Browsing articles in "Federal Education"
Sep 29, 2012

States Starting to Rebel Against Common Core

Although education has not been a front burner issue in this election cycle, there is some evidence that word about the dangers of and problems with the Common Core national standards, about which we have warned you for a long time, is slowly getting out.

In addition to Education Liberty Watch, the group of academics, policy makers and individuals that developed and gained over 100 original signatures on a counter-manifesto against the Common Core, The Cato Institute, The Heritage Foundation, Truth in American Education, teachers, parents, and policy makers are working hard to educate and to protest this loss of autonomy, local control and academic rigor.  Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, in interviews on Fox News and the Mike Huckabee show pointed out the constitutional and academic dangers of the Common Core in his new book Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities. In it, he said:

The core of the hard-left’s education agenda – a program shared by Obama, Ayers, and Darling-Hammond alike – has three parts: 1) a politicized curriculum that promotes leftist notions of “social justice,” 2) reducing “disparate outcomes” between students in different districts by undercutting standards, and 3) a redistribution of suburban education funding to less-well-off urban schools. Achieving these goals on a broad scale requires the federal government to usurp local control of K-12 schooling.

Obama is half-way there.

How did he do it?  Instead of submitting his controversial education proposals to Congress and kicking off a vigorous national debate, Obama quietly marked $4.35 billion of federal stimulus spending for his Race to the Top education initiative. Since the stimulus bill was rushed through Congress with barely any debate on economic policy, much less education, Obama never had to go public with his plans.

By coordinating with outside groups not accountable to the voters, like the deep-pocketed Gates Foundation, the White House then orchestrated the creation of a national Common Core of education standards, with an accompanying curriculum and tests.

Supposedly, these standards have been voluntarily adopted by more than 40 states. In fact, by effectively conditioning eligibility for Race to the Top grants on participation in the Common Core, the Obama administration has forced economically pinched states to surrender control of their school curricula to the federal government. Cleverly, states have been pressed to sign on to the Common Core before the actual standards, curricula, and tests are revealed in a second Obama term. The entire scheme is arguably both illegal and unconstitutional. Yet it is moving forward, and the public knows virtually nothing about it.

In addition, state legislators and governors are also starting to respond to this unconstitutional federal takeover of education curriculum. According to the states listed or not listed on this comprehensive review table by Daniel Thatcher of the National Conference of State Legislatures, the breakdown of how states are dealing with the Common Core is as follows:

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Apr 28, 2012

Urgent – Please Support Good Academic Standards in MN!

Most of the major education issues, both those followed by Education Liberty Watch and others pushed by various factions of the education community have concluded for the session. A full recap will follow in our end of the session update.  With regard to the issue of the administration’s unlawful use of the Parent Aware quality rating system in the early childhood scholarships about which we warned you in our last alert, we appreciate your involvement during the conference committee process.  You made a big difference.  Unfortunately, none of the language restoring parental choice and evenly dividing the funding between rural and metro programs survived.  But the GREAT news is that funding for the entire program for this year was cut in HALF to $2 million and a parent controlled home based literacy program that will show the lack of necessity for a QRS did survive.  This means that the next legislature can further cut or eliminate funding for this program if the governor continues to require the QRS without authority. Thank you!!

There is one very important remaining issue where your voice could still make a big difference.  We have told you about SF 1656, the bill that would require legislative approval before new academic standards revisions.  It is authored by Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) and Rep. Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton).  The Senate passed the bill way back on March 1st even with some DFL support.  After passing the House Education Reform Committee, it is awaiting floor action.  It is on the calendar for the day, but because of the huge push for a Vikings stadium and a bonding bill in the effort to adjourn by Monday, April 30th, it may not get heard.

This legislation is very important both to deal with preventing the cancerous spread of the Common Core Standards, as well as trying to fix, if at all possible, the absolutely awful revision of Minnesota’s academic social studies standards.

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Apr 2, 2012

MN Continues Fight Against Federal & Executive Overreach

Karen R. Effrem, MD – President


As the state and federal controversies increase over the unconstitutional and illegal requirements of the No Child Left behind waivers and the equally unconstitutional and illegal implementation of the Common Core Standards via federal funding and requirements, Minnesota legislators continue to step up to the plate.

