No Child Left Behind Rewrite Bill Update: Today is Crucial

Photo credit: UpstateNYer (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Photo credit: UpstateNYer (CC-By-SA 3.0)

I wanted to give you an update on the happenings surrounding ESEA reauthorizations.

First, remember that action is still needed. Call your U.S. Senators and your U.S. Representative by calling (202) 224-3121.

Yesterday “debate” (if you can really call it that) on S.1177 ended when the Senate adjourned after 6p (ET). They will gavel in at 10:00a (ET) and vote on amendments to the Every Child Achieves Act.  I haven’t seen all of the amendments.  U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska) will offer an amendment that she said during debate will guarantee more local control.  I haven’t looked at it so I don’t know how strong it is.

I heard that U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) will offer an amendment that will add A-PLUS language to the bill, which would block grant ESEA money to the states.  Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation offered a report in 2013 on how A-PLUS can rein in the Fed’s education power grab.  Is it ideal? Well, no, no federal education bill is ideal.  Having A-PLUS language added to S.1177 would be the next best scenario from having the bill killed (well, third best… the best bill would be the one repealing ESEA altogether).

Also, I already gave her a shout-out on social media, but do check out and share Joy Pullmann’s piece on the Every Child Achieves Act over at The Federalist.  Also be to check out American Principles in Action’s breakdown of this awful bill.

Also in the legislative grapevine the House NCLB rewrite, The Student Success Act (H.R. 5), will be voted on today at either 1:30p or 4:30p (ET).  Via an email sent out from the House Rules Committee here are the amendments that will be offered.  Be sure to check out American Principles in Action’s analysis of this bill.

These are new amendments:

6 Version 2 Walker (NC),DeSantis (FL) Republican Revised Adds A-PLUS, which would send funding back to states in the form of block grants, giving states the ability to direct the funding to any education purpose under state law.
129 Version 1 Salmon, (AZ), Republican Late Allows parents to opt their student out of the testing required under this bill and exempts schools from including students that have opted out in the schools’ participation requirements.
132 Version 1 Polis (CO) Democrat Late Requires states to have college- and career-ready standards and set performance, growth, and graduation rate targets for all student subgroups.  The amendment also includes performance targets for English Language Learners and students with disabilities
134 Version1 Rokita (IN),Grothman (WI) Republican Late Sets the authorization from fiscal year 2016 through 2019

These are amendments that have been debated, but still need a vote.

# Version Sponsor(s) Party Summary
2 Version 1 Thompson, Bennie (MS) Democrat Requires that The Student Success Act shall not go into effect until the Secretary of Education determines that its enactment will not reduce the college and career readiness of racial or ethnic minority students, students with disabilities, English learners, and low-income students and provides written notification to Congress on such determination.
8 Version 1 Grayson (FL) Democrat Requires the Secretary of Education to conduct an assessment of the impact of school start times on student health, well-being, and performance.
23 Version 2 Scott, Bobby (VA) Democrat SUBSTITUTE Revised This amendment repeals H.R 5 and replaces the bill text with a substitute amendment that provides robust funding levels, replaces the outdated, rigid mandates of No Child Left Behind, and maintains civil rights and equity protections that ensure all students graduate from high school college- and career-ready.
24 Version 1 Meng (NY)and Polis (CO) Democrat Authorizes- but does not appropriate funds – for the Secretary of Education to provide grants for: early-childhood education scholarships, professional development and licensing credentials, or increased compensation for educators who have attained specific qualifications. Requires each state that desires a grant to include a description of its comprehensive early childhood professional development system in its application, and grant recipients must maintain their fiscal effort for the activities supported by the grant funds for a fiscal year at levels equal to or greater than their fiscal effort for such activities during the preceding fiscal year.
40 Version 1 Moore, Gwen (WI), Davis, Danny K. (IL), Wilson (FL) Democrat Delays implementation of new Title II formula until the Secretary of Education determines that the implementation will not reduce funding for schools serving high percentages of students in poverty.
50 Version 1 Wilson (FL) Democrat Provides for school dropout prevention and reentry and provides grants to raise academic achievement levels for all students.
54 Version 2 Carson (IN) Democrat Revised Advances assessments of student achievement and instructional practices, effective teacher preparation and continuing professional development, education administration, and international comparisons. The amendment supports development of a national research strategy to ensure that students, particularly at risk students, have effective teachers and are being prepared for the future.
62 Version 2 Loebsack (IA) Democrat Revised Supports the expansion of the use of digital learning through competitive grants to partnerships to implement and evaluate the results of technology-based learning practices, strategies, tools, or programs at rural schools.
106 Version 1 Brownley (CA) Democrat Creates a grant program for states to create or expand biliteracy seal programs to recognize student proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing in both English and a second language for graduating high school seniors.
110 Version 2 Wilson (FL) Democrat Revised Provides for Intensive Care Reading Labs and for specialization of school staffing for the purposes of basic skills in language arts, mathematics, and science in grades 1-3 as allowable uses in block grant funding.
111 Version 1 Zeldin (NY) Republican Allows a State to withdraw from the Common Core Standards or any other specific standards.
114 Version 2 Hurd (TX) Republican Late Revised Expresses the sense of Congress that students’ personally identifiable information is important to protect as applied to current law and this act.

