Archive for the ‘Constitutional freedom’ Tag

Why I’m For Ted Cruz   16 comments

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I’m with Ted.

To see the real contest between Ted and Trump, compare something other than what the news outlets permit you to see.  Start with the Cruz and Trump official websites.  Note the way that they speak about (or if they even mention at all) education, family, the Constitution, and religious liberty.  Compare the clarity and substance of their points.  Compare their histories of real action versus talk.

To me, there is no real contest after you do this.

The only thing I sincerely like about Trump is his slogan:  “Make America Great Again”.

I wonder: how, precisely, would Trump do that –without having outlined steps to actively uphold religious freedom, educational freedom, the First Amendment, religious liberty, and the family as the central unit of society, traditionally defined?  On these issues –my issues– Trump seems stumped.

Cruz has real, defined solutions based on foundational principles, but Trump has not.  What Trump has is hot air, angry bravado, a memorable slogan, and a nifty hat.

In researching which candidate upholds my priorities, I first took a look at Cruz’s and Trump’s official websites:

On Trump’s site, you see a lot of stuff for sale and you see narcissistic campaign articles about the Trump movement itself.  You don’t learn anything substantive.  There’s no mention of my priorities on his site.  That scares me.  Trump’s “issues” page only lists:

 

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On Cruz’ site, however, the “issues” page mentions all three of my top issues.  His list is:

The Cruz website focuses on principles and gives information about how Cruz has taken action on those principles, such as the vital detail of why religious freedom is so important.  The site says:

  • “America was founded on a revolutionary idea. Our rights do not come from government. They come from God. 
  • Ted has spent his career defending religious liberty. He has fought to protect our First Amendment rights in a number of Supreme Court cases, and as U.S. Senator, he has been a tireless fighter for the right to freely live according to our faith.
  • As a presidential candidate, Ted Cruz has hosted two national religious liberties rallies and has brought together Christians who have been persecuted for their beliefs so that people across the country can listen to their stories and stand united for our first freedom.
  • On day one, a President Cruz will instruct the Department of Justice, the IRS, and every other federal agency that the persecution of religious liberty ends today.”

Aside from the websites, think about their histories.  I especially like the story of Cruz, as Texas Solicitor General in 2005, who stood up to and beat the combined forces of murderer-rapist Jose Medellin plus the U.S. federal government plus the U.N. “International Court”. The U.S. and U.N. courts attempted to side with Medellin, who had raped and killed two Texas teenagers as part of a gang initiation.  The U.S./U.N. courts argued that although Medellin was guilty, Medellin should not be tried by Texas, but by Mexico.  Cruz won the case for Texas.  The murderer-rapist, Medellin, was executed.

Trump has what history?  He has made money, despite a lot of bankruptcies, and he had a reality show that a lot of people watched.  And?

This is not a high school popularity contest.  Choosing the wrong candidate can have devastating, even deadly, consequences.

As Mitt Romney pointed out this week,  “Trump’s bombast is already alarming our allies and fueling the enmity of our enemies… What he said on “60 Minutes,” about Syria and ISIS, has to go down as the most ridiculous and dangerous idea of the campaign season… This is recklessness in the extreme. Donald Trump lacks the temperament to be president. …[He] mocked a disabled reporter… attributed a reporter’s questions to her menstrual cycle… mocked a brilliant rival who happened to be a woman, due to her appearance… bragged about his marital affairs, and who laces his public speeches with vulgarity…. Mr. Trump is directing our anger for less than noble purposes… He calls for the use of torture and for killing the innocent children and family members of terrorists. He cheers assaults on protesters. He applauds the prospect of twisting the Constitution to limit first amendment freedom of the press. This is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss.”

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The anger that Trump displays, which so many Americans feel, does not suddenly translate into a reversal of those things that make us mad.  Anger is not enough.  We need a president with substantive, defined plans; with honest, noble character; with a proven track record of dedication to honorable and Constitutional principles.  That is not Donald Trump, nor Hillary Clinton, nor Bernie Sanders.  The best available embodiment of noble aims and history is Ted Cruz.

Finally, what about Common Core?

Ted Cruz has a simple, excellent plan that moves us in the right direction, called Five for Freedom.  It calls for elimination of unconstitutional agencies, including eliminating the federal Department of Education.  Trump, on the other hand, makes no mention of education on his website.

It was a year ago that Ted Cruz tweeted:  “Federal government has no business sticking its nose in education. We need to repeal every word of Common Core.

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Nowadays, all the Republican candidates are suddently posturing as if they are opposed to Common Core.  How convenient for them, now that Common Core has become a byword.

About five minutes ago, when Trump seemed to realize that millions of grassroots Americans won’t vote for anyone who admits they’re working with, or cashing in on, the common core/common data alignment monopoly, he started making statements like “We’re cutting Common Core!” That statement elicits cheers.  But Trump does not demonstrate understanding of how deep and  penetrating the unwanted, common alignment of all things educational has grown, nor how sobering and difficult a task it will be to untangle it and retrieve freedom.

Know, too, that paid  Common Core endorsers are top Trump endorsers.)

See through this.   Trump got on the anti-Common Core, #StopFedEd bandwagon recently (in his speeches, but still not on his website).  John Kasich started pretending to have fought against Common Core.  (Look at Kasich’s track record.) And Marco Rubio?  He’s unfortunately been confused or lukewarm on freedom in education, for years.  Cruz has been with us all along.

When Senator Mike Lee endorsed Ted Cruz, he explained in a New York Times interview why Trump was not his pick: “Mr. Lee… said he worried about [Trump’s] policy positions and views on presidential power. ‘I’m still waiting to hear more detail from Donald Trump on where he stands on a whole host of issues,’ Mr. Lee said.”

We are all waiting for that.  Where does Trump stand on common, aligned education standards when they alter their names?  What about the common, aligned data standards?  Where does Trump stand on privacy rights?  Where does he stand on family rights?  The right to life?  Marriage or adoption of children by homosexuals?  The restoration of the Constitution?  Where does he stand on the Federal Reserve?  Where does he stand on religious freedom?  His silence is deafening on vital issues, yet he rants like a drunken sailor about making America great again.  That is not meaningful to me.

Cruz is not perfect.  He has said things that I don’t competely agree with.  But I don’t completely agree with my own dear husband, all of the time.  And that is okay.  Cruz is not a danger to our nation; Trump is.  So are (of course) Hillary and Bernie.

Trump seems almost a typecast for a dictatorship, a drunken one.  I can’t resist sharing a video that uses Trump audio clips with a lip-synching actor; you’ll either laugh or want to cry.   I know it’s immature, but it’s so darn poignant.

 

Please recall that last summer, a report card posted by Pulse 2016 and American Principles Project graded presidential candidates on their actions in getting rid of Common Core.

The only person who had an “A” then, who is still in the campaign, is Ted Cruz.  Take a look at the grades and the criteria.  It’s very telling.

Although I have a Cruz bumper sticker on my minivan and although I cheerlead for Ted Cruz on Facebook, I hadn’t, until recently, felt that making a specific Ted Cruz blog endorsement would be valuable.  It felt like it would be preaching to the choir. I guess I’m naiive enough to have believed that people would see what I have seen, in comparing Trump and Cruz. I thought that the “pro-freedom-in-education” gang all agreed that it’s only been Ted Cruz who has consistently, and with more than a five-minute history, been outspoken against Common Core and the top-down suffocation of local control in every aspect of education.

It seemed like the most obvious thing in the world, to me, that Cruz was the best choice.  But I was wrong about the obvious part.  Some of my friends and family members are “yuge” Trump fans.  They say that he’s strong.  They say that he’s refreshingly blunt and politically incorrect.  They say that he’s so rich that he doesn’t have to be beholden to lobbyists, the way all the other candidates on both left and right supposedly must.  They say that he’ll intimidate our enemies.  Tempting thoughts, all.

But I agree with what Gina Dalfonzo wrote, in an article for First Things entitled “Nikabrik’s Candidate” –that there’s a desperation, similar to the oppressed people in C.S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian– in the desperation of Trump supporters.  Dalfonzo wrote:

“How could… the good guys in this story become corrupt enough to seek help from someone whose greed, brutality, and lust for power were legendary?

“…Nikabrik’s fears are legitimate. His enemies are real and powerful… He is right to recognize the need for help. He is wrong to decide that help must come from a force equally merciless—wrong when he tells Caspian, ‘I’ll believe in anyone or anything . . . that’ll batter these cursed Telmarine barbarians to pieces or drive them out of Narnia. Anyone or anything, Aslan or the White Witch, do you understand?’

“This is how good people with strong, ingrained values—people who have invested time and money in the sanctity of life, religious liberty, and similarly noble causes— …end up flocking to a reality-show star who spends his days on Twitter calling people ‘dumb’ and ‘loser.’ This is how some who have professed faith in Jesus Christ are lured by a man who openly puts all his faith in power and money, the very things Christ warned us against prizing too highly. As one wag on Twitter pointed out, “If elected, Donald Trump will be the first US president to own a strip club,” and yet he has the support of Christians who fervently believe that this country needs to clean up its morals.

