Archive for the ‘ESEA’ Tag

ESSA 101: Or, Why Call the U.S. Senate and Scream?   8 comments

crying stopesea

 

#1  WHO CARES ABOUT ESSA/ESEA?

While Utah Senator Mike Lee warned that the ESSA/ESEA bill is dangerously bad (both in policy and in its corrupt passing process) the Deseret News, Lee’s home newspaper, published a loudly pro-ESSA editorial.

While Reps Mia Love, Jason Chaffetz, Rob Bishop and Chris Stewart– all four of Utah’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives– rightly voted “no” on the bill just a few days ago, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, who still has to vote, is aggressively pushing pro-ESSA talking points on his twitter feed.

Obama’s got his Secretary of Education pushing ESSA.   In agreement with Obama and Duncan is Utah’s Governor Herbert, and the countless ed-alignment  moneymakers, and so is the Utah PTA.  Check out their shared talking points; then look at the actual bill.  Disconnected.  Are they deliberately lying or do they just not read bills, preferring talking points?  Either way, they are promoting the wrong thing.

 

#2 WHO  HAS READ IT AND WARNS THAT IT IS BAD?  To name  a few that come to mind:

Amash
Babin
Bishop (UT)
Blackburn
Brat
Bridenstine
Brooks (AL)
Buck
Chabot
Chaffetz
Clawson (FL)
Culberson
DeSantis
DesJarlais
Duncan (SC)
Farenthold
Fleming
Franks (AZ)
Gohmert
Gosar
Gowdy
Graves (LA)
Guinta
Harper
Harris
Hice, Jody B.
Holding
Huelskamp
Johnson, Sam
Jones
Jordan
Kelly (MS)
King (IA)
Labrador
Lamborn
Loudermilk
Love
Lummis
Marchant
Massie
Meadows
Miller (FL)
Mooney (WV)
Mulvaney
Palazzo
Palmer
Perry
Poe (TX)
Ratcliffe
Rogers (AL)
Rohrabacher
Rothfus
Salmon
Sanford
Schweikert
Smith (MO)
Smith (NE)
Stewart
Stutzman
Walker
Weber (TX)
Wenstrup
Yoder
Yoho

There are many more,  of course.

There are enough testifiers out there now, that the Senate cannot honestly pretend not to know how bad it is.

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#3 WHAT’S IN IT?

The ESSA/ESEA  bill imposes federal dictates on localities, loads many new federal programs on the nation, authorizes the feds to veto what states want to do; increases testing and data mining, cements common standards and common data (“universal principles of design”) shifts power to put the feds in charge of babies’ educationveers into private  school decision making; and  is as utterly out of harmony with the freedoms outlined in the U.S. Constitution as Obamacarein no way blessing children’s lives.

It is not better; it is worse than No Child Left Behind.

Not only is it over 1000 pages long; it was hidden from public view until two days before the House of Representatives voted on it.

If it’s so good, why hide it?

(The pretenses of Governor Herbert, Senator Hatch, Secretary Duncan,  President Obama, Bill Gates, the National PTA and the Chamber of Commerce, about the supposed goodness of education reforms as cemented by this ESSA, are on very thin ice. So are any senators who will vote yes.)

#4  WHEN’S THE VOTE?

This is voting eve.

The US Senate is going to vote on it tomorrow.  Look for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)  — a rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) also known as No Child Left Behind, aka the Frankenstein ugly bill.

May truth somehow prevail in the U.S. Senate tomorrow.

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If you haven’t yet, please call senators at 202-224-3121 (switchboard) or look for their numbers here.

 

You Shall Not Pass: Utah Senator Mike Lee Isn’t Fooled by No Child Left Behind Reauthorization   Leave a comment

Legendary US Dept of Education whistleblower Charlotte Iserbyt  has  pointed out at her blog, ABCs of Dumbdown, that some members of Congress are deliberately concealing machinations of No Child Left Behind/ESEA  and are planning a rushed vote so that no time is allotted for public scrutiny nor for full Congressional analysis of the huge federal law.  She also points out that others, like Utah Senator Mike Lee, aren’t falling for the ruse.

In the official Congressional Record of two days ago, you can read the entire statement of Utah Senator Mike Lee, who said (see page S8032):

So from the surface it will still look like the conference process is happening, is unfolding in the manner in which it is supposed to, but beneath the surface we know that all of this has already been prearranged, precooked, predetermined by a select few Members of Congress working behind closed doors free from scrutiny, and we know this vote was scheduled on extremely short notice so it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the rest of us to influence the substance of the conference report through motions to instruct.”

Senator Lee also stated that the new ESEA/NCLB aims to spend $250 million on federal preschool, even though:

“Nowhere has the top-down, centrally planned model of public education failed more emphatically than in our nation’s public pre-K programs. The epitome of federal preschool programs is Headstart, which has consistently failed.”