 

Senate Passes Local Control of Education Act as a Budget Amendment

Photo credit: UpstateNYer (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Photo credit: UpstateNYer (CC-By-SA 3.0)

The U.S. Senate today passed the Local Control of Education Act, sponsored by U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-Louisiana), as a budget amendment.

Vitter, who once supported the Common Core, filed the bill back in January.  U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Steve Daines (R-Montana) were co-sponsors.  The Senate Republican Caucus voted unanimously for the measure that amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 with the following language at the end:

“(e) Prohibition Of Federal Government Mandating Common Standards, Programs Of Instruction, Curricula, Assessments, Or Academic Standards.—An officer or employee of the Federal Government shall not directly or indirectly, through grants, contracts, or other cooperative agreements under this Act (including waivers under section 9401)—

“(1) mandate, direct, or control a State, local educational agency, or school’s specific instructional content or any specific academic standard, assessment, curriculum, or program of instruction, including through any requirement, direction, condition, or mandate to adopt

“(A) the Common Core State Standards developed under the Common Core State Standards Initiative, any other academic standards common to a number of States, or any specific statewide or nationally recognized content standards; or

“(B) any assessment, instructional content, or curriculum aligned to, or based on, specific academic standards, including any of the standards described in subparagraph (A);

“(2) incentivize a State, local educational agency, or school to adopt any specific instructional content, academic standard, assessment, curriculum, commonality of standards or assessments, or program of instruction described in paragraph (1), which shall include providing any priority, preference, or special consideration during the application process based on any specific content, standard, assessment, curriculum, commonality, or program; or

“(3) make financial support available in a manner that is conditioned upon a State, local educational agency, or school’s adoption of any specific instructional content, academic standard, assessment, curriculum, commonality of standards or assessments, or program of instruction described in paragraph (1), even if such requirements are specified in section 14006 or 14007 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111–5; 123 Stat. 281) or any other Act.”.

(b) Conforming Amendment.—Section 9527(a) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7907(a)) is amended by striking “curriculum, program of instruction, or”.

SEC. 3. PROHIBITION ON REQUIRING ADOPTION OF COMMON STANDARDS WITH RESPECT TO WAIVERS.

(a) Prohibition.—Section 9401 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7861) is amended by adding at the end the following:

“(h) Prohibition On Requiring Certain Standards For Waivers.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary shall not require that a State, local educational agency, Indian tribe, or school adopt, as a prerequisite or condition for any waiver under this section, any specific instructional content, academic standard, assessment, curriculum, or program of instruction, including—

“(A) the Common Core State Standards developed under the Common Core State Standards Initiative, any other academic standards common to a number of States, or any specific statewide or nationally recognized content standards; or

“(B) any assessment, instructional content, or curriculum aligned to, or based on, any specific academic standards, including any of the standards described in subparagraph (A).