“…Tired of waiting for Aslan—who may be nearer than we think—we turn elsewhere. It doesn’t matter if our candidate hates, bullies, and exploits other people, the reasoning goes… Hatred is a perfectly acceptable weapon, as long as it’s ‘on our side.’”

Are Trump supporters like Nikabrik in Prince Caspian, desperate for anything and anyone to defend them, even if that defender is evil?  Have Americans forsaken the principles that really did make America great?  Do Americans want Trump– regardless of his character, and regardless of the intended or unintended results that will come from unfettered rage and mannerlessness?  Is something as transitory as anger the prerequisite to good leadership?  Does blunt anger “trump” all other qualities?  What lasting good can come from following such a man?

My church teaches that “honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold” because “when the wicked rule the people mourn”; also, that we must “befriend” the “constitutional law of the land”(Doctrine and Covenants 98: 6-10).  It doesn’t say to seek or uphold perfect candidates; there aren’t any.  It says to find the most honest, the most good, the one most seeming to befriend the Constitution.

By that, I choose Cruz.

 

HELP! The Miracle Got UnMiracled: HB164, voted down, is up for another vote. #PARENTALRIGHTS   12 comments

I was just going to the Utahns Against Common Core Facebook Page to share my “Thank You” letter with my friends. (I’d written a letter to thank the representatives who had voted no on HB164, the bill that would cause any child to fail a class whose parents opted him/her out of the SAGE/AIR (invalidated, common core, federally aligned tests).

But when I got to that Facebook page, my friend Wendell had posted a link to a new version of HB164.

The monster is back.

I don’t understand how!

I don’t understand how an ugly, evil, unconstitutional bill like HB164, after having attracted a packed room of angry parents last week, and after having been voted down by a vote of the legislative committee, can now be back for another vote.

I pray those nay-voting  legislators will see lines 76-79 and will say, “No. I still do not like Green Eggs And Ham!”

But who knows?

Who’s being manipulated, threatened, or bribed at the legislative level– and by whom?

Who knows?  There’s no investigative reporting being done in Utah by any newspaper on the subject of education industry corruption, or the education industry’s machinations at the Utah State Office of Education.

There should be. The education sales industry is one of the biggest, most money-making industries in the world.  And Utahns are probably the most trusting, gullible, and least fact-checking groups of people on earth.

The facts are stacked against the trusting little guy.

The governor of Utah is the president of the National Governors’ Association, the group that co-created and copyrighted the Common Core and co-promoted the Common Educational Data Standards  movement.  To deliver that product, Utah’s Governor Herbert himself created Prosperity 2020, a movement that aligned Utah businesses and chambers of commerce with the common core and common data mining projects now in pre-K-12 and higher ed.

From Governor Herbert’s point of view– and especially in an election year, when his opponent, Jonathan Johnson of Overstock, is openly fighting Common Core and common data mining projects– while Gov. Herbert’s supporters, the Chambers of Commerce, etc., are making so much money on this monstrosity (at the expense of real, good education and student privacy, of course)– from that point of view, HB164 HAS TO PASS.

It has to pass, for the monster to live.

If it doesn’t pass, then that lynchpin of power and control doesn’t get settled in to take over; if people can opt out of the data collection tests, then the data isn’t usable, and the whole monster feeds on data, data, and more data.  Nonconsensually gathered, private, individually-custom built, student longitudinal data.  The State Longitudinal Database System is the mechanism.  Schools feed it every day.

If the testing opt-out movement seriously catches on fire here in our state, then SO MANY ENTITIES LOSE MONEY AND POWER.  Governor Herbert is one.  The Chambers of Commerce are another.  School Improvement Network is another.

Even the federal government will be hit hard, if enough parents and students opt out, since federal ESSA, passed last December, calls for 95% of all students taking the same federally aligned tests and giving up that student data for “user profiling” of all citizens.

The same God who put children first in His heart and in his kingdom said that you cannot serve God and mammon. In this state, a supposedly religious state, it is sad to say that there is a tremendous amount of top-level USOE and Chamber of Commerce hypocrisy going on.

Children are being put last. Money is being put first.

Ironically, and evilly, the money is being made under the banner of making children’s lives better.  That’s all Prosperity 2020 ever talks about– the future of the economy, for the children.

But tell me this: how does any of this bless a child, when a child is, under HB164, forced to take a test and is forced to expose his or her private data in a user profile that in no way blesses him or her, but benefits the central planners?

Is it right?  Children, forced to take a test, despite parental reservations.  Forced to take a test, despite the fact that the test has never been validated.  Forced to take a test, despite the fact that the standards upon which the test rests, are experimental and are far from the time-tested, classic standards for real education that their parents knew.

Forced.  Forced.  Forced.

Think about this.

If HB164 passes,  when that now-much-smaller group of non-test takers actually fails classes, when the first group of normally A+ children fail full grades in school –because their parents stood up, using their consciences and Constitutional freedoms, against this monstrosity, because that will happen—how will Governor Herbert look into our eyes and shake our hands at the local Rodeo?

How?

Inspiration From Houston’s #AboutTheChild Conference   Leave a comment

At the #AboutTheChild conference in Houston last week, B&L Network speakers said that even in the middle of a struggle we might seem to be losing, we have great power and great hope.

Although America is seeing dangerous shifts in who can and who cannot amend tests, in who controls (and does not protect) children’s data;  in who gets to redefine even babies’ “educations” as a collective-economy-purposed thing; while we see corporate and federal “central planners” ram initiatives without a vote to assume “stakeholder” rights over our little ones– even in this awful situation, we can defend children’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happy education; that is, time-tested, soul-enlarging, non-Common Core education.

I cannot do the conference justice briefly, yet I want to try. A few moments that stood out came from these speeches:

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1          Troy Towns, an Alabama minister and political activist, spoke about the numbers of people who should be actively involved in the fight against Common Core and other false reforms.  He retold the story of Gideon in the Old Testament.  Not only did it not bother the Lord that Gideon was vastly outnumbered; the Lord told Gideon to reduce his numbers, by sending away all warriors who were fearful.  Then the Lord instructed Gideon further, to send away all those who were not alert to the enemy while drinking at the stream.  Reduced to 300 people, surrounded by countless armies, the Lord then led Gideon’s group to victory…  It’s not about numbers.  It’s not about who appears to be winning in the moment.  It is about who is on the side of true and honorable principles.

 

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2.         Daisy Whisenant, Texas advisor in the Christian Educators Association International, a Christian teacher’s union,  implored listeners to let teachers and students know the truth about “separation between Church and State”.  That idea is designed to prevent governments from promoting one religion above another, while upholding all religions’ freedom of speech.  It is not designed to shut down religious discussions.  A teacher is a government employee, but a child is not.  Nongovernmental citizens (students of all ages) may speak and write freely about their religious beliefs.   For more information, visit CEAI.

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3.      Jason Hoyt, Florida radio personality and author, discussed what “Consent of the Governed” means.  The concept is also the title of his book.  (Click here to find the book Consent of the Governed. )  I read it on my trip home. It teaches the history of local, state, and federal grand juries, and outlines the disintegration of that constitutional authority, which serves –or should serve– as a fourth branch and a check on the other three branches.  The book shows that if “We the People” reclaim proper controls of our grand juries, we can reclaim vital, lost political power –more effectively than if we rely only on elections as the means to enforce fair government.

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4.      Angelique Clark, a Las Vegas high school student, spoke about the stand she took and the fight that ensued as she founded a pro-life group for teen activists.  When her application for a high school pro-life club was denied, Angelique fought for her First Amendment rights inside a school, with a lawsuit to the school district that finally allowed her to form the pro-life club.  She won.  Her story has been seen on Fox & Friends, On the Record with Greta, Fox, Bill O’Reilly, and elsewhere.

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5.      Dr. Karen Effrem, a pediatrician, author and researcher, a leader of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition and of Education Liberty Watch, spoke about the amount of data being collected on every public school student in the nation without parental knowledge or consent; about the psychological and belief data-gathering goals outlined in the US Department of Education’s “Developing Grit, Tenacity and Persistance” Report; about the unfortunate, newly passed, Every Student Succeeds Act; and about the monster on the horizon, the “Strengthening Education Through Research Act“.  Her presentation should be seen by every member of the U.S. Congress.

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6.     Dr. Peg Luksik, a former reform evaluator for the U.S. Department of Education, a lifelong teacher, speaker, and honoree by multiple U.S. Presidents, spoke about the idea of common standards.  She asked the audience if there was such a thing as good standards, and answered her question:  no.  There is no such thing as a good set of standards because every child is so different.  She has a child who is a math genius, who cannot do ballet.  She has a daughter who is a ballet genius, who cannot do math.  She asked:  where would the proper, common standard be for those two children?  The idea of top-down decision making for teachers and students is ridiculous.  She said that years ago, “Outcome Based Education” was pushed on the nation, and was defeated by a handful of level-headed patriots.  Common Core and its related initiatives are the same thing, repackaged.  Those who would be central planners of all children’s lives must be defeated again.