Senator Lee noted that the bill must be stopped because it cements Common Core:

“The bill also doubles down on the discredited common core approach to elementary and secondary education the American people have roundly and consistently rejected. Parents and teachers across America are frustrated by the heavy-handed, overly prescriptive approach to education policy by Washington, D.C.   I have heard from countless moms and dads in Utah who feel as though anonymous government officials living and working 2,000 miles away have a greater say in the education of their own children than they do.”

Please call the US Capital in D.C. to ask your senators and representatives to VOTE NO on ESEA/NCLB reauthorization.  202-224-3121. 

For additional information and details on who is fighting with us and why we must stop the bill, click here.

URGENT: Congress! NO on New No Child Left Behind/ESEA Reauthorization   2 comments

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Call 202-224-3121 to be connected to your Representatives and Senators in D.C. today.

They are about to vote to pass No Child Left Behind/ESEA in a new form that is Constitutionally unacceptable.

It promotes accountability, backwards.  Instead of the creation (government school system) being accountable to its creator (We, the individual People) this NCLB/ESEA proposed law wants We, the People accountable to the creation itself via data tagging and an increase of laws to bind us.

I recommend reading what American Principles Project is saying at The Pulse 2016 and what U.S. Grassroots organizations said in an open letter to Congress.

You can also just read the official US Dept. of Education blog to see the at-first-glance-seemingly-innocuous words from Secretary Duncan:

“…the nation is at a crossroads with two different paths for an new ESEA — a choice with moral and economic consequences“.  That is true.  Then he says, “ESEA should be replaced with a law that ensures opportunity for every child in this country; strengthens our nation economically; and expands… accountability.”

Do you see any dangerous false premises behind those words?

  1.  It’s based on the premise that the new version of ESEA is a better law, which is false.  ESEA cements big government controls over citizens, assumes that the federal government knows best how to define and how to turn around struggling schools;  increases the workforce-not-academic mindset of schools; pushes toddlers into the government influence with early childhood education fund promotion, and builds its whole monstrous mess on federally structured, interoperable, common longitudinal databases (SLDS), and common educational data standards— data tags that are nonconsensual citizen tracking for most of the person’s life.  That alone should give Congress a second thought.
  2. It assumes that the federal government Constitutionally does, or morally should, hold the power to influence “every child in this country”.  But the Constitution says otherwise.  So does the Bible.
  3. It assumes that economic fulfillment, defined by government, is a proper role of a school system.  That’s communism, folks.  In America, we go to school to learn truth– not to be minimally trained in order to serve the government’s definition of what the economy needs.*
  4. It assumes that accountability should be from students, teachers and schools to Big Government.  False.  That’s almost exactly backwards.  Accountability should be from public servants (teachers, state officials, and elected officials, to the clients of public ed:  that is, voters, student familes, and taxpayers.  We the People created government.  We created the school system.  The creation cannot demand accountability from its creator.  The creation cannot boss its creator –unless We the People who created it, are sweet-talked and bribed by Duncan and others into allowing it. We the People must hold on to the reins of power and not become sheep to our own creation.  But ESEA is threatening us.

*The Business Roundtable has written a letter to Congress that says, “A prepared workforce is essential for U.S. employers of all sizes. This is how we guarantee a brighter future for our workers and their families. We ask you to encourage the conferees to strengthen ESEA’s accountability provisions. Schools should be required to implement support strategies in cases where students are not meeting state-defined achievement goals…”

What?  Corporations want Congress to pass ESEA so that schools will be forced to move toward a workforce-based, rather than a liberty and individual-based, achievement plan.  That sounds no different that the thinking of the communist countries’ systems.  Decision making for children should never be based on the judgment of the government machine’s economic dictates –but on what the student, with guidance from the parent, and trusted teachers, choose.

Please don’t be fooled by the cronies’ talk.  This is America.  We want academic and creative and computer freedom, not a top-down system run by the coupling of government to corporation, which bypasses the will of the voters and the individuals that must abide by it.

Call today.  Tell your Senator and Representative in DC to vote NO on ESEA reauthorization. 202-224-3121.

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What Does the Passage of HR5, the New No Child Left Behind, Mean For American Children?   19 comments

emmett

What does it mean that HR5, the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, passed?  What does it mean for children, teachers, parents?  Who benefits?  Why was it so strongly promoted?

Attorney and author Emmett McGroarty reported this week at The Pulse 2016 how “House Republicans Betray Common Core Moms” with the passage of HR5. He explained that the bill serves the testing industry, not the people:

“By failing to eliminate or even curb the federal testing mandates, the bill instead serves the testing industry rather than the people.  Under NCLB, that industry has grown to a $2 billion per year enterprise.”

