Browsing articles in "Federal Education"
Jul 31, 2011

Great Thompson and Garofalo Statements on MELF’s Improper Actions

Senator Dave Thompson, Assistant Majority Leader and member of the Senate Education Committee, and Rep. Pat Garofalo, Chairman of the House Education Finance Committee have responded forcefully and correctly to the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation’s (MELF) efforts to pressure Governor Dayton to unilaterally and unconstitutionally implement the Parent Aware quality rating system statewide as we warned you on  July 29th.

Senator Thompson describes the actions of  MELF and its executive director Duane Benson as improper in no uncertain terms.   Here is the senator’s excellent statement obtained by Education Liberty Watch:

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May 12, 2011

Imposing a Federal Curriculum on Private Schools – Why Voucher Programs that Require State Tests Are So Dangerous

On May 9th, a group of academics, think tank leaders and policy makers led by Bill Evers of the Hoover Institution, Sandra Stotsky and Jay Greene of the University of Arkansas and others, who have long seen the dangers of a federal curriculum, released a 100+ signatory counter-manifesto to the Shanker Institute and US Department of Education’s efforts to combine national curriculum guidelines and national tests with the Common Core National Standards already being implemented through the Obama administration’s Race to the Top initiative.

Along with many distinguished groups and policy makers at the state and federal levels, Education Liberty Watch has the honor of being one of the original signatories to this excellent document.  The consortium’s press release discusses the problems and lack of need for these brazen moves to nationalize standards, curriculum, and tests:

  • These efforts are against federal law and undermine the constitutional balance between national and state authority.
  • The evidence doesn’t show a need for national curriculum or a national test for all students.
  • U.S. Department of Education is basing its initiative on inadequate content standards.
  • There is no research-based consensus on what is the best curricular approach to each subject.
  • There is not even consensus on whether a single “best curricular approach” for all students exists.

As is proper, the first and greatest concern listed is the legal/constitutional issue.   This is enormously important, because the U.S. Constitution is silent on the matter of education.  Yet the federal role in education is growing larger by the year. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, currently known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has the federal government interfering in and setting state and local education policy in a myriad of ways. One good provision in NCLB, however, prohibits federal interference in curriculum.

NCLB is awaiting reauthorization.  The Obama administration/s blueprint for that reauthorization includes requiring that states implement national “college and career” ready standards in order to receive funds under this law.  No one seems to be noticing that federal funding of these standards is a significant violation of that prohibition on federal interference with curriculum as is the federal DOE and Shanker Institute’s effort to develop national curriculum guidelines.

Now thanks to the Race to the Top program’s bribery/thuggery of dangling billions of deficit dollars from the worthless stimulus program paid for with a maxed out credit card to cash starved states to “voluntarily” accept unconstitutional, lowest common denominator national standards and federal control of education, 43-1/2 states and D.C. are implementing these national standards in their states.  (Putative conservative former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s education department adopted the English language arts standards, described by curriculum and standards expert Dr. Sandra Stotsky as “content and culture free,” but was at least wise enough to decline the math standards.)

Yet, these national standards are now or are becoming the basis for the state tests that private schools or low income families that accept vouchers must take.  Hence, not only are public school systems ceding their constitutional authority to determine curriculum in order to try to gain a paltry amount of federal money that if they receive it, will likely not continue, but now the private schools that want to offer poor students a refuge from the academic failure of public schools must give these state tests and only these state tests, which are now based on the national standards.

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Mar 24, 2011

Standards Testimony

  • 3/16/11 – Dr. Effrem testified before the Senate Education Committee in strong support of SF 622 to prohibit adoption of the common core national standards without legislative approval.  Audio is available here by following the link for the March 16th education hearing here starting at 39:50..
Nov 19, 2010

Education in the Lame Duck Congress

The US Congress is back in session to deal with the federal budget and decide the fate of the Bush tax cuts, both of which the Democrats in control were too afraid to tackle before the election.  According to EdWatch’s congressional sources, what will happen with the federal budget is anyone’s guess.  There are three main possibilities.

  1. Continuing Resolution (CR) – This would continue spending at current levels until some specified time in the future, probably leaving the thorny budget issues for the next Congress to solve.  Republicans would like that because it would then leave them free to enact the fiscal discipline for which they were elected. Given that the defeated House Democrat caucus would have to relinquish control early and actually vote for fiscal responsibility, this seems unlikely. The federal government is currently being funded by a CR, because the new fiscal year started on October 1st.  The current CR is set to expire on December 3rd.
  2. Passing Each Individual Budget Bills – Given that there are twelve such budget bills that often contain controversial amendments, that these bills are large and complex and comprise trillions of dollars of federal spending, and that Congress will adjourn this session two weeks after Thanksgiving week after not dealing with these bills for eleven months, we also see this possibility as farfetched.

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