Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Honey, When Did the Feds Take over the Kids’ School?
Honey, When Did the Feds Take over the Kids’ School?
By Neal McCluskey
This article appeared in The Detroit News on August 12, 2010.
There’s a revolution happening, and you probably don’t even know it. While you’ve been worrying about wars, spills and bailouts, Washington has been taking over your schools.
Already, more than 30 states, including Michigan, have capitulated to national mathematics and language arts standards, and several more are likely to do so. And amazingly, almost no one’s heard about it. But that’s exactly what standardizers, who know national standards’ fatal flaws, want.
The immediate impetus for this has been the “Race to the Top,” a federal competition for $4.35 billion in federal funds. Adopting standards created by something called the Common Core State Standards Initiative is crucial for states to compete.
Much more credit, though, goes to the No Child Left Behind Act, the reviled 2002 law that requires states to implement standards and tests, and progress toward full math and reading “proficiency” by 2014.
NCLB made seemingly tough “accountability” demands so that politicians could look uncompromising on bad schools. So the same politicians could appear to pay homage to local control, however, it left states to write their own standards, tests, and definitions of proficiency. The result predictably, has been low, but highly variable, state definitions of proficiency. It’s much easier to set low bars than push kids over high ones.
To remedy this, standardizers want to force states to use uniform, high standards. In the context of NCLB it makes some sense, and has likely muted criticism of the standards drive.
Unfortunately, there is another, much more disturbing reason that national standards have been flying under the radar: Stealth is essential for its proponents to succeed.
The last national standards push was in the 1990s, and it disintegrated almost the moment proposed federal standards were released. Everyone, it seemed, was paying attention, and every diverse American found something in the very detailed standards to hate.
Avoiding a similar fate explains why the CCSSI furnished only mathematics and language arts standards, and why the latter identify almost no specific works students must read. Math is relatively uncontroversial, as is English — if you don’t prescribe any actual readings.
The big problems are that focusing on just two subjects threatens to narrow the curriculum, while dodging essential reading threatens to hollow it out. Do more, though, and Americans might have something of substance to grab onto.
The second key to keeping things hush-hush has been to deceive the public about what — and who — is driving the standards. Contrary to proponents’ incessant refrain, standardization has been neither “state led” nor “voluntary,” and it’s the heavy hand of the super-unpopular federal government that’s shoving everything along.
While creation of the Common Core was spearheaded by associations of governors and state education chiefs, those groups do not represent individual states. Meanwhile, the National Conference of State Legislatures opposes national standards.
Of course, many state school boards have adopted the standards, but they might just be happily passing the standards buck. Much more importantly, thanks to Race to the Top and Obama administration plans to connect national standards to even bigger piles of money, adoption is no more “voluntary” than adhering to NCLB or the minimum drinking age. If states want federal dollars, which were taken from their citizens to begin with, they must do as they’re told.
Finally, to keep the public from grasping what’s happening, standardizers have rushed adoption of the Common Core standards. They were released on June 2, and Race to the Top required adoption just two months later.
The truth about national standards explains the need to evade serious scrutiny. Despite claims about needing national standards to compete in the world economy, or all countries that outperform us having national standards, the research reveals that, all else equal, countries with national standards do no better than those without. It also reveals that the freer the education system, the better.
It’s not hard to understand why. Government schooling is almost always controlled by the people it employs because they are the most motivated to be involved in education politics. And like most people, they would prefer as little outside accountability as possible. Conversely, more freedom means more competition, and that means real accountability — answering to customers — as well as constant innovation.
So why are national curriculum standards the biggest federal takeover you’ve never heard of? Because they need silence to survive. And here’s another big secret: Unless we do something now, national tests are coming next.
No Child Left Behind Act
Margaret Spellings was the architect for the No Child Left Behind Act, the secretary for the U.S. Department of Education, is the president of the George W. Bush Foundation, the president of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the commissioner for the Leading Education by Advancing Digital Commission, and the U.S. program advisory panel member for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Note: John A. Boehner was a sponsor for the No Child Left Behind Act, is the speaker for the U.S. House of Representatives, and a member of the Burning Tree Club.
Jack Valenti was a member of the Burning Tree Club, and a trustee at the Aspen Institute (think tank).
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was a funder for the Aspen Institute (think tank), and the Brookings Institution (think tank).
Foundation to Promote Open Society was a funder for the Aspen Institute (think tank), the Brookings Institution (think tank), and Demos.
George Soros was the chairman for the Foundation to Promote Open Society, and a contributor for the American Bridge 21st Century.
Frederic V. Malek is a trustee at the Aspen Institute (think tank), the founder & board member for the American Action Network, and a member of the Alfalfa Club.
Hispanic Leadership Network is an offshoot of the American Action Network.
Jeb Bush is an advisory committee member for the Hispanic Leadership Network, a member of the Alfalfa Club, a supporter for the Common Core educational standards, George W. Bush’s brother, and George H.W. Bush’s son.
George W. Bush is Jeb Bush’s brother, married to Laura Bush, George H.W. Bush’s son, and a member of the Alfalfa Club.
Laura Bush is married to George W. Bush, a director at the George W. Bush Foundation, a director at the George W. Bush Presidential Center, and a trustee at the Southern Methodist University.
George H.W. Bush is Jeb Bush & George W. Bush’s father, a member of the Alfalfa Club, and a member of the Burning Tree Club.
John A. Boehner is a member of the Burning Tree Club, the speaker for the U.S. House of Representatives, and was a sponsor for the No Child Left Behind Act.
Alan D. Feld was a trustee at the Southern Methodist University, and is a partner at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, LLP.
Vernon E. Jordan Jr. is a senior counsel for Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, LLP, an honorary trustee at the Brookings Institution (think tank), Valerie B. Jarrett’s great uncle, a trustee at the Institute of International Education, a director at the American Friends of Bilderberg (think tank), and a 2008 Bilderberg conference participant (think tank).
Cyrus F. Freidheim Jr. is an honorary trustee at the Brookings Institution (think tank), and a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago.
Valerie B. Jarrett is a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago, the senior adviser for the Barack Obama administration, and her great uncle is Vernon E. Jordan Jr.
Lee C. Bollinger is a trustee at the Institute of International Education, and a commissioner for the Leading Education by Advancing Digital Commission.
Margaret Spellings is a commissioner for the Leading Education by Advancing Digital Commission, the president of the George W. Bush Foundation, the president of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the U.S. program advisory panel member for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was the secretary for the U.S. Department of Education, and the architect for the No Child Left Behind Act.
Race to the Top is a grant program from the U.S. Department of Education, and encourages the adoption of the Common Core educational standards.
Kevin Jennings was the assistant deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Education, and founder & executive director the founder & executive director for the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.
John I. Wilson is a director at the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, and was an executive director for the National Education Association.
Demos was a funder for the National Education Association.
American Bridge 21st Century was a contributor for the National Education Association.
Sandor Straus was a contributor for the American Bridge 21st Century, and is a trustee at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute.
Posted by Sam and Bunny Sewell at 11:50 PM