McGroarty’s article explains that HR5 promotes psychological profiling of students: HR5 “removes protection against socio-emotional profiling in the statewide assessments (eliminating NCLB’s prohibition against including assessment items that “evaluate or assess personal or family beliefs and attitudes”). Not only does it fail to protect against psychological data-gathering, it actually dictates the type of Brave New World assessments that operate by compiling and analyzing psychological profiles on children.  Unlike NCLB, H.R. 5 also requires assessment on behavioral/skills-based standards rather than solely academic standards.”

These and other, equally disturbing items in HR5,  can not explain why the Republican House of Representatives passed this 800-page bill.  And why was there virtually no transparency on the language of the bill in town hall meetings and media outreach?

McGroarty points out that the bill is “one of the most far-reaching pieces of domestic legislation” yet was passed “without holding many, if any, town hall meetings. Certainly, the effort that leadership spent arm-twisting its membership would have been better spent encouraging its members to meet with their constituents and giving them time in which to do so.”

Read the whole article here.

amash

Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan wrote, this week,

“On Wednesday, I was honored to stand up for parental rights by voting no on ‪#‎HR5‬, the bill to reauthorize ‪#‎NoChildLeftBehind‬. The bill increases federal control of education. Here are the facts you should know about H.R. 5 and the current status of NCLB:

The funding authorization for No Child Left Behind expired more than seven years ago. Contrary to some statements and press reports, H.R. 5 does not repeal NCLB; it reauthorizes NCLB with modifications. If H.R. 5 becomes law, NCLB will be authorized for the first time since FY 2008.

Why do states and schools continue to act as though No Child Left Behind is current law? Because Congress has continued to appropriate money for NCLB as though the funding authorization never expired! In other words, the program is legally dead, yet Congress continues to send federal funding to schools, with strings attached, as though the law remains in effect.

How should Congress deal with No Child Left Behind? Simply stop funding it. There’s no current authorization for the funding, so the funding needs to stop.

Don’t we need this new bill to stop Common Core? No, we don’t. H.R. 5 reauthorizes No Child Left Behind, which provides federal funding for education. The bill says none of that money may be used (or withheld) to push Common Core. But voting no on H.R. 5 means voting no on the funding authorization that the federal government uses to compel states to adopt Common Core. So, either way, Common Core loses.

Doesn’t this new bill include an amendment to allow parents to opt out of standardized testing? Yes, but it’s H.R. 5 that authorizes federally mandated standardized testing in the first place. Voting no on H.R. 5 means voting no on such standardized testing.

Was there an amendment to allow states to opt out of No Child Left Behind even if H.R. 5 becomes law? Yes. I voted yes on the Walker amendment, but remarkably it failed 195-235 in a Republican-led House of Representatives.”

chaffetz

Meanwhile, my own representative, Representative Jason Chaffetz,  disagrees with McGroarty and Amash.  He voted for HR5.

Chaffetz put out a press release saying that he voted for  HR5 because it “Reduces the federal role in education”.   That phrase is honey to many Utahns’ ears but the phrase doesn’t match the language of the bill.

I’m so disappointed that Rep. Chaffetz, who I’ve until now appreciated–  for his willngness to fight Hillary Clinton and search for justice and documentation in the Benghazi murders.  But his press release on HR5 includes no documentation: no bill language with references, nothing to reassure people like me that he did more than blindly adopt the bill’s talking points and cut & paste them to his press release.  Did he study that bill?  If so, I’d like to see Rep. Chaffetz intelligently debate Rep. Amash on HR5.  I’d like to have seen a town hall on the subject PRIOR to its passing.  I’ve heard Chaffetz say, multiple times, with roaring applause, that he would like to see the Dept. of Education disbanded.  But his vote doesn’t match that sentiment.

He voted FOR this bill that cemented the unconsitutional master-servant relationship of feds over states:

  • “For any State desiring to receive a grant under this subpart, the State educational agency file with the Secretary a plan,” “Each State plan shall demonstrate [to the federal agents]” – 1111(a)1 –
  • “If a State fails to meet any of the requirements of this section then the Secretary shall withhold funds” – 1111(g)
  • “The Secretary [federal] shall have the authority to disapprove a State plan” – 1111(e)2 D
  • “If a State makes significant changes to its State plan, such as the adoption of new State academic standards or new academic assessments, or adopts a new State accountability system, such information shall be submitted to the Secretary under subsection (e)(2) for approval.” – 1111 (f)
  • “If a State fails to meet any of the requirements of this section then the Secretary shall withhold funds” – 1111(g)

He voted for a bill that has zero privacy protections because it relies on the shot-full-of-holes FERPA:  “Information collected under this section shall be collected and disseminated in a manner that protects the privacy of individuals consistent with section 444 of the General Education Provisions Act and this Act.” – 1111(i) (For more on FERPA’s deliberate loosening (destruction) by the Dept. of Ed, see the E.P.I.C. lawsuit.)