“(2) EFFECT ON PREVIOUSLY ISSUED WAIVERS.—

“(A) IN GENERAL.—Any requirement described in paragraph (1) that was required for a waiver provided to a State, local educational agency, Indian tribe, or school under this section before the date of enactment of the Local Control of Education Act shall be void and have no force of law.

“(B) PROHIBITED ACTIONS.—The Secretary shall not—

“(i) enforce any requirement that is void pursuant to subparagraph (A); and

“(ii) require the State, local educational agency, Indian tribe, or school to reapply for a waiver, or to agree to any other conditions to replace any requirements that is void pursuant to subparagraph (A), until the end of the period of time specified under the waiver.

“(C) NO EFFECT ON OTHER PROVISIONS.—Any other provisions or requirements of a waiver provided under this section before the date of enactment of the Local Control of Education Act that are not affected by subparagraph (A) shall remain in effect for the period of time specified under the waiver.”.

SEC. 4. PROHIBITION IN RACE TO THE TOP FUNDING.

Title XIV of Division A of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111–5) is amended by inserting after section 14007 the following:

“SEC. 14007A. PROHIBITION ON REQUIRING OR PREFERRING COMMON STANDARDS.

“The prohibitions of section 9527(e) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 shall apply to each grant awarded under section 14006 or 14007 in the same manner as such prohibitions apply to a grant awarded under such Act.”

So if this becomes law states who, under the 10th Amendment, already have the ability to drop the Common Core can do so without fear of reprisal from the U.S. Department of Education if they have a NCLB flexibility waiver or Race to the Top grant.

It would also prevent conditional grants like what we saw with Race to the Top.

In related news… U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) released co-signers of a letter they started circulating earlier this month asking for an appropriations rider to block  further federal overreach in pushing the Common Core standards and assessments on states.

Vitter’s amendment may accomplish that.

Here is the final Senate letter and House letter.  The co-signers are:

Senators Grassley, Roberts, Inhofe, Fischer, Isakson, Daines, Cruz, Lee, Purdue, Enzi, Barrasso, Sessions, Vitter

Representatives King, Babin, Benishek, Blackburn, Blum, Byrne, Crawford, Jeff Duncan, Forbes, Franks, Garrett, Gibbs, Gohmert, Gosar, Grothman, Hartzler, Hensarling, Huelskamp, Hultgren, Jenkins, Johnson, Walter B. Jones, Kelly, Latta, Massie, Jeff Miller, Olson, Pompeo, Posey, Rohrabacher, Rothfus, Salmon, Ann Wagner, Wenstrup

Federal Education Bills That Return Local and State Control

Photo credit: UpstateNYer (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Photo credit: UpstateNYer (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Congressman Scott Garrett (R-NJ) filed the right type of bill instead of the behemoth ESEA/NCLB authorization bill H.R. 121, the Local Education Authority Returns Now Act, gives states the ability to opt out of federal education grants.

Here is the summary of the bill:

This bill requires the Secretary of the Treasury to make an annual determination of states that have chosen to opt-out of K-12 education grant programs and the Secretary of Education to determine credits due to states as opt-out state education amounts.

The bill also amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow individual taxpayers in states that opt-out a refundable tax credit for a share of the opt-out amount creditable to such states.

Then there is H.R. 524, Local Control of Education Act, sponsored by Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) and has 39 cosponsors.

Here is the summary of this bill:

This legislation will restore local control of education by prohibiting the federal government from mandating that states adopt a specific curriculum or set of academic standards, such as Common Core. It will also prohibit the federal government from using grants or waivers to mandate or incentivize states into adopting Common Core, thus ensuring that local control is left to the states. For states that already adopted Common Core, it would ensure that any previous requirements for waivers would be void and the Secretary of Education would be prohibited from requiring states to agree to any new conditions in order to keep their existing waiver.

This legislation helps to counteract the unprecedented federal overreach of the last several years into instructional content, academic standards, and assessments.

