Tag: Common Core

We Must Stop the Federal Takeover of Education

Eagle Forum has worked hard to stop the federal takeover of education in this country–most recently by fighting the adoption of common core standards.  Some people argue that common standards are not a bad thing.  We frequently hear people say, “when a student moves from one state to another state, common standards ensure the student will not be off track with students in his new state.”

However, that’s not 100% accurate.  The only way to ensure students are all learning the same thing at the same time and that schools are interchangeable is to adopt a uniform national curriculum similar to what China has enacted.  This is dangerous for many reasons, but first and foremost because it allows the federal government to control what citizens know and learn.  Consider that the U.S. Constitution purposefully omitted public education, leaving that responsibility to the states or the people.  The Founding Fathers were aware of the dangers of centralization and did not trust the federal government with the supervision of education, believing local people knew their community and their children best.  That still holds true today.

Another area of concern with common core standards is the content.  Eagle Forum has fought for years in Alabama to ensure students had a solid, fact-based curriculum.  In the most recent round of Course of Study writing for Social Studies, Eagle Forum identified the following as missing from the standards:

  • Deletion of the Gregorian Calendar (B.C. and A. D.)
  • Leaves out Julius Caesar, the fall of the Roman empire, Plato, Socrates and Aristotle
  • De-emphasis on the history of Western Civilization that is essential to an appreciation of founding principles in the United States
  • Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, Scientific Revolution, Age of Exploration are all lumped into one standard in 8th grade.
  • Deletion of the Glorious Revolution in England
  • De-emphasis of the Greek and Roman civilizations – political, judicial, cultural
  • Deletion of Napoleon and the Napoleonic Wars

Fortunately, we were successful in addressing some of these issues before the State Board voted to adopt the course of study.  With the adoption of common core standards, these issues would all have to be fought at the federal level.  As anyone who has attempted to influence federal regulatory policy knows, it’s next to impossible to make a change.

For these reasons and more, Eagle Forum is opposing the adoption of the Common Core Standards Initiative.  If you want to help us stop the federal takeover of education, act now.

Keep Alabama Curriculum Decisions In Alabama

Who decides what Alabama students learn?

Alabama has operated for years with a state standards adoption process that facilitates input from parents, citizens and educators into what is taught in our classrooms. On November 18th the State Board of Education will be asked to change all that and adopt national standards, which are called Common Core State Standards, in Math and English/Language Arts. The Board will vote on whether to give away their authority to decide what is taught in Alabama classrooms and ultimately how it is tested and how it is taught.

Don’t let the feds grab control of Alabama education

The standards themselves are the product of working groups set up by the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers and other non-profits funded primarily by the Gates Foundation, but President Obama made it clear that his administration wants to force adoption.  On February 2/22/2010, he expressed his intent to require states to adopt national standards to receive Title I funds [See http://youtu.be/OKjkp724j6k].  Thankfully, Congressman John Kline (R-MN), who is expected to chair the House Education Committee in 2011, has stated that he will not authorize such a mandate. “The idea that academic standards would have to be federally approved … looks like national standards,” he said.

The adoption of these standards by a majority of states has been incentivized by $4billion of federal grant money (Race to the Top), for which Alabama applied and was turned down.  Assessments based on these standards are being written by two consortia which are funded by $330 million in federal money.  What the federal government funds, it controls.

Keep Alabama Curriculum Decisions in Alabama

According to the Alabama Department of Education, our standards are well over 90% in agreement with the national standards.  But such curriculum content experts as Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. Jim Milgram call the CC standards “mediocre” and not college ready standards. Why should we adopt the national standards unless we are also going to submit to national assessments, too?  The assessments will not be ready until 2014 and are expected to guide everything from teachers’ lesson plans to final exams. “Parents and the public will see their ability to influence education policies at the local level disappear, most likely forever.” [See http://bit.ly/cppnlE]

Please contact Governor Riley and your State Board of Education Member today to ask them to vote NO on adoption of Common Core Standards on November 18th.  (Contact information for the State Board)

“The decades-long drive by various administration to federalize education, which seems to be hitting its peak under President Obama’s effort to require national standards, is wrong-headed for a myriad of empirical and governance reasons.  It is likely to be a costly failure, with the cost measured not just in terms of dollars, but in the wasted lives of our children.”  [See http://bit.ly/cppnlE]

Take Action:

Contact Governor Bentley and your State Board of Education member and ask them to oppose the adoption of Common Core Standards.  You can find contact information here.

For More Information:

“Washington Doesn’t Know Best: The Perils of Federal Control of Education”
October, 2010, Pacific Research Institute, Lance Izumi, J.D. http://bit.ly/cppnlE

The “Common Core” Standards Initiative:  An Effective Reform Tool?
William J. Mathis  July 21, 2010  EPIC  http://bit.ly/aeAFjD

“National Standards Still Don’t Make The Grade”
Pioneer Institute White Paper http://bit.ly/cOPlqj

“Behind the Curtain: Assessing the Case for National Curriculum Standards”
The CATO Institute  http://bit.ly/9ecgJu

Texas Governor Rick Perry on the Danger of National Standards
The Heritage Foundation  http://bit.ly/cwu4R1

‘Waiting For Superman’ Not What We’ve Been Waiting For?