He voted FOR a bill that creates unelected committees that have real power over state citizens who did not elect them. (And that uses the unelected groups to eliminate policies that don’t match federal policies)

  • “State rules, regulations, and policies… conform to… the committee of practitioners”
  • “Each State educational agency that receives funds under this title shall create a State committee of practitioners”

  • “Eliminate the rules and regulations that are duplicative of Federal requirements… identify any duplicative or contrasting requirements between the State and Federal rules or regulations; report any conflicting requirements to the Secretary… (1403)

He voted FOR a bill that extends federal tentacles and data collection to preschoolers.

  • “perform child-find screening services for the preschool-aged children of the tribe” – 5133 a
  • “assessment of  family-based, early childhood, and preschool programs for Native Hawaiians” – 5304 (c) 2
  • “evaluate the aggregate short- and long-term effects and cost efficiencies across Federal programs… under this Act and related Federal preschool, elementary, and secondary programs”  – 6601
  •  “improve the identification of homeless children (including preschool-aged homeless children and youths) ” – 702
  • “Coordinator for Education of Homeless Children and Youths established in each State shall— gather and make publically available… comprehensive information on— the number of homeless children and youths identified… the nature and extent of the problems homeless children and youths have in gaining access to public preschool programs” – 702
  • collect data for and transmit to the Secretary, at such time and in such manner as the Secretary may require, a report containing information necessary to assess the educational needs of homeless children and youths within the State, including data necessary for the Secretary to fulfill the responsibilities… including teachers, special education personnel, administrators, and child development and preschool program personnel – 702

  • “Plans required:  … how the local educational agency will use funds under this subpart to support preschool programs”  – 1112

He voted FOR a bill that dictates uniformity and promote psychological profiling and federally-controlled test standards:

“Academic assessments… shall…  provide coherent and timely information about student attainment of such standards… be consistent with… nationally recognized… technical standards… be administered in each of grades 3 through 8 and at least once in grades 9 through 12… in the case of science, be administered not less than one time during—grades 3 through 5;  grades 6 through 9; and in the case of any other subject chosen by the State, be administered at the discretion of the State; measure individual student academic proficiency and, at the State’s discretion, growth…  be administered through multiple assessments during the course of the academic year that result in a single summative score that provides valid, reliable, and transparent information on student achievement … enable results to be disaggregated… be administered to not less than 95 percent of all students, and not less than 95 percent of each subgroup of students described in paragraph (3)(B)(ii)(II); and be the same academic assessments used to measure the academic achievement of all public school students… provide for— the participation in such assessments of all students… produce individual student interpretive, descriptive, and diagnostic reports regarding achievement on such assessments in … uniform format…” –1111

(To see the Dept. of Education’s aligned recommendation that schools engage in psychological and biometric profiling, read its report here, especially page 44.)

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Voting for such a bill is not okay with me.

Federal HR5 Down: Ten Things to Watch for in New ESEA Reauthorization Bill and SETRA   1 comment

american mom

 

Last week bipartisan grassroots Americans saw a miracle.

That wolf in sheep’s clothing, the (supposed) shoo-in bill called federal HR5 or The Student Success Act, which was to reauthorize No Child Left Behind/ESEA, was thrown aside  by Congress instead of becoming law.  Thanks to a bipartisan effort by grassroots citizens and vigilant Congressmen who studied the language inside the bill’s 600+ pages –not just buying Speaker Boehner’s gilded talking points— the dangers of HR5 surfaced into Congressional consciousness.

A whirlwind of amendment-writing began on both sides of the aisle.  By the time Congress gave up on trying to pass HR5 last week, there were so many amendments from both Democratic and Republican members of Congress that everybody seemed to dislike the bill and Obama was threatening to veto.

That was a very unexpected turn of events.  –But proper!  Emmett McGroarty of American Principles in Action summarized the problems of NCLB and HR5: “HR5 demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of the Constitution and our constitutional structure. Although it relieves the states from some NCLB burdens, it then adds others and overall sets the stage for an expanded federal footprint in our lives.

Additionally, a powerful open letter from a bipartisan group of over 2,000 educational researchers (See letter here) last month informed Congress that  “testing should not be driving reform.