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7.      Dr. Duke Pesta, an energetic literature professor and administrator at Freedom Project Academy, spoke about the devious history of the Common Core Initiative, up to its promoters’ most recent coup against liberty, the Every Student Succeeds Act.  He emphasized the words of Arne Duncan about the Every Student Succeeds Act, and pointed out that even trusted Republican leadership betrayed liberty with ESSA. We must be smarter and faster in overturning the deceptions of this fight.  (FYI, Utahns: rumor has it that Dr. Pesta will be speaking in Utah this April.)

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8.      Neil Mammen, a minister and activist at NoBlindFaith.com (author of 40 Days to a More Godly Nation and Jesus Is Involved in Politics: Why Aren’t You?) echoed the message given by Troy Towns (about Gideon and the numbers-of-warriors issue, above) as he spoke about the St. Crispin’s Day speech from Henry V.  In the scene, when Westmoreland laments not having ten thousand more men to help them fight, the king responds:

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.   (Read the whole speech.)

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9.     Joan Landes,  a Utah therapist, crystallized the issue when she said that the problem with government initiatives like Common Core and its web of tests and controls is that it hurts human relationships.  Her presentation about reversing Saul Alinsky’s evil tactics, and her idea of asking every concerned citizen to spend five minutes or five dollars as often as they can, were truly remarkable.

I spoke, too.  The heart of my speech, “Reclaiming Parental Power” came from a realization I had a few nights before the conference, as I thought about the awful situation that is U.S. Education Reform today.  As I wondered how we can keep going in the face of losing, losing, and losing (Common Core is still here; Common Education Standards and Longitudinal Databases are still here; the ESSA federal law makes things so much less free; and SETRA may soon make them even worse) –I had a clear thought:  HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRADE PLACES WITH A MOM IN CHINA– or a mom in any socialist/communist nation, for that matter?  You would have no freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom to publish, freedom to work to repeal bad laws.  You hardly have freedom to think, in China.  A lover of freedom living in China, loving her children, would give her arms or legs to have the opportunity to face the problems that we face.  Arms and legs.

The glass will always be half full– never half empty–  as long as there is a person left in America who remembers the words and the spirit of the U.S. Constitution.

Freedom is always worth the fight.

Children will always be the reason.

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This blog post is a partial, inadequate sampling that has not included many additional, wonderful  speakers at the conference.  Every speaker (see biographies and speaker list here) –was moving.

If you missed the conference and the livestream, you can still watch it as part of a package deal with B&L*  Network by purchasing a B&L year membership here.  I’m advertising it because:

The conference speakers were an inspiration, and their words need to be heard far and wide, as do the messages from United States Parents In Education (USPIE) which held a press conference as part of this conference, rolling out a campaign to #StopFedEd.   Also, importantly, consider this: the conference organizer was Alabama homemaker and radio show host Diana Crews, who, with her sweet husband, a professional trucker, went into debt to make this conference happen.  If nobody  watches, she stays in debt.  This was her sacrifice because she believes in making this issue About The Child.  It’s not about the “global economy” or the “school to workforce pipeline” or about “human capital”.  It is about the child.

To support B&L, click here.

* (If you want to know what B & L stands for– and I asked, and was so glad I did– it’s Bears and Lord; as in, Mama & Papa Bears and their Lord).

 

 

 

Report on Jenni White’s Utah Speech   4 comments


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Jenni  White of Oklahoma’s Restore Oklahoma Public Education spoke  last night in Midvale, Utah, to a clapping, cheering, energized crowd that included two  legislators from the Utah House of Representatives, Kay Christofferson and LaVar Christiansen, both of whom stood and spoke after Jenni’s speech to voice their support.

Feisty, hilarious, sassy and smart, Jenni White’s presentation explained that she and her group have been working for many, many years (longer than the majority of us have in Utah) to stop Common Core.  The bills that were written there never got heard, or only made it through one committee hearing, year after year.  It took hard work and dogged persistence to work the miracle that Oklahoma finally saw this year.  Her speech was filmed and will be posted soon.  Here are highlights:

What Oklahoma moms did:

1.  They didn’t just work with one or two legislators.  They emailed all the legislators, every week, with short, vital pieces of information to help educate them about just what the Common Core Initiative has done to schools, to student privacy, to teacher autonomy, to the voice of parents, to the power of local control of education.

2.  They showed up by the hundreds during the legislative session, wearing the green Stop Common Core t-shirts, and made it impossible during rallies for legislators to walk down the halls without swerving around green t-shirted parents and teachers and students.  They would not be ignored or dismissed.

3.  They sent legislative baseball cards, stop common core cookie bouquets, postcards, notes, legislator memos, tweets, emails.

4.  They held a “Hear the Bills!” rally to persuade legislators to at least listen, to at least let this issue have a fair hearing.

5. They did photo ops with Governor Fallin, wearing the green t-shirts, even before she had decided to stand against Common Core.

6. They had meetings statewide, educating the public, asking the public to call their legislators and tell them they wanted Common Core to be repealed and replaced with better standards like Massachusetts had prior to the Common Core-ing of America.

7. They stuck together, not allowing infighting or small disagreements to break apart their coalition of parents, teachers and citizens who wanted Common Core to go away.

Since the Oklahoma miracle, some pro-Core advocates such as Fordham Institute’s Mike Petrelli, (a financial beneficiary of Bill Gates, of course) have tried to spin the Oklahoma miracle of repealing Common Core as a disaster, saying that Oklahoma teachers have no idea what to teach right now.

The indomitable Jenni White, rather than shrink under his arrogance and criticism, happily invited Petrelli to Oklahoma for an open debate and discussion on this subject.

Petrelli has accepted, according to his Twitter feed.

Thank you, Oklahoma!  We love you!

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Utah Mom Alyson Williams: The Common Core Standards That We Aren’t Talking About   15 comments

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Utah Mom Alyson Williams’ razor-sharp wit and use of unarguable facts makes the speech she gave at a Common Core debate (with State School Board member Dixie Allen and two professors) a powerful tool in the national Stop Common Core arsenal. Below are her prepared remarks. The event was filmed and will be posted soon.

6 few smashing highlights from the speech –words I’d like to slap up on websites and billboards and bumpers all over the country:

1 “There is no such thing in the U.S. Constitution as a council of governors… Allowing rules for education to be set by those with no authority to do so is not a high enough standard for me or my children.”

2 “The Department of Ed … set rules for education, in exchange for the money – rules that normally would be determined by the States themselves under the 10th Amendment.”

3 “The Utah Constitution … does not say that [the board] can outsource a role we entrusted to them to a non-governmental trade organization who outsourced it to another group of hand-picked experts. This is called “delegation” and it has been established in legal precedent to be unconstitutional.”

4 “Unelected officials gutting laws that were established by Congress to protect my family’s privacy is not a high enough standard for me and my children.”

5 “No meaningful public input on changes that affect all of our community schools is not a high enough standard for me and my children.”

6 “We can set high standards for math and English without circumventing, stretching, or ignoring the high standards for self government that have made our nation unique in all the history of the world.”

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THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS THAT WE AREN’T TALKING ABOUT

Guest post by Alyson Williams, Utah mom

We’ve heard that with Common Core we’re just setting higher standards for learning, right? Why would a mom who wants the very best for her children be against that?

We are a community with high standards for all kinds of things, not just education. Standards can be examples, expectations, models, patterns, or precedents to follow or measure oneself against.

Keeping those synonyms in mind I’d like to talk about the standards we’ve set for our children in the course of adopting the Common Core. You may be surprised to learn that we have set new standards not only for math and english, but also for how public education is governed.

At the beginning of Obama’s first term our Congress passed the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, also known as “the Stimulus” which included $100 Billion dollars for education. At the time major newspapers buzzed about the unprecedented power of assigning this much money to the discretion of the Education Secretary with virtually no congressional oversight. From the Stimulus came the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and the Race to the Top grant programs that enabled the Department of Ed to set rules for education, in exchange for the money – rules that normally would be determined by the States themselves under the 10th Ammendment.

This 36 page document, “The Road to a National Curriculum” was written by two former top lawyers for the US Department of Education. In it they offer an analysis of how these reforms violate three Federal laws. They conclude, “The Department has simply paid others to do that which it is forbidden to do.” (p.18)

Using taxpayer money from the stimulus to implement reforms that weaken the State’s autonomy over education is not a high enough standard for me and my children.

Proponents of these reforms like to point out that adopting these reforms was a legitimate exercise of state’s rights because the development of the standards was led by the Governors at the National Governors Association. The problem is, the Utah State Constitution does not grant authority over education to our Governor. Furthermore, there is no such thing in the U.S. Constitution as a council of governors. Comparing best practices is one thing, but Governors working together to jointly address issues and create rules that affect the whole nation is not a legitimate alternative to Congress, our national representative body. The organizations that introduced Common Core to our nation, state-by-state, had no constitutional commission to do what they did.

