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  • Department of Education Gets Defensive on National Standards

    In a press release issued late Thursday afternoon, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the following in response to skepticism on the part of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) about the Common Core national standards push:

    The idea that the Common Core standards are nationally-imposed is a conspiracy theory in search of a conspiracy. The Common Core academic standards were both developed and adopted by the states, and they have widespread bipartisan support.

    The secretary’s defensive statement is telling: If the Common Core standards are truly state-led, it is curious that the Department of Education would be weighing in on an issue related to the education standards South Carolina will use. That Duncan has chosen to issue a public statement on South Carolina’s uneasiness about the Common Core push is an indication of just how heavily involved the federal government is with the effort, and the amount of control it stands to gain once states surrender standard-setting authority to Washington.

    And it’s not a conspiracy theory—as Duncan claims—if a confluence of evidence exists to support charges that these are national standards.

    The first indication of Washington’s deep involvement came with Race to the Top (RTT) in early 2009. RTT invited states to compete for $4.35 billion in a difficult budgetary climate and doled out grants to states that agreed to the Administration’s policy proposals. Notably, applications for RTT funding required states to describe how they would transform their standards and assessments to “college and career-ready” standards that were common to a significant number of states.

    By June 1, 2010, applicants had to submit “evidence of having adopted common standards.” While there was no explicit mention of the Common Core State Standards, the Common Core standards were the only standards that met the department’s criteria for commonality at the time and remain so today.

    In February 2010, Secretary Duncan told a group of governors that access to the nearly $15 billion in Title I funding for low-income school districts could be tied to the adoption of common standards under the Administration’s blueprint to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. And most recently, the Obama Administration began offering No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waivers to states that agreed to adopt standards in math and English language arts that are “common to a significant number of states” or have been “certified by a state network of institutions of higher education.”

    Race to the Top, the Administration’s blueprint to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Title I access, and NCLB waivers have left little doubt that the federal government has become heavily invested in the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

    A recent report from the Pioneer Institute found that the Administration’s support of the Common Core national standards push violates three federal laws: No Child Left Behind, the Department of Education Organization Act, and the General Education Provisions Act. Authors Bob Eitel and Kent Talbert (former deputy general counsel and general counsel at the Department of Education) conclude:

    Left unchallenged by Congress, these standards and assessments will ultimately direct the course of elementary and secondary study in most states across the nation, running the risk that states will become little more than administrative agents for a nationalized K-12 program of instruction…The Department has simply paid others to do that which it is forbidden to do.

    Pioneer has also just released a report showing that—to make matters worse—taxpayers in states that have agreed to adopt Common Core national standards will be on the hook for nearly $16 billion in new spending, cumulatively, in order to align state and local education systems to the new standards over the next seven years.

    Federal involvement in the Common Core national standards push is not some figment of the imagination. Billions in federal funding, strings-attached NCLB waivers, and significant rhetorical support clearly point to a nationalization of the content taught in local schools.

    South Carolina—and states across the country—are right to have pause about this latest federal overreach. And they shouldn’t be ridiculed by a federal agency that has already done plenty to centralize education spending and authority.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to Department of Education Gets Defensive on National Standards

    1. Tim Stewart says:

      There should not be a department of education. The Constitution makes it clear that education is the responsibility of the state. Of course, our government ignores the Constitution in so many things…

      • Pete says:

        The Constitution says the only responsibility of the Federal Government is to set aside a plot of land in each township. The states and the citizens of that state re to run the schools and curriculum. As usual, the federal have developed another Department (Education) that is not Constitutional.

    2. Concerned Educator says:

      You know… The only time we "Americans" don't want the federal government involved is when it is not funding. Personally, I think it is stupidity to continue to hurt American children by not having a commonality in schools. Obviously all the people who continue to harp on the evilness of Common Core State Standards have not taken the time to actually read them. Perhaps it is their own fear of knowing their schools are so poorly run that they protest. To borrow the words of the famous Shakespeare (which CCSS promotes as classical literature worthy of reading) "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." I am a Republican (or at least at the moment), and I fully support the implementation of CCSS based on their rigor and the ability to provide a framework for helping students success in their K-12 experience and enter the world College and Career Ready! What in the heck are the rest of you supporting?

      • Bobbie says:

        you're obviously uneducated in the American peoples constitution with no respect to learn it's true meaning and rather see it controlled and favored by the federal government the constitution protects us from and stays within our control. I think it's stupid that you would give your children up to the controls of unconstitutional government and call it a "hurt to American children" if you don't give into government controlled commonality/collectivism! You're barely American let alone republican! I'm sure "the moment" you're no longer republican will pass real soon!

    3. Pat Murray says:

      There must have been talking points sent out to CCSS proponents. When the Maine Education Committee was considering adoption, Dan Hupp a member of the MDOE and also the Maine Director of Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium made the following comment at one of the work sessions," Anyone who opposes Common Core Standards probably believes Elvis is still alive!"
      When things don't go their way, it's time to start name calling and demeaning those who oppose them. Mr Hupp also responded to a question from one of the committee members about the cost of adopting CCSS, "It won't cost anything, and if there are any costs they would be easily absorbed by the districts." A recent estimate puts the cost at $16B nationwide. Last time I checked Maine was part of this nation. So far the national media has been silent on any opposition of Common Core Standards, I think it will take a suit in Federal Court on constitutional grounds of overreach by the Federal Government to stop this run-a-way train. To everyone who continues to oppose CCSS and expose it for what it is, my hat is off to you.

    4. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      I don't know if we do, or don't, need national standards. In theory, it would be great if there were national standards, libertarians would see it differently.

    5. Stirling says:

      This is how "Indoctrination" into the political ideology starts in the youth of this country.. Which is why we can't allow the government to create "zombies" out of our children. We are not "Borg" (a collective) we are free "individuals" who need the critical thinking to tell the difference in the government propaganda v.s the truth. Standards are just a way to push people into the "one size fits all" mentallity (which is contrary to our nature).

    6. @lowellt3 says:

      abolish the Dept of Edu is the best answer .

    7. Bobbie says:

      there's no reason to get defensive where they don't belong. Like children not getting any desert!! Someone better put their foot down and either remove the unwilling to focus on their own job or discipline with reprimand. This is America's youth within the control of the abuse of government, the government is circling to swoop in for the swallow! Please protect America's youth!! This is no less than dangerous!!!!

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