The 2000 educational researchers who signed  last month’s letter saw as harmful the federal aim “to use students’ test scores as a lever to drive educational improvement.” They explained: “This use of testing is ill-advised because… it has demonstrably failed to achieve its intended goal and has potent negative, unintended consequences.”  Under No Child Left Behind/ESEA, they said, the federal government had trusted “an unproven but ambitious belief that if we test children and hold educators responsible for improving test scores we would have almost everyone scoring as “proficient” by 2014.”  The researchers said: “there is no evidence that any test score increases represent the broader learning increases…  While testing advocates proclaim that testing drives student learning, they resist evidence-based explanations for why, after two decades of test-driven accountability, these reforms have yielded such unimpressive results.”

For many, the bottom line problem with both ESEA and HR5 was the ongoing, evidence-less promotion of student high-stakes testing as the solution for education problems.  For others, the bottom line problem (in HR5) was language implying conditionality of parental rights, possible waiving of states’ rights, and federal/state intrusion into private schools, particularly into private schools’ free exercise of religious freedom.  

With so many heavy, bipartisan issues rolled into ESEA, we can expect that the upcoming bipartisan version of the bill will be plagued with the same struggles we saw in last week’s HR5.  These must be identified and fought:

 

 

#1 Clarity problems: deliberately lengthy language that scatters definitions across hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pages and convoluted language that confuses most readers;

#2 A continued push for testing and data mining that pushes away from local (school or district) accountability toward centralized power; multi-state alignment (de facto national) high stakes testing and data collection that enriches corporations partnered with or funded by Bill Gates/Microsoft and Pearson.

#3  A push for centralization of power –with the elites comprised of corporate and governmental partnerships to exclude voters, teachers, parents and duly elected representatives;

#4 No privacy protections beyond the lame and wilted FERPA for our children; instead, increased data collecting powers to corporate-governmental partnerships;

#5  A continued push for more unelected boards to have increased control of greater numbers of schools via charter school expansions;

#6 A continued push for federal-corporate intrusion into private schools;

#7 A continued bartering for parental and states’ rights in trade for federal money;

#8 An assumption of federal-corporate “research” authority –devoid of parental consent and devoid of evidence-based, peer-reviewed validity;

#9  Expansion of centralized authority over specified groups, such as “migratory students” or “Alaskan Natives”; in sum:

#10 A continued disregard for Constitutional rights.

 

Please watch not only the ESEA/NCLB reauthorization, but also the S.227 SETRA bill.  They go hand in hand.

Federal SETRA  hurts student data privacy, allows emotional testing in increased student data mining, and reassigns grant-making (funding) control to REL regions, not states.  Read SETRA bill text here.

It appeared to me that HR5 got away with its marketing (saying it was restoring local control) because it transmitted federally-desired, test-driven reforms and other expansions to state authority and to state enforcement, perhaps to appease local control activists.  But this was just passing the abuse baton.  I imagine the corporate-regional power grabbers singing the “Na-nee-na-nee-boo-boo” song:  “You don’t get the steering wheel.  Constitution Constasmooshen. Who’s got your taxes?”

(Important note: in the coming SETRA bill, fund-approving power is siphoned past the states to REL regional authorities, making Constitutional state-rights less and less relevant.)

These power-reassignments are not appealing to those who want true local control.

Pray that our Congressmen find time, energy and wisdom to see through it all and that they will have the courage to protect children’s rights, teacher’s rights, voters’ rights, and parent’s rights.

 

american mom field

 

 

 

The Blast Radius of Proposed New “No Child Left Behind” Bill   36 comments

lamar

Senator “Let’s-Don’t-Talk-About-Common-Core” LaMar Alexander  has proposed a bill to amend  ESEA (No Child Left Behind Act) in order “to restore freedom”. The bill is called the “Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015“.

I read the 387-pager after I learned that education experts, slated to testify against the bill, had abruptly been dismissed and were told that the bill had been “fast-tracked,” so there wouldn’t be time for them to speak.  —No time to hear testimony and debate about a historic, child-impacting bill?

I read this bill with these six facts and questions in mind:

Fact 1. There’s a  de facto federal database composed of fifty individual databases with interoperable State Longitudinal Database Systems.   These  feed on the federal school testing/data collecting system, and feed different federal databases and their powerful branches.  This clearly violates “consent of the governed” because nobody can opt out.

QUESTION 1:  Would LaMar’s bill restore “consent of the governed” to education and to student data mining?

Fact 2. There’s a federal testing system comprised of Common Core aligned, synchronized testing partnerships: PARCC, SBAC, and AIR.  This violates Constitutional separation of powers since the federal government has no business in state-directed educational affairs such as testing.

QUESTION 2: Would LaMar’s bill restore separation of powers and deny federal supervision of school tests?

Fact 3. There’s a corporate cartel of educational technology and text sellers  (Pearson Inc, partnered with Gates/Microsoft, etc) advising the federal testing system.  This violates the Constitutional principle of agency; individuals and states are coerced to use certain corporations’ products with federal approval.

