional rights of Alabama citizens, but we notice the absence of what we consider the top priority — preserving the constitutional rights of parents and the state to decide what values and subjects our children study in school. We are concerned about the transformational overhaul of K-12 now being implemented in our schools; and textbooks, which do not reflect Alabama values, are being aligned to Common Core. Our bill is the only bill under discussion that can return education decisions to Alabamians.”
Kathy Peterson, another member of this citizens task force, stated, “While I applaud the idea of the Speaker of the House appointing a ‘Commission on State Rights and Alabama Values’ to solicit input from the public, the meetings were not publicly advertised, so attendance was scarce.” Peterson stated she attended one meeting and commission members reported that the repeal of Common Core to return parental authority and local control was brought up at every meeting. “Therefore,” she stated, “I can’t understand why a bill to defund and repeal Common Core is not backed by the Speaker.”
Elois Zeanah, president of the Alabama Federation of Republican Women, stated: “I’m surprised that the Speaker did not choose to include repealing Common Core as a priority, especially since the school flexibility bill the Speaker cited does nothing to protect Alabama values, parental rights or state sovereignty in education. It’s urgent that the legislature withdraw from Common Core this year since Common Core will be fully implemented in 2014. We hope the House Caucus will add this goal to their priority list to protect Alabama citizens from the federal government.”
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Go, Fight, Win, Alabama!
I’m posting the bills from South Carolina, Indiana, and Missouri which have attempted to reclaim state educational decision-making for those states. I’m also posting the resolution unanimously passed by the Alabama Republican Women’s Federation, cosponsored by the Republican Women’s Federations from Delaware, Tennessee, Nebraska, etc.
So far, we have nothing like this in Utah, although at every political meeting I go to or hear about, the majority of citizens are extremely interested in getting our state free of Common Core.
Utah representatives, do you hear your constitutents?
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SOUTH CAROLINA S.604
South Carolina General Assembly
119th Session, 2011-2012
Download This Bill in Microsoft Word format
Sponsors: Senators Fair, Grooms, Bryant, Campsen, Bright and S. Martin
Introduced in the Senate on February 23, 2011
Summary: Common Core State Standards
2/23/2011 Senate Introduced and read first time (Senate Journal-page 19)
2/23/2011 Senate Referred to Committee on Education
A BILL TO AMEND ARTICLE 5, CHAPTER 1, TITLE 59 OF THE 1976 CODE, RELATING TO GENERAL PROVISIONS CONCERNING EDUCATION, BY ADDING SECTION 59-1-490 TO PROVIDE THAT THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS MAY NOT BE IMPOSED ON SOUTH CAROLINA.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Article 5, Chapter 1, Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
“Section 59-1-490. The State Board may not adopt and the State Department may not implement the Common Core State Standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Any actions taken to adopt or implement the Common Core State Standards as of the effective date of this section are void ab initio.”
SECTION 2. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
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INDIANA SENATE BILL No. 193
DIGEST OF INTRODUCED BILL
Citations Affected: IC 20-19-2-14.5.
Synopsis: Common core state educational standards. Provides that the state board of education may not adopt as standards for the state any common core educational standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Voids any action taken to adopt common core educational standards.
Effective: July 1, 2013.
January 7, 2013, read first time and referred to Committee on Education and Career Development.
First Regular Session 118th General Assembly (2013)
SENATE BILL No. 193
A BILL FOR AN ACT to amend the Indiana Code concerning education.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Indiana:
SOURCE: IC 20-19-2-14.5; (13)IN0193.1.1. –> SECTION 1. IC 20-19-2-14.5 IS ADDED TO THE INDIANA CODE AS A NEW SECTION TO READ AS FOLLOWS [EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2013]: Sec. 14.5. (a) As used in this section, “common core standards” refers to educational standards developed for kindergarten through grade 12 by the Common Core State Standards Initiative. (b) Notwithstanding section 14 of this chapter, the state board may not adopt as standards for the state or direct the department to implement any common core standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative. (c) After June 30, 2013, any action taken by the state board before July 1, 2013, to adopt common core standards as standards for the state is void.
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MISSOURI SENATE BILL 210
FIRST REGULAR SESSION
SENATE BILL NO. 210
97TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY
INTRODUCED BY SENATORS LAMPING AND NIEVES.
Read 1st time January 24, 2013, and ordered printed.
TERRY L. SPIELER, Secretary.
To amend chapter 161, RSMo, by adding thereto one new section relating to the
Common Core Standards Initiative.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Missouri, as follows:
Section A. Chapter 161, RSMo, is amended by adding thereto one new
2 section, to be known as section 161.855, to read as follows: 161.855.
Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary,
2 the state board of education and the department of elementary and
3 secondary education shall not implement the Common Core State
4 Standards developed by the Common Core Standards Initiative. Any
5 actions taken to adopt or implement the Common Core State Standards
6 as of the effective date of this section are void. Common Core State
7 Standards or any other statewide education standards shall not be
8 adopted or implemented without the approval of the general assembly.
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NATIONAL FEDERATION OF REPUBLICAN WOMEN RESOLUTION
Defeat National Standards for State Schools
Passed Unanimously at the NFRW36th Biennial Convention Kansas City, MO – October 1, 2011
WHEREAS, The national standards-based “Common Core State Standards” initiative is the centerpiece of the Obama’s Administration’s agenda to centralize education decisions at the federal level;
WHEREAS, The Obama Administration is using the same model to take over education as it used for healthcare by using national standards and boards of bureaucrats, whom the public didn’t elect and can’t fire or otherwise hold accountable;
WHEREAS, National standards remove authority from States over what is taught in the classroom and how it is tested;
WHEREAS, National standards undercut the principle of federalism on which our nation was founded;
WHEREAS, There is no constitutional or statutory authority for national standards, national curricula, or national assessments and in fact the federal government is expressly prohibited from endorsing or dictating state/local decisions about curricula; and
WHEREAS, The Obama Administration is attempting to evade constitutional and statutory prohibitions to move toward a nationalized public-school system by (1) funding to date more than $345 million for the development of national curriculum and test questions, (2) tying national standards to the Race to the Top charter schools initiative in the amount of $4.35 billion, (3) using the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) to pressure State Boards of Education to adopt national standards with the threat of losing Title 1 Funds if they do not, and (4) requesting Congress to include national standards as a requirement in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary School Act (No Child Left Behind);
BE IT RESOLVED, That the National Federation of Republican Women vote to encourage all State Federation Presidents to share information about national standards with their local clubs; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That State Federation Presidents ask their members to (1) contact their State Boards of Education members and request that they retain control over academic standards, curriculum, instruction and testing, (2) contact their Congress Members and request that they (i) protect the constitutional and statutory prohibitions against the federal government endorsing or dictating national standards, (ii) to refuse to tie national standards to any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, (iii) defund “Race to the Top” money, and (iv) prohibit any more federal funds for the Common Core State Standards Initiative, including funds to assessment and curriculum writing consortia, and (3) spread the word about the threat of a federal government takeover of education.
Submitted by: Alabama Federation of Republican Women
Elois Zeanah, President
Nebraska Federation of Republican Women, Delaware Federation of Republican Women, Wisconsin Federation of Republican Women, Georgia Federation of Republican Women, Tennessee Federation of Republican Women