I’ve written about the LOCAL Level Act in the U.S. Senate sponsored by U.S. Senator Pat Roberts before.  It now has a bill number – S.182.  It currently has four co-sponsors in the Senate: U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Rob Portman (R-OH) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).

The primary problem with this bill is not the intent behind it, but that it amends ESEA.  We want to sunset ESEA/NCLB.  Call this bill plan B so to speak.  If it could be written in a way that it stands alone I’d be more excited about it.

Here is the summary of that bill:

Learning Opportunities Created At Local Level Act or the LOCAL Level Act

Expresses the sense of Congress that state and local prerogatives over elementary and secondary education need to be preserved.

Amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) to prohibit any federal officer or employee from directly or indirectly, through grants, contracts, or other cooperative agreements under the ESEA:

  • mandating, directing, or controlling a state’s local educational agency’s (LEA’s) or school’s specific instructional content, academic standards, assessments, curriculum, or program of instruction;
  • incentivizing such an entity’s adoption of any specific instructional content, academic standards, assessments, curriculum, or program of instruction;
  • mandating a state or any subdivision thereof to spend any funds or incur any costs not paid for under the ESEA; or
  • conditioning the availability of financial support on a state’s LEA’s, or school’s adoption of any specific instructional content, academic standards, assessments, curriculum, or program of instruction, even if such conditions are specified under any other Act.

Prohibits any funds provided to the Department of Education under the ESEA from being used by the Department directly or indirectly, through grants, contracts, or other cooperative agreements, to endorse, approve, develop, require, or sanction any elementary or secondary school curriculum.

Prohibits conditioning any state’s receipt of ESEA assistance on the approval or certification of its academic standards by the federal government.

Includes in the prohibition against the use of ESEA funds on federally sponsored testing and testing materials such use on any assessment or testing materials aligned to the Common Core State Standards or any other academic standards common to a significant number of states. Prohibits the use of Race to the Top funds, provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, on such aligned assessment or testing materials.

While we call on Congressman John Kline (R-MN) and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to sunset ESEA/NCLB we should also let them know the types of bills we are for.

Roberts Introduces LOCAL Level Act

Photo credit: UpstateNYer (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Photo credit: UpstateNYer (CC-By-SA 3.0)

U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) introduced a bill, the Learning Opportunities Created At the Local (LOCAL) Level Act, on Friday last week that would forbid the federal government from intervening in a state’s education standards, curricula, and assessments through the use of incentives, mandates, grants, waivers or any other form of manipulation.

Roberts was joined in introducing the bill by U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).  Roberts, a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will fight to include this legislation in the committee’s consideration of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

“Setting high standards for our schools, our teachers and our children is the right thing to do, but those standards should be decided in Kansas, without bribes or mandates from Washington,” Roberts said. “We need to get the federal government out of the classroom, and return community decisions back to where they belong – in the community.”

“Decisions about what content students should be taught have enormous consequences for children and so should be made as close as possible to the affected parents and students,” Grassley said. “Federal interference in this area disrupts the direct line of accountability between parents and those making decisions about their children’s education.  It also takes away needed flexibility from state education leaders to make changes as they learn more about what works and what does not.  As I have before, I plan to urge the Appropriations Committee to include language blocking funding for the Administration’s overreach in this area.  In the meantime, I’ll continue to work with Senator Roberts to ensure that the law is amended to stop such overreach permanently.”

“The best education is the one that is shaped by parents and local leaders who know first-hand the children and communities their standards and goals impact,” Inhofe said. “This legislation reins in big government regulations being issued by the Department of Education and returns education decisions back to the parents, teachers, and local leaders who are on the front lines of advancing our children’s future. With more than 660,000 children enrolled in public schools across Oklahoma, it is pivotal we ensure that state and local school boards continue to have the authority needed to carry out education policy decisions.”

“Decisions about education curriculum should be made at the local or state level – not from Washington,” Portman stated. “Having a one-size-fits-all Washington approach to education is harmful to our children and to our education system. We should allow states and local communities the flexibility to innovate and make their own education decisions. The federal government does have a key supporting role to play in improving our workforce, and I have led efforts to streamline and improve our worker retraining programs while giving states additional flexibility.”

