I wrote grants for a living, for a little over a year. It wasn’t fun. And I don’t know all there is to know about grants. But I know a few things about grants that lots of people don’t.
1. Grants are not free money. Grantors have written agendas. Grants are legally binding contracts. If you receive grant money but do not obey the terms of the contract, you have to give it back. This is why it was a blessing to Utah that we didn’t get any money from the Race to the Top application when we joined Common Core. We can sever ties with Common Core and lose nothing.
2. Grants are like algebra. You have to define terms (sometimes outside of the grant document itself) and solve for sections of the grant, and then plug in what those terms mean in other places. For example, if you read “Program Officer” in the example below, you have to think, “U.S. Department of Education,” each time you read it. If you read “Project Director,” you have to think, “Utah,” since Utah’s in the SBAC, and the SBAC’s project manager is WestEd, and WestEd is the test writer/grant recipient. Connect the dots.
The funny thing is, the word “Utah” never even appears anywhere in the Cooperative Agreement document. But Utah has given over her rights to the SBAC’s fiscal agent, Washington State. So anything Washington State agrees to, concerning the national assessments, Utah must live by. That’s what consortium consensus means, folks.
One grant’s rules affect another’s, even if they don’t both say the same things. So even though Utah won no grant money in one first Race to the Top application, Utah’s agent did win money in the other Race to the Top assessments application. So Utah has to obey the rules of that grant– unless we choose to be free of all of this. Which we still can if our leaders would take action.
Let’s look at the Cooperative Agreement, line by line, and translate what it means. (My comments are in bold)
COOPERATIVE AGREEMENT Between the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION and the SMARTER BALANCED ASSESSMENT CONSORTIUM and the STATE OF WASHINGTON (fiscal agent)
Date: January 7, 2011. PR/Award #: S395B100003 and S395B100003A
In accordance with 34 CFR 75.200(b)(4), this award is a cooperative agreement because the Secretary of Education (Secretary) has determined that substantial communication, coordination, and involvement between the U.S. Department of Education (Department or ED) and the recipient is necessary to carry out a successful project. Consistent with 34 CFR 75.234(b), the terms and conditions identified in this cooperative agreement set out the explicit character and extent of the anticipated collaboration between ED and the award recipient.
“In accordance with 34 CFR 75… “ blah blah blah– this tries to sound like it’s referring to a law, but if you google that blah blah blah part, it’s just a grant application. It’s money. So it’s claiming authority “By the authority of money, not of law” –that’s is what the U.S. Dept of Ed. is saying.
“this award is a cooperative agreement because the Secretary of Education (Secretary) has determined” –Did you catch that? One man, Arne Duncan, a huge proponent of Common Core, a buddy of Obama, an enemy to states’ sovereignty (check out what he says about Texas and South Carolina for not wanting to be part of the Common Core)– this one man, alone, takes authority –which he doesn’t have Constitutionally– but by the authority of money, he makes these legal-sounding demands and intrusions to affect over 90% of every U.S. child concerning privacy issues, data collection and educational testing and standards.
“(Secretary) has determined that substantial communication, coordination, and involvement between the U.S. Department of Education (Department or ED) and the recipient is necessary” Here’s where it really gets intrusive. Compare the words “communication, coordination, and involvement” with the words in the General Educational Provisions act and other laws.
ESEA does not authorize any federal official to “mandate, direct, or control” the content taught in local schools.
The General Education Provisions Act of 1970 says that “no provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize” any federal agency or official “to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction” or selection of “instructional materials” by “any educational institution or school system.”
The law establishing the Education Department forbids it from exercising “any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum” or “program of instruction” of any school or school system. Interesting. But there’s much more!
(Read Part II )