Nothing real supports the outrageous, increasing, ongoing federal overtake of schools. Federal bluffing and federal pretense to education authority continues because it is upheld by the stupored, undefending millions of us who aren’t aware of our right to control education locally –and who do not defend it.
Two federal overtake moves stand out in my mind today as heart-stoppingly wrong. These are things that we should firmly, loudly oppose.
- The first is Secretary Arne Duncan’s mandatory preschool. In his “Statement for the Record” to Congress concerning the new education budget request, Duncan lay aside the former practice of calling federal preschool voluntary. In this recent (April 29, 2014) speech, Duncan called for mandatory preschool: “The third major priority in the 2015 request is to continue the President’s commitment to expanding educational opportunity for millions of children through a $75 billion mandatory Preschool for All program…” he said.
- The other is the Department of Education’s principals’ re-education program, aka “Principal Ambassador Fellowship” (PAF). Do you like the idea of federally-approved-and-groomed, model “Fellowship” principals, teaching your local principal how to “engage with” federal policies? Me neither.
From the Department of Education’s site, learn why the PAF program exists: —“principals should have meaningful opportunities to both contribute to and understand the [federal] policies” —“to implement needed reforms, all stakeholders… must understand the intent of [federal] policy…” —“PAF’s will spend time gaining greater knowledge of the content of key federal programs and policies…” — “Principal Ambassador Fellows (PAF) are hired.. to facilitate cooperation between the Federal Government and the non-Federal entity…”
The Department of Education Secretary said, on the very same page where he announced the PAF program, that “The best ideas in education will never come from me or anyone else in Washington, D.C. They’re always going to come from a local level.” Yet principals are also told to understand and engage with federal policies. Such doublespeak. It is pretty unlikely that principals lack or need “greater knowledge” of the federal agenda. Given the increasing number of examples of defenders, notably schools like Maesar Prep in Utah, superintendents like Joseph Rella in New York, or the example of the state of Washington, which recently refused to tie teacher evaluation to Common Core student testing and got punished by Arne Duncan’s yanking of the state’s NCLB waiver– given these examples, it is more likely that principals are showing signs of resistance to the federal standardizations being shoved down their throats. Good for them.