Roberts’ efforts to permanently prohibit the Administration’s interference with state education decisions through authorization language have been complemented by Senator Grassley’s efforts to address the problem through the appropriations process.

Help Recruit Cosigners for Grassley and King’s Common Core Defunding Letters

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) needs our help.  He is leading the charge in the U.S. Senate to defund the Common Core State Standards.  He is looking for co-signers for a letter that will be sent to the leaders of the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee – Senators Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) asking that they include language in their next appropriations bill to block the further use of any funding from the U.S. Department of Education to incentivize or otherwise coerce states into adopting and retaining the Common Core State Standards.

Congressman Steve King (R-IA) has a similar letter in the House of Representatives.

As of Monday, Senator Grassley’s letter had only two confirmed co-signers: Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS) and James Inhofe (R-OK).

The deadline for both letters is the close of business tomorrow.  So please contact your Representative and Senators TODAY!

The text of Grassley’s letter is below (King’s letter is practically identical):

Dear Chairman Harkin and Ranking Member Moran:

We ask that the Fiscal Year 2015 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriation Bill include language to restore state decision-making and accountability with respect to state academic content standards.  The decision about what students should be taught and when it should be taught has enormous consequences for our children.  Therefore, parents out to have a straight line of accountability to those who are making such decisions.  Those decisions should be made at the state or local level, free from any pressure from the U.S. Department of Education.

We support eliminating further interference by the U.S. Department of Education with respect to state decisions on academic content standards by including the following language in the Fiscal Year 2015 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill:

(a)In General – Funds appropriated under this Act or any prior Act shall not be used by the Secretary of Education –

(1) to require a State or local educational agency to develop or implement any set of academic content standards common to multiple States, including the Common Core State Standards developed under the Common Core State Standards Initiative, or any other specified set or type of academic content standards selected by the Secretary, or assessments aligned with such standards, including as a condition of approval of a State plan submitted to the Secretary an application for a waiver issued by such Secretary under section 9401 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7861), or as a condition of approval or competitive preference for an award of Federal funds under any grant, contract, or cooperative agreement;

(2) to establish any criterion that specifies, defines or prescribes the standards or measures that a State or local educational agency uses to establish, implement, or improve academic content standards, academic achievement standards, academic assessments, accountability systems, systems that measure student growth, measures of other academic indicators, or teacher and principal evaluation systems; or

(3) to award any grant, contract, or cooperative agreement to a consortium of States that requires or specifically authorizes the development of assessments aligned with any set of academic content standards common to multiple States, including the Common Core State Standards developed under the Common Core State Standards Initiative, or any other specified set or type of academic content standards selected by the Secretary.

(b) Rule of Construction. – Nothing in subsection (a) shall be construed to limit the discretion of an individual State or local education agency to use funds provided through a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement that does not otherwise violate subsection (a) for any purpose consistent with the terms of the grant, contract, or cooperative agreement, including the development or implementation of any set of content standards, assessments, or curricula that the State or local educational agency chooses to develop or implement without regard to a Federal requirement or incentive.

Thank you for your consideration of our request.

Originally posted at American Principles in Action.

Photo credit: Matt Wade (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Stop Common Core Progress Update

commoncore1We are drawing close to the end of the state legislative sessions.  I thought it would be a good time to highlight the progress that has been made in fighting the Common Core.  If you look back just a few months ago you can see how far our movement has come.  Some significant progress was made in just the last five months.