QUESTION 3: Would LaMar’s bill restore a diverse exchange of academic ideas to the American textbook and technology market?

Fact 4.  The corporate cartel  finances the private groups that created and copyrighted the common education and the common data tags  programs.  Federal approval of such financing and implementation is clear by the official partnering of the U.S. Dept. of Education with the private creator-copyrighter groups.   That violates consent of the governed, too.

QUESTION 4: Would LaMar’s bill create fairness and freedom for non-Common Core aligned education providers? 

Fact 5.  Because Common Core standards are copyrighted, states (voters, teachers, you and I) don’t get to vote on them.  There’s no amendment process for any state to alter Common Core Standards nor the Common Education Data System (CEDS).  Federal promotion and partnershipping with those who copyrighted nonamendable standards, violates states’ rights and consent of the governed.

QUESTION 5: Would LaMar’s bill move us away from these chokehold national standards and restore individual agency?

Fact 6. Both Republican and Democratic politicians are hacking at the limbs of the Constitution openly, aiming to phase out the authority of the states  and of parents regarding educational authority, privacy and other issues.  Aiming to “phase out the authority of states” is blatantly unconstitutional.

QUESTION 6: Would LaMar’s bill stop the Department of Education’s agenda to “phase out state authority”?

Now, to the bill.

———–

I knew from page one that this was going to be a big, fat two-tongued document because the bill’s purpose statement:  “to restore freedom” conflicts with its own title: “The Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015“.

This bill by its title and throughout its text cements the Common Core Initiative into federal law without once using the term “Common Core”. How?

Did you know that the phrase College and Career Ready has been repeatedly, federally and corporationally defined in multiple places as only Common Core. (See College and Career Ready definition: the Dept. of Education defines college and career ready standards as “standards common to a significant number of states.”  There is one thing that meets that definition.  Anytime you see “college and career ready,” run; it equals only the Common Core.

Can a bill claim to restore freedom while it promotes the exact, synonymous term that takes freedom in education away?

 

 

screen lamar two

On page three I found red flag #2:   “Close the achievement gap between high and low performing children“.  It’s another way of saying “everyone has to be the same at any cost– even at the price of slowing or dumbing down high achievers.”  Posing as fairness, it’s precisely the opposite, as nonsensical as the Handicapper General in Harrison Bergeron.  ( The funny, tragic short story of Harrison Bergeron is online if you haven’t read it.)

The bill explains how money must be allocated to ensure that the achievement gap-closing happens.  The Harrison Bergeron-ian “fairness” will be enforced with (our) tax dollars in federally set ways.

On page 8 we learn:  States will have to create a peer review board with the purpose of promoting “effective implementation of the challenging State academic standards“.  A mandated review board will promote implementation of Common Core, the very thing so many hope to eradicate.  Note the slickness:  later on the same page, it says:  “with the goal of supporting State- and local-led innovation”.  It’s pleasant sounding, but it’s a lie; one can’t support local innovation while implementing centrally controlled, Common Core standards on a federally mandated review board.

I already don’t want to read the rest of the 379 pages.  I’m only on page 8.

Next is a section called “State Plan Determination, Demonstration and Revision” which makes me wonder: why should states demonstrate to the federal government, when education is not in federal jurisdiction?  (Calling for “accountability” without authority to make that call should always raise eyebrows. I’m envisioning Emperor Arne being fed grapes while the Constitution is being used as bird cage liner.) This gets worse when the bill says that the Secretary of Education can decline to approve a State plan  (pages 8 and 9) and that the Secretary of Education would withhold funds from states who don’t comply. (page 12)   This is clearly out of harmony with the bill’s stated purpose “to restore freedom” as well as being out of harmony with the U.S. Constitution.

Page 13:  The same standards have to be used throughout the entire state.  They have to be aligned with state college standards.  (They can’t be lower, but they can’t be any higher, either, than the worst of any state college.  They can’t align with any unusually high private university standards.) This control freakishness –and this obvious dumbing down, may succeed in closing that achievement gap but only by harming high achievers, it seems to me.

Page 16:  In complete contradiction to pages 8 and 9, this section says that the Secretary has no authority to supervise or direct state standards.

Page 17:  Here we go with the assessments.  Every state must use standardized tests aligned to the college-and-career-ready standards (Common).

Page 20:  Here we go with the data collecting:  tests must “produce individual student interpretive, descriptive, and diagnostic reports… include information regarding achievement on assessments… provided…  in an understandable and uniform format” [meaning, I am sure: Common Educational Data Standards and SIF interoperability formats, which preclude strong privacy protection].