Allowing rules for education to be set by those with no authority to do so is not a high enough standard for me or my children.

The Governor didn’t decide on his own that Utah would adopt these reforms. The agreements were also signed by the State Superintendent acting in behalf of the State School Board. The Utah Constitution does give 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 a non-governmental trade organization who outsourced it to another group of hand-picked experts. This is called “delegation” and it has been established in legal precedent to be unconstitutional.

Elected officials delegating a job we entrusted to them to a body outside the jurisdiction of state oversight is not a high enough standard for me and my children.

The official USOE pamphlet on the Common Core adoption says that the State School Board “monitored this process.” But Dane Linn who was the education director for the NGA at the time the standards were being written stated, “All of the standards writing and discussions were sealed by confidentiality agreements, and held in private.” http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2013/06/07/five-people-wrote-state-led-common-core

There were no meeting minutes, no public records, no obligation by the lead writers 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.

As citizens of a self-governing Republic, this non-representative process is not a high enough standard for me and my children.

While this process was different than the way standards have been vetted in the past, the State School Board insists their involvement and review was adequate and that there was time for public input. The USOE published this timeline for adoption of the standards. Here it says that the summer of 2010 was the public comment period. However, the final draft was not available until June 2, and the Board took their first of two votes to adopt them two days later on June 4. The second and final vote was made a month later, but the first formally announced public comment period I could find was in April of 2012 – 22 months after the Board officially adopted the standards.

No meaningful public input on changes that affect all of our community schools is not a high enough standard for me and my children.

When the Department of Education ran out of grant money to get states to implement their reforms, they offered the states waivers from unpopular requirements of No Child Left Behind that many Utah schools were not anticipated to meet. While the No Child Left Behind law did grant limited authority to the Department of Education to waive certain conditions, it did not grant them authority to require new conditions in exchange.

apple poison

This increasingly common habit of the executive branch to waive laws and replace them with their own rules, as if they held the lawmaking authority assigned to Congress, is not an acceptable standard for me and my children.

This is not the only example of the Department of Education overstepping their authority. In order for States to collect the individual student data required by these reforms, the US Department of Ed altered the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) weakening the protection of parental control over sharing student data. Both the Electronic Privacy Information Center and Fordham University’s Center for Law and Information Policy have written briefs charging that the Education Department acted illegally.

Unelected officials gutting laws that were established by Congress to protect my family’s privacy is not a high enough standard for me and my children.

Ever since we started down the road of adopting Common Core, in fact, I’ve noticed a much greater influence over education by unelected special interests. In an article published in the Washington Post in May (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/05/12/gates-gives-150-million-in-grants-for-common-core-standards/), for example, it was estimated that the Gates Foundation has spent at least $150 million dollars to fund and promote Common Core.

A July 2010 BusinessWeek Coverstory on Bill Gates quotes Jack Jennings, director of the Center on Education Policy saying, “As a private entity that doesn’t answer to voters, Gates can back initiatives that are politically dicey for the Obama Administration, such as uniform standards … In the past, states’ rights advocates have blocked federal efforts for a national curriculum. Gates ‘was able to do something the federal government couldn’t do.” http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_30/b4188058281758.htm#p4

When one very rich man has a greater influence over the direction of public education than parents, teachers and local communities that sets an unacceptable standard for “we the people,” for me, and for my children.

What is the justification for pushing these reforms through, bypassing the checks and balances of our established legal framework? We have to do it we are told so that our children will be “career and college ready.”

The Govenor, on his webpage for education, says we need to implement these reforms to “align educational training to meet the workforce demands of the marketplace.” http://www.utah.gov/governor/priorities/education.html

To me, all of these workforce goals seem to imply that the highest aim of education is work. Historically, the purpose of American education was to nurture the development of self-governing citizens, with work being incidental to that development. This nation has uniquely thrived according to the principle that a free market with good people pursuing their own dreams works better than attempts at centrally regulated markets with efficiently trained workers.

Being an efficient employee in a job that matches a data profile collected by the state from cradle to career is not a high enough standard for education, not for my children.

Thomas Jefferson was an early proponent of publicly funded education. He saw literate citizens educated in history and principles of good government as a necessary condition of maintaining liberty. He said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

How tragically ironic if, in the very name of public education, we end up eroding those very safeguards of liberty that he championed.

My opposition to the way we’ve adopted Common Core (and the rest of the education reforms introduced in the Stimulus) is not just about the education of my children, it is about the type of government I hope my children will inherit when they have children of their own. I believe we can set high standards for math and English without circumventing, stretching, or ignoring the high standards for self government that have made our nation unique in all the history of the world. This is the Constitution of the United States of America. These standards ARE high enough for me, and my children.

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Brilliant. Thank you, Alyson Williams.

Heritage Foundation: Utah Will Be Remembered   Leave a comment

Utah Takes First Step in Regaining Control of Education

by Lindsey Burke

Reblogged from Heritage Foundation – August 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm

http://blog.heritage.org/2012/08/06/utah-takes-first-step-in-regaining-control-of-education/

When the fight for control over what is taught in American schools is won, Utah will be remembered for having fired the shot heard ’round the country’s classrooms and statehouses.

In a move that should inspire other state leaders concerned with the Obama Administration’s push to nationalize standards and tests through the Common Core State Standards Initiative, the Utah State Board of Education voted 12–3 to withdraw from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), the national testing consortium the state joined as part of the its agreement to adopt national standards.

While Utah still plans to implement the standards in the coming academic year, it will now choose from among various testing companies to measure the academic achievement of students, divesting the state from the federally funded testing consortium. As Washington’s overreach creeps further into the nation’s classrooms, Utah has wisely taken a step away from further federal intervention into its schools.

After the Berlin Wall fell in the late 1980s, central planning was all but discredited throughout the world. The exception, Representative Rob Bishop (R–UT) notes, was in Washington, D.C., “where every bureaucracy has, since that time, doubled down to insist that central planning be done out of Washington with one-size-fits-all solutions.” Indeed, the central planning mentality continues apace with the push for national standards and tests. As the Pacific Research Institute’s Lance Izumi points out:

The end result of President Barack Obama’s centralization schemes is loss of control by individual Americans. Under the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare, the Congressional Budget Office says that millions of workers will not be able to keep their current coverage. Under the president’s national standards-and-testing regime, individual parents will have less and less control over the education of their children and what takes place in the classroom.

Bishop argues that further centralizing education and nationalizing standards isn’t going to solve Utah’s education woes. “The only thing we haven’t tried to do,” Bishop notes, “is allow schools to be free. Go back to what has always worked: the free market. When people have freedom, they make better choices.”

Utah has now gained a little more of that freedom back and will be choosing from a market of testing companies. Hopefully the Beehive State will take that thirst for educational freedom a step further and exit the national standards bandwagon entirely.

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Thank you, Lindsay Burke and Heritage Foundation.

Anti-Liberty Plan For American Education: Full Text of the Letter From Marc Tucker to Hillary Clinton   12 comments

This letter, from Marc Tucker to Hillary Clinton (written a decade ago, long before “governors and educators and individual states came up with” the idea of Common Core) –shows the plan of elite politicians to overtake individual state sovereignty of education.  This letter is part of the Congressional Record.  It really was sent by Marc Tucker to Hillary Clinton.  It really does outline a plan to take over American education and turn it into a control system. And it’s really coming true, in the form of Common Core Education. 

Marc Tucker 

  

Hillary Clinton

11 November 1992

Hillary Clinton

The Governor’s Mansion

1800 Canter Street

Little Rock, AR 72206

Dear Hillary:

I still cannot believe you won. But utter delight that you did pervades all the circles in which I move. I met last Wednesday in David Rockefeller’s office with him, John Sculley, Dave Barram and David Haselkorn. It was a great celebration. Both John and David R. were more expansive than I have ever seen them — literally radiating happiness. My own view and theirs is that this country has seized its last chance. I am fond of quoting Winston Churchill to the effect that “America always does the right thing — after it has exhausted all the alternatives.” This election, more than anything else in my experience, proves his point.

The subject we were discussing was what you and Bill should do now about education, training and labor market policy. Following that meeting, I chaired another in Washington on the same topic. Those present at the second meeting included Tim Barnicle, Dave Barram, Mike Cohen, David Hornbeck, Hilary Pennington, Andy Plattner, Lauren Resnick, Betsy Brown Ruzzi, Bob Schwartz, Mike Smith and Bill Spring. Shirley Malcom, Ray Marshall and Susan McGuire were also invited. Though these three were not able to be present at last week’s meeting, they have all contributed by telephone to the ideas that follow. Ira Magaziner was also invited to this meeting.

Our purpose in these meetings was to propose concrete actions that the Clinton administration could take — between now and the inauguration, in the first 100 days and beyond. The result, from where I sit, was really exciting. We took a very large leap forward in terms of how to advance the agenda on which you and we have all been working — a practical plan for putting all the major components of the system in place within four years, by the time Bill has to run again.