Neal McCluskey points out the producers of Waiting For Superman have their own agenda, beyond charter schools.

Unfortunately, Waiting for “Superman” doesn’t just seem to want to make people wait for good schools by promoting charter schools and not full choice. On its “take action” website, it prominently promotes the very opposite of parent empowerment: Uniform, government-imposed, national standards for every public school in America.

Rather than let parents access the best curriculum for their unique children, the Waiting for “Superman” folks want to give the federal government power. Of course, the website doesn’t say that Washington will control “common” standards, but make no mistake: Federal money has been driving the national standards train, and what Washington funds, it ultimately controls. And there is no better way to complete the public schooling monopoly — to let the teacher unions, administrator associations, and other adult interests do one-stop shopping for domination — than to centralize power in one place.

Common Core Standards For Public Schools: A Bad Idea

by Phyllis Schlafly

The No Child Left Behind Act, which allowed states to set their own public school standards for “proficiency,” is opposed and considered a failure by all factions in the education world. Therefore, we obviously should force all kids in every state to be held to uniform national standards of proficiency. Right?

No; wrong. But that bad idea is being aggressively promoted by the Obama Administration. The mailed fist in the velvet glove is the extraordinary river of taxpayers’ money used to force compliance.

Having taken over major parts of the banking industry, the mortgage industry, the auto industry, the college student-loan industry, and the health-care industry, the Obama Administration is now taking over the $600 billion public-school industry with taxpayers’ money from the Stimulus package. The White House concedes that “stimulus” is a negative word and avoids its use because it obviously didn’t stimulate jobs, but Stimulus dollars will stimulate the takeover of our children’s minds under Common Core Standards, the moniker for forcing national curriculum standards on all public schools.

Imposing common-core national standards sounds so alluring to those who look to the Obama Administration to solve all our problems. We would get rid of our messy, different 50-state variations of standards, and make our kids smarter by incentivizing them to aspire to a higher bar of achievement, make them all college-ready, enable them to rank higher on international tests, and enable them to better compete in the new global economy.

Au contraire. For starters, the imposition of national standards isn’t constitutional. Nothing in the U.S. Constitution authorizes the federal government to exercise any control over education, and this limitation is reinforced by a longstanding federal law that forbids the federal government “to mandate, direct, or control … school’s curriculum, program of instruction, or allocation of state or local resources.”

But the Obama Administration isn’t known for checking out its authority with the Constitution or the law. And control of public school curriculum is a very desirable prize for those who seek to control the future.

Even Jimmy Carter’s Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Joseph Califano admitted in 1977, “national control of curriculum is a form of national control of ideas.” The bait is use of our money, lots of it.

The Obama Administration plans to do an end-run around the Constitution and the federal law by tying the Common Core Standards to the granting or denying of federal appropriations, both the $4.35 billion Race To The Top money and even Title I funding. That effectively makes the Common Core Standards compulsory because state politicians are not likely to turn down billions of dollars.

So far, at least 36 states plus the District of Columbia have adopted Common Core Standards. Only Texas and Virginia have indicated reluctance to adopt.

Much of the argument for Common Core Standards is that our decentralized, 50-state control of curriculum is so unlike educational systems in most other countries, but so what! Americans honor our exceptionalism and our federalism, and we don’t want to be “fundamentally transformed” into European-style socialism.

Conclusions offered by the research into systems used in other countries are thin, unpersuasive and largely irrelevant to the United States. The countries cited have a long tradition of central government control plus a largely homogeneous culture, whereas the United States has a diverse population and strong traditions of parental authority, limited government, and state (not federal) control of education.

There is absolutely no assurance that parents or the public will approve the content of the proposed Common Core Standards. Many so-called education “experts” openly advocate imposing curriculum standards on content that parents find offensive, such as non-phonics in reading instruction and left-wing and feminist propaganda in social studies, and on methodology such as deliberately not teaching facts or basic arithmetic skills in order to emphasize creativity.

The better way to go is toward what is known as school choice, i.e., allowing parents to choose the school they want for their children, a.k.a. the free market in education. Private choice would sort out the curricula that do the job of making kids smart.

Children will never be adequately educated under a system run by bureaucrats handing out money and the teachers unions (the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers) spending the money in the classroom. The NEA and the AFT also have extraordinary millions of dollars extracted from their members to lobby for policies they want to have enacted by Congress, state legislatures and school boards and also to elect their favored political candidates.

The Federal Takeover of Education

Great article in the American Thinker on national education standards and the Common Core Standards Initiative.  Thanks to State School Board Member Betty Peters for prompting the writing of this piece.

The Federal Takeover of Education

by Bill Costello

Federal control over education has been growing since the 1960s despite the fact that the word education does not appear in the Constitution of the United States.

Now, as the current administration pushes for national education standards, federal control over education is about to expand considerably at the expense of state and local control.

Texas Eduation Commissioner Robert Scott described the push for national education standards as “a step toward a federal takeover of the nation’s public schools.”

A little more than a year ago, state leaders launched the Common Core State Standards Initiative to develop a common set of K-12 standards in English and math. The standards they developed, known as the Common Core, are the first and only common education standards.  Read More…