The data collected must be disaggregated, says the bill, by state and by school using these factors:  gender, economic status, race, ethnicity, English proficiency, disability, migratory status, etc., but will not be personally identifiable.  (Hmm.  On page 20 they just said tests must report on “individual interpretive, descriptive and diagnostic reports.” How is that not personally identifiable?)

On page 34 I’m troubled by this:  “achievement gaps between each category of students described“.  So they will divide and label student achievement groups by race, by gender, by ability, by economic status, etc. to further identify groups.

On page 35 the bill identifies schools that must be “turned around”.

On page 37 the state assures the federal government that it will participate in the NAEP test for 4th and 8th graders.

On page 39 the bill mandates uniform state report cards.

On page 54 the “Local Educational Agency Plan” mandates identifying students and identifying achievement gaps.  The plan also funds HeadStart or other government preschools.

Page 66 tells states how they have to spend any unused money.

Page 89 gives priority to low achievers.

Page 92-96 discusses private schools and how Title I funds will follow the low income child.  Where funding goes, strings are attached and mandates (i.e., data mining and government tests) follow.  Title I funds  look like the way Common Core aims to infiltrate charter schools and private schools.

Page 99:  Grants for Common Tests:  The Secretary of Education will give grants to pay for tests and standards, if the states are working in partnership with other states.

Page 101:  Summative, interim and formative tests will be developed or improved.  (More Common Core testing, more frequently, and more in disguise–as practice or as assignments, rather than traditional end of the year summative tests.)

Page 111:  “At risk” students will be indentified, intervened, and reported.

Page 117:  If there is failure to reach consensus, the Secretary of Education is empowered to act on his own with the “alternative process” that “if Secretary determines that a negotiated rulemaking process is unnecessary...” he simply tells Congress (not asks, tells) –and then he does his own thing, allowing for public comment afterward, and then, finally, makes it an official regulation.   I hope people are reading this.

Page 135:  Here the states are told the conditions by which they will make subgrants to schools and to teachers.

Page 145:  This fulfils Arne Duncan’s dream of replacing family with school as the centerpiece of life and community,  “providing programs that…extend the school day, school week, or school year calendar.”   Remember what the Secretary Duncan said in his Charlie Rose interview?  This is his one minute video:

Page 153:  “Secretary may waive” requirements.  So this may be a Congressionally vetted law, but it’s more of a suggestion than a hard and fast law, always subject to the whims of the Secretary.  This is repeated on page 224:  “The Secretary may waive any statutory or regulatory requirement… with respect to charter schools.. if.. Secretary determines that granting such a waiver will promote the purposes...”

Page 163:  Grant recipients must provide data to the federal Secretary of Education.

Page 226:  On Charter Schools:  “support the opening of… replication of… charter schools… expansion of high quality charter schools”.

Page 229:  “A description of how the State will actively monitor and hold authorized public chartering agencies accountable… including… revoking the authority of an authorized chartering agency based on the performance of the charter school… in areas of student achievement… and compliance”.

Page 249:  The Secretary of Education can take money out of the charter school’s reserve account if the grant wasn’t used in “carrying out the purposes” of the Secretary.

[On and on and on the bill rambles about charter school expansion and federal controls on the charter schools.  Endless pages are devoted to charter schools.  Why the increased interest of the federal government in supporting charter schools?  Because charter schools don’t have elected school boards.  The ruling bodies of charter schools are appointed, not elected.  In some places, philanthropists and huge corporations are administering charter schools –with zero accountability to any parent or any voter.  This is education without representation!  This is why the Obama Administration is pushing to identify and “turn around” “low performing” public schools and turn them into voter-untouchable institutions of the cartels and governments who benefit from that kind of power.]  I happen to have one child who attends a charter school and I know from personal experience that the board is under no obligation to listen to any parent, and no parent can vote a board member out.  You’re just lucky if the board happens to be made of people with whom you share values and goals for children.]

Page 268 talks about using magnet schools to desegregate “students of different racial backgrounds”.  I don’t agree with redistribution by government force of anything– not money, not teachers, not not principals, not standards, and not students of different races.   But the Department of education does.

Page 276 “State Innovation and Flexibility“: think about the way that title rations liberty.  What would the founding fathers say about the federal government creating a document with a section heading titled like that?  States are allowed to have some innovation?  Some flexibility?  Those are sub-particles of a rationed freedom, not freedom at all.

Page 297: “Indian, Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native Education” – This part has me confused.  Someone please comment below if you understand it.  Why would the federal government spend pages and pages and pages outlining different rules for these specific minority groups?  Not just a few— a LOT of pages.

Page 369:  “Participation by private school children and teachers” – By definition, private school children and their teachers are to be left completely alone by the government; that’s what private means.    Why is this federal law taking the effort and time to mention them?  If, according to page 92, the Title One funds follow the private school child to his/her school, then the government will be taking reports, data mining, and putting out mandates as well.