I take personal responsibility for what follows. Though I believe everyone involved in the planning effort is in broad agreement, they may not all agree on the details. You should also be aware that, although the plan comes from a group closely associated with the National Center on Education and the Economy, there was no practical way to poll our whole Board on this plan in the time available. It represents, then, not a proposal from our Center, but the best thinking of the group I have named.

We think the great opportunity you have is to remold the entire American system for human resources development, almost all of the current components of which were put in place before World War II. The danger is that each of the ideas that Bill advanced in the campaign in the area of education and training could be translated individually in the ordinary course of governing into a legislative proposal and enacted as a program. This is the plan of least resistance. But it will lead to these programs being grafted onto the present system, not to a new system, and the opportunity will have been lost. If this sense of time and place is correct, it is essential that the administration’s efforts be guided by a consistent vision of what it wants to accomplish in the field of human resource development, with respect both to choice of key officials and the program.

What follows comes in three places:

First, a vision of the kind of national — not federal — human resources development system the nation could have. This is interwoven with a new approach to governing that should inform that vision. What is essential is that we create a seamless web of opportunities, to develop one’s skills that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone — young and old, poor and rich, worker and full-time student. It needs to be a system driven by client needs (not agency regulations or the needs of the organization providing the services), guided by clear standards that define the stages of the system for the people who progress through it, and regulated on the basis of outcomes that providers produce for their clients, not inputs into the system.

Second, a proposed legislative agenda you can use to implement this vision. We propose four high priority packages that will enable you to move quickly on the campaign promises:

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  1. The first would use your proposal for an apprenticeship system as the keystone of a strategy for putting a whole new postsecondary training system in place. That system would incorporate your proposal for reforming postsecondary education finance. It contains what we think is a powerful idea for rolling out and scaling up the whole new human resources system nationwide over the next four years, using the (renamed) apprenticeship ideas as the entering wedge.
  2. The second would combine initiatives on dislocated workers, a rebuilt employment service and a new system of labor market boards to offer the Clinton administration’s employment securityprogram, built on the best practices anywhere in the world. This is the backbone of a system for assuring adult workers in our society that they need never again watch with dismay as their jobs disappear and their chances of ever getting a good job again go with them.
  3. The third would concentrate on the overwhelming problems of our inner cities, combining elements of the first and second packages into a special program to greatly raise the work-related skills of the people trapped in the core of our great cities.
  4. The fourth would enable you to take advantage of legislation on which Congress has already been working to advance the elementary and secondary reform agenda.

The other major proposal we offer has to do with government organization for the human resources agenda. While we share your reservations about the hazards involved in bringing reorganization proposals to the Congress, we believe that the one we have come up with minimizes those drawbacks while creating an opportunity for the new administration to move like lightning to implement its human resources development proposals. We hope you can consider the merits of this idea quickly, because, if you decide to go with it or something like it, it will greatly affect the nature of the offers you make to prospective cabinet members.

The Vision

We take the proposals Bill put before the country in the campaign to be utterly consistent with the ideas advanced in America’s Choice, the school restructuring agenda first stated in A Nation Prepared, and later incorporated in the work of the National Alliance for Restructuring Education, and the elaboration of this view that Ray and I tried to capture in our book, Thinking for a Living. Taken together, we think these ideas constitute a consistent vision for a new human resources development system for the United States. I have tried to capture the essence of that vision below.

An Economic Strategy Based on Skill Development
  • The economy’s strength is derived from a whole population as skilled as any in the world, working in workplaces organized to take maximum advantage of the skills those people have to offer.
  • A seamless system of unending skill development that begins in the home with the very young and continues through school, postsecondary education and the workplace.
The Schools
  • Clear national standards of performance in general education (the knowledge and skills that everyone is expected to hold in common) are set to the level of the best achieving nations in the world for students of 16, and public schools are expected to bring all but the most severely handicapped up to that standard. Students get a certificate when they meet this standard, allowing them to go on to the next stage of their education. Though the standards are set to international benchmarks, they are distinctly American, reflecting our needs and values.
  • We have a national system of education in which curriculum, pedagogy, examinations, and teacher education and licensure systems are all linked to the national standards, but which provides for substantial variance among states, districts, and schools on these matters. This new system of linked standards, curriculum, and pedagogy will abandon the American tracking system, combining high academic standards with the ability to apply what one knows to real world problems and qualifying all students for a lifetime of learning in the postsecondary system and at work.
  • We have a system that rewards students who meet the national standards with further education and good jobs, providing them a strong incentive to work hard in school.
  • Our public school systems are reorganized to free up school professionals to make the key decisions about how to use all the available resources to bring students up to the standards. Most of the federal, state, district and union rules and regulations that now restrict school professionals’ ability to make these decisions are swept away, though strong measures are in place to make sure that vulnerable populations get the help they need. School professionals are paid at a level comparable to that of other professionals, but they are expected to put in a full year, to spend whatever time it takes to do the job and to be fully accountable for the results of their work. The federal, state and local governments provide the time, staff development resources, technology and other support needed for them to do the job. Nothing less than a wholly restructured school system can possibly bring all of our students up to the standards only a few have been expected to meet up to now.
  • There is a real — aggressive — program of public choice in our schools, rather than the flaccid version that is widespread now.
  • All students are guaranteed that they will have a fair shot at reaching the standards: that is, that whether they make it or not depends on the effort they are willing to make, and nothing else. School delivery standards are in place to make sure this happens. These standards have the same status in the system as the new student performance standards, assuring that the quality of instruction is high everywhere, but they are fashioned so as not to constitute a new bureaucratic nightmare.
Postsecondary Education and Work Skills
  • All students who meet the new national standards for general education are entitled to the equivalent of three more years of free additional education. We would have the federal and state governments match funds to guarantee one free year of college education to everyone who meets the new national standards for general education. So a student who meets the standard at 16 would be entitled to two free years of high school and one of college. Loans, which can be forgiven for public service, are available for additional education beyond that. National standards for sub-baccalaureate college-level professional and technical degrees and certificates will be established with the participation of employers, labor and higher education. These programs will include both academic study and structured on-the-job training. Eighty percent or more of American high school graduates will be expected to get some form of college degree, though most of them less than a baccalaureate. These new professional and technical certificates and degrees typically are won within three years of acquiring the general education certificate, so, for most postsecondary students, college will be free. These professional and technical degree programs will be designed to link to programs leading to the baccalaureate degree and higher degrees. There will be no dead ends in this system. Everyone who meets the general education standard will be able to go to some form of college, being able to borrow all the money they need to do so, beyond the first free year.

(This idea of post-secondary professional and technical certificates captures all of the essentials of the apprenticeship idea, while offering none of its drawbacks (see below). But it also makes it clear that those engaged in apprentice-style programs are getting more than narrow training; they are continuing their education for other purposes as well, and building a base for more education later. Clearly, this idea redefines college. Proprietary schools, employers and community-based organizations will want to offer these programs, as well as community colleges and four-year institutions, but these new entrants will have to be accredited if they are to qualify to offer the programs.)

  • Employers are not required to provide slots for the structured on-the-job training component of the program but many do so, because they get first access to the most accomplished graduates of these programs, and they can use these programs to introduce the trainees to their own values and way of doing things.
  • The system of skill standards for technical and professional degrees is the same for students just coming out of high school and for adults in the workforce. It is progressive, in the sense that certificates and degrees for entry level jobs lead to further professional and technical education programs at higher levels. Just as in the case of the system for the schools, though the standards are the same everywhere (leading to maximum mobility for students),the curricula can vary widely and programs can be custom designed to fit the needs of full-time and part-time students with very different requirements. Government grant and loan programs are available on the same terms to full-time and part-time students, as long as the programs in which they are enrolled are designed to lead to certificates and degrees defined by the system of professional and technical standards.
  • The national system of professional and technical standards is designed much like the multistate bar, which provides a national core around which the states can specify additional standards that meet their unique needs. There are national standards and exams for no more than 20 broad occupational areas, each of which can lead to many occupations in a number of related industries. Students who qualify in any one of these areas have the broad skills required by a whole family of occupations, and most are sufficiently skilled to enter the workforce immediately, with further occupation-specific skills provided by their union or employer. Industry and occupational groups can voluntarily create standards building on these broad standards for their own needs, as can the states. Students entering the system are first introduced to very broad occupational groups, narrowing over time to concentrate on acquiring the skills needed for a cluster of occupations. This modular system provides for the initiative of particular states and industries while at the same time providing for mobility across states and occupations by reducing the time and cost entailed in moving from one occupation to another. In this way, a balance is established between the kinds of generic skills needed to function effectively in high performance work organizations and the skills needed to continue learning quickly and well through a lifetime of work, on the one hand, and the specific skills needed to perform at a high level in a particular occupation on the other.
  • Institutions receiving grant and loan funds under this system are required to provide information to the public and to government agencies in a uniform format. This information covers enrollment by program, costs and success rates for students of different backgrounds and characteristics, and career outcomes for those students, thereby enabling students to make informed choices among institutions based on cost and performance. Loan defaults are reduced to a level close to zero, both because programs that do not deliver what they promise are not selected by prospective students and because the new postsecondary loan system uses the IRS to collect what is owed from salaries and wages as they are earned.