The House Education Reform Committee passed the companion to the bill that we described in our recent alert, MN Takes Center Stage in Academic Standards Battle this Week. The House bill authored by Rep. Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton), chairwoman of the House Education Reform Committee, simply requires that there be approval by the people’s representatives in the legislature before the state department of education would adopt future Common Core Standards such as happened with the English language arts standards under the Pawlenty administration or the wholesale rewriting that is producing the very revisionist social studies standards being put in place by the Dayton administration. That bill passed the committee essentially on a party line voice vote (audio available here starting at about 27:28 with Dr. Effrem’s testimony at about 1:07 A written version of her similar recent Senate testimony is available here).

The other big development is the introduction of a bill, HF 2905 by Representative Bob Barrett (R-Schafer), and SF 2928 by Senators Sean Nienow (R-Cambridge) and David Hann (R-Eden Prairie), to require the commissioner of education to seek Minnesota’s own waiver to No Child Left Behind based on the state’s needs and laws. This would be in place of the illegal, unconstitutional, conditional and temporary waiver that Minnesota received from the Obama administration, one that among its other problems, in essence requires the Common Core Standards. This bill enjoyed wide bipartisan support during the 2008 legislative session when the Democrats were in control of the legislature and passed the House floor unanimously as an amendment by Rep. Carolyn Laine (DFL- Columbia Heights) to the education finance omnibus bill. Sadly, it was removed from the omnibus bill after a veto threat by then Governor Tim Pawlenty.

These bills are closely related and very important, not only in Minnesota but around the nation to the whole essence of state’s rights, separation of powers, the rule of law, and academic freedom. As Neil McCluskey of the Cato Institute correctly points out, although overshadowed by the health care reform debate at the US Supreme Court, these issues are analogous to and should be viewed as the “other, almost complete, federal takeover.” Continue reading »

Mar 3, 2012

MN Takes Center Stage in Academic Standards Battle this Week

Minnesota legislators played prominent roles this week in the battle to preserve academic liberty at both the state and federal levels. These pieces of legislation that passed the Minnesota Senate and the U.S. House Education and Workforce Committee respectively are very important for re-establishing constitutional authority, state sovereignty, and separation of powers, as well as protecting students from the imposition of an indoctrinating federal curriculum coerced with unconstitutional and borrowed federal dollars.

The Minnesota Senate passed a bill (SF 1656) authored by Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) that requires legislative approval before the implementation of academic standards. This is a variation of the bill that the legislature passed last year (audio of testimony available here for 3/16/11 starting at 39:50) prohibiting implementation of any current or future Common Core standards without legislative approval that was sadly vetoed by Governor Mark Dayton as part of the omnibus education finance bill and then dropped during special session negotiations.  The Common Core Standards have been rightly opposed by Education Liberty Watch and many other expert groups and individuals for a multitude of reasons including lack of constitutionality and legality, poor quality, lack of necessity and cost. (See our testimony submitted to the Senate on this bill).

The bill would have also allowed the legislature to weigh in on the horrifically revisionist, anti-academic, anti-American, pro-big government social studies standards revision that are being implemented by the very leftist members of the Dayton education department and the of the “Blame America First” crowd that resides in too much of the academic social studies community.

It is important to note that this bill passed unheralded after the Indiana Senate education committee voted down a bill to withdraw from the Common Core in part because they were too desperate to receive a waiver from Big Brothers Arne Duncan and the Obama administration on NCLB which essentially requires the Common Core in order to receive that waiver. It also occurred after the Obama administration excoriated and threatened the state of South Carolina for even considering exercising their sovereign right to withdraw from the supposedly voluntary Common Core Standards that are being imposed via bribery and blackmail with Race to the Top, Obama’s NCLB reauthorization plans and NCLB waivers. The South Carolina bill, supported by conservative heroine, Governor Nikki Haley, was voted down in a subcommittee of the Senate Education Committee. The bill will still be reviewed by the full Senate Education Committee. Continue reading »