The answer to each of my six questions, from the top,  is “no”.

The stated purpose of the bill is “to restore freedom”.  Does this happen? No.

The bill –without even using the term “Common Core” a single time, works to cement Common Core.  It supports more common tests and emboldens the collectors of both academic and nonacademic personal student data (without parental consent), will intrude on private schools; and decreases representative school decision making by replacing a large number of public schools with no-elected-board, no-vote-allowed, charter schools; all under the banner of equitably meeting student needs and “closing an achievement gap.”

Please do something positive:  tell your senators and reps to help push an actual freedom-granting bill in education.

I learned with gratitude today from Utah’s Mia Love  that she is working with Rep. Joe Wilson on a bill “to allow states to opt out of Common Core without being penalized.”  Support Mia Love.  Write to her.  Rep. Wilson, too.  Please call other Congressmen and ask them to work with her and support her.

David Vitters’ bill, too,  sounds a thousand times more honest than Alexander’s ESEA “Every Child College and Career Ready Act of 2015”.

Vitters’ bill (S73) is “A bill to prohibit the Federal Government from mandating, incentivizing, or coercing States to adopt the Common Core State Standards or any other specific academic standards, instructional content, curricula, assessments, or programs of instruction.”  https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/s73 )

—But LaMar Alexander’s ESEA?  No.

Video and Photos: Utah Protesters Outside State School Board Meeting   3 comments

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Yesterday, Utah’s Stop Common Core folks followed the example of Oklahoma and Maine, wearing grass-green T-shirts for a protest held in Salt Lake City outside the offices of the Utah State School Board.

Trucks honked, kids danced, families waved signs. Honestly, it was fun.   A teenage protester (who was dancing with his “My Education is Not Your Experiment” sign) said he thought we were “pretty amateur protesters”.  We are!  Next time, we need soap boxes, megaphones for the cheerleaders, and a lot more people.

Two thousand people had signed the letter asking the board not to renew the federal waiver, in just 24 hours.  But they didn’t all show up in person at the protest.  Neither did the almost 12,000 people who have signed the Utahns Against Common Core petition.

Still, so many green shirts packed the public meeting of the board after the protest  that two hallways outside the meeting were filled with green shirts, as well as the whole board room being filled and encircled by standing green shirts who could not find seats.  The testimonies were incredible.  Anyone without an already hardened heart would have been moved.  I wish I could give you a link to hear what was spoken.

The vote didn’t go our way.   The board signed the federal waiver that further cemented Utah to Common Core and continued the  illusion (a bluff by the federal Dept. of Ed) that there is any authority for D.C. to tell Utah what to do in our schools.

Continuing Utah’s relationship with the federal waiver means that we are two steps away from removing Common Core, rather than just one.  (This is because in order to get the federal waiver, Utah had to promise to do option A (common core) or option B (the also-unacceptable, unconstitutional  delegation  of state board authority to higher ed authorities).

A few board members had tried to sway the vote:  Jeff Moss and Heather Groom, and possibly one or two others.  We appreciate their efforts.  But except for adding some language that affirmed the board’s wish to be sovereign over Utah’s standards, the waiver application got signed and sent to D.C. without hearing the parents and teachers who pleaded and testified against this move.

If you still don’t know who’s right and who’s wrong on this issue, consider the motivations and rewards of those who are asking for renewal of the federal waiver and Common Core, verus those who are asking for cessation of the federal waiver and Common Core.  It’s pretty revealing to note that the letter to the board from Utah’s Chamber of Commerce members, favoring federal waiver renewal, was authored by Rich Kendall (the governor’s appointee to supposedly study whether Common Core is good or not) –who is a Gates grant recipient as an Education First member, and who is also a Common Core advocate as a Prosperity 2020 leading member.  Remember that Gates is THE main financier of the whole Common Core and Common Data agenda.   How can Rich Kendall be both an advocate for, and an impartial judge of Common Core?  How can business people, directly making money from the implementation of Common Core, pretend to be objective in this discussion?  How can the state school board take these people as credible witnesses?

There’s always the chance that D.C. will reject Utah’s waiver application as it did Washington’s.  Then we’ll only be one step away from the possible removal of Common Core.

 

 

 

More articles, videos and photos of yesterday’s protest and the school board’s vote:

SALT LAKE TRIBUNE – http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/58276195-78/utah-waiver-board-state.html.csp

FOX NEWS – http://fox13now.com/2014/08/08/common-core-under-fire-at-utah-state-board-of-education-meeting/

DESERET NEWS – http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865608431/State-School-Board-approves-extension-of-NCLB-waiver.html

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