  1. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) then called on the federal defunding of the Common Core State Standards, the assessments and the federal review board for the assessments.  He had eight other Senators join him.
  2. Indiana passed a Common Core Pause bill which brings more transparency for the Common Core implementation in the Hoosier State.  The Indiana State Board of Education is required to hold three public hearings and have a fiscal impact study done before they can continue to implement the Common Core.  Our hope is this will lead to a repeal bill as the facts, not just the propaganda, becomes known.
  3. The Utah GOP passed their own resolution condemning the Common Core State Standards.
  4. The Georgia GOP Resolutions Committee passed their anti-Common Core resolution 11-3 despite major lobbying being done on behalf of Governor Nathan Deal.  The Georgia GOP Convention were not able to take up any resolutions as the convention ran late and they lost their quorum.  This follows four district conventions passing their own anti-Common Core resolutions.  Governor Deal recently ordered 60 days of public comment on the Common Core in response to pressure he has been under.
  5. Oklahoma after seeing their initial bill get derailed had their Speaker of the House do a 180 and is now working to repeal the Common Core in their state.
  6. Iowa put Common Core Assessments on hold and now requires a task force to be formed to study different assessments (not just tie themselves to SBAC) and do a fiscal impact study before the State Legislature will vote on an assessment.  The time frame for assessments were pushed back to the 2016-17 school year.  This is a turn around as the original language in Iowa’s education reform bill gave the State Board of Education the authority to mandate Smarter Balanced Assessments.  So a conference committee stripped that language and inserted the pause.  Also opposition is forming within the State Legislature so look for repeal and defunding bills to be forthcoming next session (their session ended yesterday).
  7. Wisconsin just had a hearing on the Common Core Wednesday, and it sounds like it likely that pause legislation will be introduced in that state.
  8. Legislation has been introduced in Congress by Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-AL) entitled “Defending State Authority Over Education Act.”  This would “prohibit the federal government from offering grants or policy waivers contingent on a state’s use of certain curricula or assessment policies.”
  9. Pennsylvania is experiencing push-back that led Governor Tom Corbett to sign an executive order delaying the Common Core implementation. (Still need legislative action so this is permanent).
  10. Ohio is having a budget battle over the Common Core State Standards, after the Ohio House stripped funding for PARCC from their budget.
  11. States that have had legislation introduced this year that would either pause or repeal the Common Core State Standards: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and South Dakota.  States that are still active are mentioned above.  States that had bills die in committee (or in Missouri’s case was halted due to political games prior to a floor vote) we expect will see efforts again next session.
  12. We have seen an explosion of anti-Common Core state-based groups over the last several months.

It is clear that we have momentum in what seemed a year ago to be an impossible uphill battle.

Originally posted at American Principles Project.

Is the Common Core in Trouble?

That is a question asked by Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog.  She writes:

Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently met with Chamber of Commerce leaders and urged them to be more vocal and forceful in defending the Common Core State Standards. Why?

Duncan made the appeal, which was reported by Education Week, because the initiative — a set of common standards adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia designed to raise student achievement — has come under such withering attack in recent months that what once seemed like a major policy success for the Obama administration now looks troubled.

A handful of states (including Indiana, Alabama, South Dakota and Georgia) are either pulling back or considering it, and core supporters fear more states will too.  A growing number of educators are complaining that states have done a poor job implementing the standards and are pushing core-aligned tests on students too early. And parents have started a campaign to “opt” their children out of the Common Core-aligned high-stakes standardized tests.

She then mentions the RNC resolution  which helped resurrect an Alabama bill,  See also mentioned Senator Grassley’s move to defund the Common Core and that it has bipartisan opposition.

Just today the Michigan House just voted to defund the Common Core.  The Indiana Senate passed a measure to slow down the implementation (twice actually!).  The Indiana House and Governor Mike Pence are under pressure to act.

All of this must have lead the Indiana Chamber of Commerce to act with this smear campaign for a blog post.

Two moms from Indianapolis, a handful of their friends and a couple dozen small but vocal Tea Party groups. That’s the entire Indiana movement that is advocating for a halt to the Common Core State Standards. No educational backgrounds. No track record of supporting education reforms or any other past education issues. And worst of all: A demonstrated willingness to say just about anything, no matter how unsubstantiated or blatantly false, to advocate their cause.

Meanwhile, the policy that they are attacking was implemented by former Gov. Mitch Daniels, then State Superintendent Tony Bennett, the Indiana Education Roundtable and the State Board of Education. To date, 45 other states have also adopted it. Common Core has been supported by superintendents, school boards, Indiana’s Catholic and other private schools, principals, teachers unions, the Indiana PTA, various education reform groups, higher education and more. The business community is actively engaged, including strong support from the Indiana Chamber, Eli Lilly, Cummins, Dow AgroSciences, IU Health and many others.