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Education and Training for Employed and Unemployed Adults
  • The national system of skills standards establishes the basis for the development of a coherent, unified training system. That system can be accessed by students coming out of high school, employed adults who want to improve their prospects, unemployed adults who are dislocated and others who lack the basic skills required to get out of poverty. But it is all the same system. There are no longer any parts of it that are exclusively for the disadvantaged,though special measures are taken to make sure that the disadvantaged are served. It is a system for everyone, just as all the parts of the system already described are for everyone. So the people who take advantage of this system are not marked by it as damaged goods. The skills they acquire are world class, clear and defined in part by the employers who will make decisions about hiring and advancement.
  • The new general education standard becomes the target for all basic education programs, both for school dropouts and adults. Achieving that standard is the prerequisite for enrollment in all professional and technical degree programs. A wide range of agencies and institutions offer programs leading to the general education certificate, including high schools, dropout recovery centers, adult education centers, community colleges, prisons and employers. These programs are tailored to the needs of the people who enroll in them. All the programs receiving government grant or loan funds that come with dropouts and adults for enrollment in programs preparing students to meet the general education standard must release the same kind of data required of the postsecondary institutions on enrollment, program description, cost and success rates. Reports are produced for each institution and for the system as a whole showing differential success rates for each major demographic group.
  • The system is funded in four different ways, all providing access to the same or a similar set of services. School dropouts below the age of 21 are entitled to the same amount of funding from the same sources that they would have been entitled to had they stayed in school. Dislocated workers are funded by the federal government through the federal programs for that purpose and by state unemployment insurance funds. The chronically unemployed are funded by federal and state funds established for that purpose. Employed people can access the system through the requirement that their employers spend an amount equal to 1-1/2 percent of their salary and wage bill on training leading to national skill certification. People in prison could get reductions in their sentences by meeting the general education standard in a program provided by the prison system. Any of these groups can also use the funds in their individual training account, if they have any, the balances in their grant entitlement or their access to the student loan fund.
Labor Market Systems
  • The Employment Service is greatly upgraded and separated from the Unemployment Insurance Fund. All available front-line jobs — whether public or private — must be listed in it by law. (This provision must be carefully designed to make sure that employers will not be subject to employment suits based on the data produced by this system — if they are subject to such suits, they will not participate.) All trainees in the system looking for work are entitled to be listed in it without a fee. So it is no longer a system just for the poor and unskilled, but for everyone. The system is fully computerized. It lists not only job openings and job seekers (with their qualifications) but also all the institutions in the labor market area offering programs leading to the general education certificate and those offering programs leading to the professional and technical college degrees and certificates, along with all the relevant data about the costs, characteristics and performance of those programs — for everyone and for special populations. Counselors are available to any citizen to help them assess their needs, plan a program and finance it, and, once they are trained, to find an opening.
  • A system of labor market boards is established at the local, state and federal levels to coordinate the systems for job training, postsecondary professional and technical education, adult basic education, job matching and counseling. The rebuilt Employment Service is supervised by these boards. The system’s clients no longer have to go from agency to agency filling out separate applications for separate programs. It is all taken care of at the local labor market board office by one counselor accessing the integrated computer-based program, which makes it possible for the counselor to determine eligibility for all relevant programs at once, plan a program with the client and assemble the necessary funding from all the available sources. The same system will enable counselor and client to array all the relevant program providers side by side, assess their relative costs and performance records and determine which providers are best able to meet the client’s needs based on performance.
Some Common Features
  • Throughout, the object is to have a performance- and client-oriented system, to encourage local creativity and responsibility by getting local people to commit to high goals and organize to achieve them, sweeping away as much of the rules, regulations and bureaucracy that are in their way as possible, provided that they are making real progress against their goals. For this to work, the standards at every level of the system have to be clear; every client has to know what they have to accomplish in order to get what they want out of the system. The service providers have to be supported in the task of getting their clients to the finish line and rewarded when they are making real progress toward that goal. We would sweep away means-tested programs, because they stigmatize their recipients and alienate the public, replacing them with programs that are for everyone, but also work for the disadvantaged. We would replace rules defining inputs with rules defining outcomes and the rewards for achieving them. This means, among other things, permitting local people to combine as many federal programs as they see fit, provided that the intended beneficiaries are progressing toward the right outcomes (there are now 23 separate federal programs for dislocated workers!). We would make individuals, their families and whole communities the unit of service, not agencies, programs and projects. Wherever possible, we would have service providers compete with one another for funds that come with the client, in an environment in which the client has good information about the cost and performance record of the competing providers. Dealing with public agencies — whether they are schools or the employment service — should be more like dealing with Federal Express than with the old Post Office.

This vision, as I pointed out above, is consistent with everything Bill proposed as a candidate. But it goes beyond those proposals, extending them from ideas for new programs to a comprehensive vision of how they can be used as building blocks for a whole new system. But this vision is very complex, will take a long time to sell, and will have to be revised many times along the way. The right way to think about it is as an internal working document that forms the background for a plan, not the plan itself. One would want to make sure that the specific actions of the new administration were designed, in a general way, to advance this agenda as it evolved, while not committing anyone to the details, which would change over time.

Everything that follows is cast in the frame of strategies for bringing the new system into being, not as a pilot program, not as a few demonstrations to be swept aside in another administration, but everywhere, as the new way of doing business.

In the sections that follow, we break these goals down into their main components and propose an action plan for each.

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Major Components of the Program

The preceding section presented a vision of the system we have in mind chronologically from the point of view of an individual served by it. Here we reverse the order, starting with descriptions of program components designed to serve adults, and working our way down to the very young.

HIGH SKILLS FOR ECONOMIC COMPETITIVENESS PROGRAM

Developing System Standards

  • Create National Board for Professional and Technical Standards. Board is private not-for-profit chartered by Congress. Charter specifies broad membership composed of leading figures from higher education, business, labor, government and advocacy groups. Board can receive appropriated funds from Congress, private foundations, individuals, and corporations. Neither Congress nor the executive branch can dictate the standards set by the Board. But the Board is required to report annually to the President and the Congress in order to provide for public accountability. It is also directed to work collaboratively with the states and cities involved in the Collaborative Design and Development Program (see below) in the development of the standards.
  • Charter specifies that the National Board will set broad performance standards (not time-in-the-seat standards or course standards) for college-level Professional and Technical certificates and degrees in not more than 20 areas and develops performance examinations for each. The Board is required to set broad standards of the kind described in the vision statement above and is not permitted to simply reify the narrow standards that characterize many occupations now. (More than 2,000 standards currently exist, many for licensed occupations — these are not the kinds of standards we have in mind.) It also specifies that the programs leading to these certificates and degrees will combine time in the classroom with time at the work-site in structured on-the-job training. The standards assume the existence of (high school level) general education standards set by others. The new standards and exams are meant to be supplemented by the states and by individual industries and occupations. Board is responsible for administering the exam system and continually updating the standards and exams.

Legislation creating the Board is sent to the Congress in the first six months of the administration, imposing a deadline for creating the standards and the exams within three years of passage of the legislation.

Commentary:

The proposal reframes the Clinton apprenticeship proposal as a college program and establishes a mechanism for setting the standards for the program. The unions are adamantly opposed to broad based apprenticeship programs by that name. Focus groups conducted by JFF and others show that parents everywhere want their kids to go to college, not to be shunted aside into a non-college apprenticeship “vocational” program. By requiring these programs to be a combination of classroom instruction and structured OJT, and creating a standard-setting board that includes employers and labor, all the objectives of the apprenticeship idea are achieved, while at the same time assuring much broader support for the idea, as well as a guarantee that the program will not become too narrowly focussed on particular occupations. It also ties the Clinton apprenticeship idea to the Clinton college funding proposal in a seamless web. Charging the Board with creating not more than 20 certificate or degree categories establishes a balance between the need to create one national system on the one hand with the need to avoid creating a cumbersome and rigid national bureaucracy on the other. This approach provides lots of latitude for individual industry groups, professional groups and state authorities to establish their own standards, while at the same time avoiding the chaos that would surely occur if they were the only source of standards. The bill establishing the Board should also authorize the executive branch to make grants to industry groups, professional societies, occupational groups and states to develop standards and exams. Our assumption is that the system we are proposing will be managed so as to encourage the states to combine the last two years of high school and the first two years of community college into three year programs leading to college degrees and certificates. Proprietary institutions, employers and community-based organizations could also offer these programs, but they would have to be accredited to offer these college-level programs. Eventually, students getting their general education certificates might go directly to community college or to another form of college, but the new system should not require that.

Collaborative Design and Development Program

The object is to create a single comprehensive system for professional and technical education that meets the requirements of everyone from high school students to skilled dislocated workers, from the hard core unemployed to employed adults who want to improve their prospects. Creating such a system means sweeping aside countless programs, building new ones, combining funding authorities, changing deeply embedded institutional structures, and so on. The question is how to get from where we are to where we want to be. Trying to ram it down everyone’s throat would engender overwhelming opposition. Our idea is to draft legislation that would offer an opportunity for those states — and selected large cities — that are excited about this set of ideas to come forward and join with each other and with the federal government in an alliance to do the necessary design work and actually deliver the needed services on a fast track. The legislation would require the executive branch to establish a competitive grant program for these states and cities and to engage a group of organizations to offer technical assistance to the expanding set of states and cities engaged in designing and implementing the new system. This is not the usual large scale experiment, nor is it a demonstration program. A highly regarded precedent exists for this approach in the National Science Foundation’s SSI program. As soon as the first set of states is engaged, another set would be invited to participate, until most or all the states are involved. It is a collaborative design, rollout and scale-up program. It is intended to parallel the work of the National Board for College Professional and Technical Standards, so that the states and cities (and all their partners) would be able to implement the new standards as soon as they become available, although they would be delivering services on a large scale before that happened. Thus, major parts of the whole system would be in operation in a majority of the states within three years from the passage of the initial legislation. Inclusion of selected large cities in this design is not an afterthought. We believe that what we are proposing here for the cities is the necessary complement to a large scale job-creation program for the cities. Skill development will not work if there are no jobs, but job development will not work without a determined effort to improve the skills of city residents. This is the skill development component.

  • Participants
    • volunteer states, counterpart initiative for cities.
    • 15 states, 15 cities selected to begin in first year. 15 more in each successive year.
    • 5 year grants (on the order of $20 million per year to each state, lower amounts to the cities) given to each, with specific goals to be achieved by the third year, including program elements in place (e.g., upgraded employment service), number of people enrolled in new professional and technical programs and so on.
    • a core set of High Performance Work Organization firms willing to participate in standard setting and to offer training slots and mentors.
  • Criteria for Selection
    • strategies for enriching existing co-op, tech prep and other programs to meet the criteria.
    • commitment to implementing new general education standard in legislation.
    • commitment to implementing the new Technical and Professional skills standards for college.
    • commitment to developing an outcome- and performance-based system for human resources development system.
    • commitment to new role for employment service.
    • commitment to join with others in national design and implementation activity.
  • Clients
    • young adults entering workforce.
    • dislocated workers.
    • long-term unemployed.
    • employed who want to upgrade skills.
  • Program Components
    • institute own version of state and local labor market boards. Local labor market boards to involve leading employers, labor representatives, educators and advocacy group leaders in running the redesigned employment service, running intake system for all clients, counseling all clients, maintaining the information system that will make the vendor market efficient and organizing employers to provide job experience and training slots for school youth and adult trainees.
    • rebuild employment service as a primary function of labor market boards.
    • develop programs to bring dropouts and illiterates up to general education certificate standard. Organize local alternative providers, firms to provide alternative education, counseling, job experience and placement services to these clients.
    • develop programs for dislocated workers and hard-core unemployed (see below).
    • develop city- and state-wide programs to combine the last two years of high school and the first two years of colleges into three-year programs after acquisition of the general education certificate to culminate in college certificates and degrees. These programs should combine academics and structured on-the-job training.
    • develop uniform reporting system for providers, requiring them to provide information in that format on characteristics of clients, their success rates by program, and the costs of those programs. Develop computer-based system for combining this data at local labor market board offices with employment data from the stateso that counselors and clients can look at programs offered by colleges and other vendors in terms of cost, client characteristics, program design, and outcomes. Including subsequent employment histories for graduates.
    • design all programs around the forthcoming general education standards and the standards to be developed by the National Board for College Professional and Technical Standards.
    • create statewide program of technical assistance to firms on high performance work organization and help them develop quality programs for participants in Technical and Professional certificate and degree programs. (It is essential that these programs be high quality, nonbureaucratic and voluntary for the firms.)
    • participate with other states and the national technical assistance program in the national alliance effort to exchange information and assistance among all participants.

    [Page: E1823]

  • National technical assistance to participants
    • executive branch authorized to compete opportunity to provide the following services (probably using a Request For Qualifications):
    • state-of-the art assistance to the states and cities related to the principal program components (e.g., work reorganization, training, basic literacy, funding systems, apprenticeship systems, large scale data management systems, training systems for the HR professionals who make the whole system work, etc.). A number of organizations would be funded. Each would be expected to provide information and direct assistance to the states and cities involved, and to coordinate their efforts with one another.
    • it is essential that the technical assistance function include a major professional development component to make sure the key people in the states and cities upon whom success depends have the resources available to develop the high skills required. Some of the funds for this function should be provided directly to the states and cities, some to the technical assistance agency.
    • coordination of the design and implementation activities of the whole consortium, document results, prepare reports, etc. One organization would be funded to perform this function.

    Dislocated Workers Program

    • new legislation would permit combining all dislocated workers programs at redesigned employment service office. Clients would, in effect, receive vouchers for education and training in amounts determined by the benefits for which they qualify. Employment service case managers would qualify client worker for benefits and assist the client in the selection of education and training programs offered by provider institutions. Any provider institutions that receive funds derived from dislocated worker programs are required to provide information on costs and performance of programs in uniform format described above. This consolidated and voucherized dislocated workers program would operate nationwide. It would be integrated with Collaborative Design and Development Program in those states and cities in which that program functioned. It would be built around the general education certificate and the Professional and Technical Certificate and Degree Program as soon as those standards were in place. In this way, programs for dislocated workers would be progressively and fully integrated with the rest of the national education and training system.

    Levy-Grant System

    • this is the part of the system that provides funds for currently employed people to improve their skills. Ideally, it should specifically provide means whereby front-line workers can earn their general education credential (if they do not already have one) and acquire Professional and Technical Certificates and degrees in fields of their choosing.
    • everything we have heard indicates virtually universal opposition in the employer community to the proposal for a 1-1/2% levy on employers for training to support the costs associated with employed workers gaining these skills, whatever the levy is called. We propose that Bill take a leaf out of the German book. One of the most important reasons that large German employers offer apprenticeship slots to German youngsters is that they fear, with good reason, that if they don’t volunteer to do so, the law will require it. Bill could gather a group of leading executives and business organization leaders, and tell them straight out that he will hold back on submitting legislation to require a training levy, provided that they commit themselves to a drive to get employers to get their average expenditures on front-line employee training up to 2% of front-line employee salaries and wages within two years. If they have not done so within that time, then he will expect their support when he submits legislation requiring the training levy. He could do the same thing with respect to slots for structured on-the-job training.

    College Loan/Public Service Program

    • we presume that this program is being designed by others and so have not attended to it. From everything we know about it, however, it is entirely compatible with the rest of what is proposed here. What is, of course, especially relevant here, is that our reconceptualization of the apprenticeship proposal as a college-level education program, combined with our proposal that everyone who gets the general education credential be entitled to a free year of higher education (combined federal and state funds) will have a decided impact on the calculations of cost for the college loan/public service program.

    Assistance for Dropouts are the Long-Term Unemployed

    • the problem of upgrading the skills of high school dropouts and the adult hard core unemployed is especially difficult. It is also at the heart of the problem of our inner cities. All the evidence indicates that what is needed is something with all the important characteristics of a non-residential Job Corps-like program. The problem with the Job Corps is that it is operated directly by the federal government and is therefore not embedded at all in the infrastructure of local communities. The way to solve this problem is to create a new urban program that is locally — not federally — organized and administered, but which must operate in a way that uses something like the federal standards for contracting for Job Corps services. In this way, local employers, neighborhood organizations and other local service providers could meet the need, but requiring local authorities to use the federal standards would assure high quality results. Programs for high school dropouts and the hard-core unemployed would probably have to be separately organized, though the services provided would be much the same. Federal funds would be offered on a matching basis with state and local funds for this purpose. These programs should be fully integrated with the revitalized employment service. The local labor market board would be the local authority responsible for receiving the funds and contracting with providers for the services. It would provide diagnostic, placement and testing services. We would eliminate the targeted jobs credit and use the money now spent on that program to finance these operations. Funds can also be used from the JOBS program in the welfare reform act. This will not be sufficient, however, because there is currently no federal money available to meet the needs of hard-core unemployed males (mostly Black) and so new monies will have to be appropriated for the purpose.

    Commentary:

    As you know very well, the High Skills, Competitive Workforce Act sponsored by Senators Kennedy and Hatfield and Congressmen Gephardt and Regula provides a ready-made vehicle for advancing many of the ideas we have outlined. To foster a good working relationship with the Congress, we suggest that, to the extent possible, the framework of these companion bills be used to frame the President’s proposals. You may not know that we have put together a large group of representatives of Washington-based organizations to come to a consensus around the ideas in America’s Choice. They are full of energy and very committed to this joint effort. If they are made part of the process of framing the legislative proposals, they can be expected to be strong support for them when they arrive on the Hill. As you think about the assembly of these ideas into specific legislative proposals, you may also want to take into account the packaging ideas that come later in this letter.

    ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION PROGRAM

    The situation with respect to elementary and secondary education is very different from adult education and training. In the latter case, a new vision and a whole new structure is required. In the former, there is increasing acceptance of a new vision and structure among the public at large, within the relevant professional groups and in Congress. There is also a lot of existing activity on which to build. So we confine ourselves here to describing some of those activities that can be used to launch the Clinton education program.

    Standard Setting

    Legislation to accelerate the process of national standard setting in education was contained in the conference report on S.2 and HR 4323 that was defeated on a recent cloture vote. Solid majorities were behind the legislation in both houses of Congress. While some of us would quarrel with a few of the details, we think the new administration should support the early reintroduction of this legislation with whatever changes it thinks fit. This legislation does not establish a national body to create a national examination system. We think that is the right choice for now.

    [Page: E1824]

    Systemic Chance in Public Education

    The conference report on S.2 and HR 4323 also contained a comprehensive program to support systemic change in public education. Here again, some of us would quibble with some of the particulars, but we believe that the administration’s objectives would be well served by endorsing the resubmission of this legislation, modified as it sees fit.

    Federal Programs for the Disadvantaged

    The established federal education programs for the disadvantaged need to be thoroughly overhauled to reflect an emphasis on results for the students rather than compliance with the regulations. A national commission on Chapter 1, the largest of these programs, chaired by David Hornbeck, has designed a radically new version of this legislation, with the active participation of many of the advocacy groups. Other groups have been similarly engaged. We think the new administration should quickly endorse the work of the national commission and introduce its proposals early next year. It is unlikely that this legislation will pass before the deadline — two years away — for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, but early endorsement of this new approach by the administration will send a strong signal to the Congress and will greatly affect the climate in which other parts of the act will be considered.

    Public Choice Technology, Integrated Health and Human Services, Curriculum Resources, High Performance Management, Professional Development and Research and Development

    The restructuring of the schools that is envisioned in S.2 and HR 4323 is not likely to succeed unless the schools have a lot of information about how to do it and real assistance in getting it done. The areas in which this help is needed are suggested by the heading of this section. One of the most cost-effective things the federal government could do is to provide support for research, development and technical assistance of the schools on these topics. The new Secretary of Education should be directed to propose a strategy for doing just that, on a scale sufficient to the need. Existing programs of research, development and assistance should be examined as possible sources of funds for these purposes. Professional development is a special case. To build the restructured system will require an enormous amount of professional development and the time in which professionals can take advantage of such a resource. Both cost a lot of money. One of the priorities for the new education secretary should be the development of strategies for dealing with these problems. But here, as elsewhere, there are some existing programs in the Department of Education whose funds can be redirected for this purpose, programs that are not currently informed by the goals that we have spelled out. Much of what we have in mind here can be accomplished through the reauthorization of the Office of Educational Research and Improvement. Legislation for that reauthorization was prepared for the last session of Congress, but did not pass. That legislation was informed by a deep distrust of the Republican administration, rather than the vision put forward by the Clinton campaign, but that can and should be remedied on the next round.

    Early Childhood Education

    The president-elect has committed himself to a great expansion in the funding of Head Start. We agree. But the design of the program should be changed to reflect several important requirements. The quality of professional preparation for the people who staff these programs is very low and there are no standards that apply to their employment. The same kind of standard setting we have called for in the rest of this plan should inform the approach to this program. Early childhood education should be combined with quality day care to provide wrap-around programs that enable working parents to drop off their children at the beginning of the workday and pick them up at the end. Full funding for the very poor should be combined with matching funds to extend the tuition paid by middle class parents to make sure that these programs are not officially segregated by income. The growth of the program should be phased in, rather than done all at once, so that quality problems can be addressed along the way, based on developing examples of best practice. These and other related issues need to be addressed, in our judgment, before the new administration commits itself on the specific form of increased support for Head Start.

    Putting the package together:

    Here we remind you of what we said at the beginning of this letter about timing the legislative agenda. We propose that you assemble the ideas just described into four high priority packages that will enable you to move quickly on the campaign promises:

    1. The first would use your proposal for an apprenticeship system as the keystone of the strategy for putting the whole new postsecondary training system in place. It would consist of the proposal for postsecondary standards, the Collaborative Design and Development proposal, the technical assistance proposal and the postsecondary education finance proposal.
    2. The second would combine the initiatives on dislocated workers, the rebuilt employment service and the new system of labor market boards as the Clinton administration’s employment security program, built on the best practices anywhere in the world. This is the backbone of a system for assuring adult workers in our society that they need never again watch with dismay as their jobs disappear and their chances of ever getting a good job again go with them.
    3. The third would concentrate on the overwhelming problems of our inner cities, combining most of the elements of the first and second packages into a special program to greatly raise the work-related skills of the people trapped in the core of our great cities.
    4. The fourth would enable you to take advantage of legislation on which Congress has already been working to advance the elementary and secondary reform agenda. It would combine the successor to HR 4323 and S.2 (incorporating the systemic reforms agenda and the board for student performance standards), with the proposal for revamping Chapter 1.

    Organizing the Executive Branch for Human Resouces Development

    The issue here is how to organize the federal government to make sure that the new system is actually built as a seamless web in the field, where it counts, and that program gets a fast start with a first-rate team behind it.

    We propose, first, that the President appoint a National Council on Human Resources Development. It would consist of the relevant key White House officials, cabinet members and members of Congress. It would also include a small number of governors, educators, business executives, labor leaders and advocates for minorities and the poor. It would be established in such a way as to assure continuity of membership across administrations, so that the consensus it forges will outlast any one administration. It would be charged with recommending broad policy on a national system of human resources development to the President and the Congress, assessing the effectiveness and promise of current programs and proposing new ones. It would be staffed by senior officials on the Domestic Policy Council staff of the President.

    Second, we propose that a new agency be created, the National Institute for Learning, Work and Service. Creation of this agency would signal instantly the new administration’s commitment to putting the continuing education and training of the `forgotten half’ on a par with the preparation of those who have historically been given the resources to go to ‘college,’ and to integrate the two systems, not with a view to dragging down the present system and those it serves, but rather to make good on the promise that everyone will have access to the kind of education that only a small minority have had access to up to now. To this agency would be assigned the functions now performed by the assistant secretary for employment and training, the assistant secretary for vocational education and the assistant secretary for higher education. The agency would be staffed by people specifically recruited from all over the country for the purpose. The staff would be small, high powered and able to move quickly to implement the policy initiatives of the new President in the field of human resources development.

    The closest existing model to what we have in mind is the National Science Board and the National Science Foundation, with the Council in the place of the Board and the Institute in the place of the Foundation. But our council would be advisory, whereas the Board is governing. If you do not like the idea of a permanent Council, you might consider the idea of a temporary President’s Task Force, constituted much as the Council would be.

    In this scheme, the Department of Education would be free to focus on putting the new student performance standards in place and managing the programs that will take the leadership in the national restructuring of the schools. Much of the financing and disbursement functions of the higher education program would move to the Treasury Department, leaving the higher education staff in the new Institute to focus on matters of substance.

    In any case, as you can see, we believe that some extraordinary measure well short of actually merging the departments of labor and education is required to move the new agenda with dispatch.

    Getting Consensus on the Vision

    Radical changes in attitudes, values and beliefs are required to move any combination of these agendas. The federal government will have little direct leverage on many of the actors involved. For much of what must be done, a new, broad consensus will be required. What role can the new administration play in forging that consensus and how should it go about doing it?

    At the narrowest level, the agenda cannot be moved unless there is agreement among the governors, the President and the Congress. Bill’s role at the Charlottesville summit leads naturally to a reconvening of that group, perhaps with the addition of key members of Congress and others.

    But we think that having an early summit on the subject of the whole human resources agenda would be risky, for many reasons. Better to build on Bill’s enormous success during the campaign with national talk shows, in school gymnasiums and the bus trips. He could start on the consensus-building progress this way, taking his message directly to the public, while submitting his legislative agenda and working it on the Hill. After six months or so, when the public has warmed to the ideas and the legislative packages are about to get into hearings, then you might consider some form of summit, broadened to include not only the governors, but also key members of Congress and others whose support and influence are important. This way, Bill can be sure that the agenda is his, and he can go into it with a groundswell of support behind him.

    •     •     •

    That’s it. None of us doubt that you have thought long and hard about many of these things and have probably gone way beyond what we have laid out in many areas. But we hope that there is something here that you can use. We would, of course, be very happy to flesh out these ideas at greater length and work with anyone you choose to make them fit the work that you have been doing.

    Very best wishes from all of us to you and Bill.

    [signed: Marc]

    Marc Tucker

    END

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