Can you say elitist snob?  Perhaps many educators are not speaking out because they are encouraged told not to.  They also fail to mention the person who unseated Tony Bennett – Glenda Ritz – has stated opposition to the Common Core.

Also I’d love to know exactly what they claim to be blatantly false?  See we are pretty good at referencing our claims about the Common Core.  Those who advocate for it, not so much.

Also while we are on the subject of truth then the Indiana Chamber of Commerce should tell the truth about who is funding the Common Core and the reviews of it – the Gates Foundation.

Sad.  The Common Core is in trouble and Arne Duncan, and it would seem the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, are getting desperate.

Contact Your Senators to Co-Sign Grassley’s Request to Halt Common Core Funding

View of the Capitol from the Newseum

I reported at Caffeinated Thoughts that Senator Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) office emailed me about a letter they were sending to the Senate Appropriations Committee on education to request that they prohibit future funding for the Common Core State Standards, their assessments, and the assessment review panel that was recently launched.

Here’s the text of the letter below:

The Honorable Tom Harkin                                        The Honorable Jerry Moran

Chairman, Subcommittee on Labor,                       Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Labor

Health and Human Services, and Education        Health and Human Services, and Education

Senate Appropriations Committee                         Senate Appropriations Committee

Dear Chairman Harkin and Ranking Member Moran:

We ask that the Fiscal Year 2014 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill include language to restore state decision-making and accountability with respect to state academic content standards. The decision about what students should be taught and when it should be taught has enormous consequences for our children. Therefore, parents ought to have a straight line of accountability to those who are making such decisions. State legislatures, which are directly accountable to the citizens of their states, are the appropriate place for those decisions to be made, free from any pressure from the U.S. Department of Education.

While the Common Core State Standards Initiative was initially billed as a voluntary effort between states, federal incentives have clouded the picture. Current federal law makes clear that the U.S. Department of Education may not be involved in setting specific content standards or determining the content of state assessments. Nevertheless, the selection criteria designed by the U.S. Department of Education for the Race to the Top Program provided that for a state to have any chance to compete for funding, it must commit to adopting a “common set of K-12 standards” matching the description of the Common Core. The U.S. Department of Education also made adoption of “college- and career-ready standards” meeting the description of the Common Core a condition to receive a state waiver under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Race to the Top funds were also used to fund two consortiums to develop assessments aligned to the Common Core and the Department is now in the process of evaluating these assessments.

We ask that you eliminate further interference by the U.S. Department of Education with respect to state decisions on academic content standards by including the following language in the Fiscal Year 2014 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill:

Sec. __. (a) Funds appropriated under this Act or any prior Act shall not be used by the Secretary of Education—

(1) to directly develop, implement, or evaluate multi-State or other specified standards (defined in this section as any set of academic content standards common to multiple States, including the Common Core State Standards developed by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers, or any other specified set or type of academic content standards selected by the Secretary) or assessments aligned with such standards;

(2) to award any grant, contract, or cooperative agreement that requires or specifically authorizes the development, implementation, or evaluation of multi-State or other specified standards, or assessments aligned with such standards;

(3) to condition any award of funds to a State on the adoption of multi-State or other specified standards, or to include, as a component of an application for Federal funds, a requirement or preference related to multi-State or other specified standards; or

(4) to enforce any provision of a waiver issued by such Secretary under section 9401 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7861) related to the adoption of multi-State or other specified standards.

(b) Nothing in subsection (a) shall be construed to limit the discretion of an individual State to use funds provided through a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement for any uses that are authorized under the grant, contract, or cooperative agreement, if the State so chooses.

Thank you for your consideration of our request.

Sincerely,

Chuck Grassley

Contact your Senators and ask that they would co-sign this letter.  The deadline is April 25th.

Photo Credit: Victoria Pickering via Flickr (CC-By-NC-ND 2.0)