Deputized Education

Most of us, here in America, know that our State Superintendents are elected. We also know that some States have these leaders appointed. However, have you heard of new positions in your States for Deputy Superintendents? These leaders are appointed solely by your current State Superintendent.

As I often do, I’ll use NC (where I live) as an example of how troublesome this new concept is for America. Why would I do that? Because what I’ve found to be true more times than not, is if we spy one State expanding government in the name of education, it’s happening in other States, too.

Why would your State or mine expand government in the name of education?

ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) requires expansion. How? One of the most damning mandates in ESSA is that all education must be aligned to post-secondary readiness. To have all education aligned to the same thing, you have to update technology (ie: innovation). Of course, you update the technology, you increase the amount of data mining. 

The NC State Board of Education is hosting its December meeting 12/5 and 12/6. Among the documents is the 2019 Report to the Joint Oversight Committee on Education (as per a NC State Statute requires). In that Report, you’ll see on page 1, this excerpt explaining NC’s first ISD (Innovation School District (this ISD covers the entire State, by the way) leader who got a recent promotion: 

“The founding Superintendent, Dr. Eric Hall, was hired in May 2017 to launch and implement this new statewide intervention focused on improving student outcomes in low performing schools. On September 17, 2018, the ISD named a new Superintendent, LaTeesa Allen. Ms. Allen replaced Eric Hall, who was promoted to Deputy State Superintendent of Innovation.”

I was one of the first to expose the DIS (see below), but, I’m not the only NC citizen upset about an increased educratic government system in NC, From July 2018, Caffeinated Rage (a blog about public education in NC) published this article about the newly created Deputy position. As you read the Rage blog you’ll see that in fact there are several other new Deputies in education, as well as a comparison to our pre ESSA organization chart for NC and the new organizational chart. 

Besides the fact that our current State Superintendent expanded the Department of Public Instruction by creating Deputies, such the Deputy of Innovation, this type of move took AWAY some taxpayer transparency!

When you take away taxpayer transparency, you continue to mute the voices of the parents and concerned citizens. When you remove those voices, control of education becomes LESS local and more top-down. That’s another direct part of ESSA, more top-down control and less parental choice.

Oh, one last point about the Deputy of Innovation, the schools targeted are all low-performing ones. ESSA has mandates for low-performing schools that we’re seeing played out in NC and across the nation: these low-performing public schools are being turned over to private charter school management companies.

Deputies of Innovation are nationwide. After a quick internet search, I found that there are at least 160 such deputy jobs available just on Indeed.com alone. One such position is available in CA. NY has some education deputies which intersect with communities. (ESSA laid that aspect out as well). NM’s got a similar name as NC’s Deputy, but it’s called a Director. 

Just like the re-brands of Common Core (like CCR, College/Career Readiness), ESSA’s re-branding many parts of education. Why? Those backing the egregious national standards and control know that if a new sounding name is introduced, ‘We the People’ are more likely to embrace the changes. 

However, many citizens have woken up to the fact all that appears new isn’t new at all. It’s the same Common Core Standards nightmare being carried out. 

So, what are we, as Americans supposed to do with the newly created government expansion? 

Demand are voices be heard, re-instate total transparency. Repeal ESSA, nationally normed standards thrive on nationally normed (and conformed) tests. Which every single State in America is seeing play out. We also need our President to rescind the FERPA gutting Executive Order and restore true student privacy. 

We need to ditch updating technology and get back to the basics of learning. The increase in technology not only assaults privacy, it is dangerous in the fact of too much screen time literally harms student’s brains!

C’mon America, we not only HAVE to demand the best for our students, we MUST not stop raising awareness of the daily wrongs being committed on our dime and to our children. We MUST hold State level and national level Congress members accountable that there’s a U.S. Constitution which laid out what was federal business and what wasn’t. 

Education was NEVER supposed to be top-down from the federal government. Education HAS been used by the federal government to coerce every single State in our nation! Federal laws were created to prohibit federal overreaches in education. Laws like ESSA not only violate that concept, it totally squashes our State leaders!

Related Resources:
Back in 2016, I first wrote about the Districts of Innovation on my full-time blog
(https://commoncorediva.wordpress.com/2016/10/05/bees-in-ncs-bonnet/)

To see the 2019 Report to the Joint Oversight Education Committee, here’s the link: https://simbli.eboardsolutions.com/Meetings/Attachment.aspx?S=10399&AID=151291&MID=4874

Education Has Been Reduced to Absurdity

We’ve survived yet another election. My hat is tipped to those men and women who ARE against federally led education who ran for office. From what I know, most of them were beaten out by the Establishment. For shame, we need Warriors in power! However, the focus of my article is about the real loser in the 2018 elections: American education.

Education has been reduced to absurdity by the educrats in DC, State and local levels and well as the CCSS Machine. The November 6th, 2018 elections did ZERO to correct this absurdity, either.

In fact, I’ll wager my research, that if anything, the election results will INCREASE the amount of absurdity in education! This might be funny if it weren’t such a nightmare reality for our students, teachers, parents, and taxpayers. So how has this absurdity been pulled off? Delphi Techniques with a dash of Hegelian Dialect thrown in.

Delphi Technique And Hegelian Dialect Moves:

The Delphi Technique has been used on us many, many times by the CCSS Machine. You know, you go to a school related meeting, you’re placed in groups, given questions and asked to come up with solutions. Then, the results are shared with those asking for your input, yet very few of your solutions appear. What does? The preconceived solutions by the ‘system’.
This type of move gives you a false sense of involvement while the CCSS Machine retains control.

So, what’s the Hegelian Dialect? That’s another type of control method, only it’s done by controlling thoughts. From the Bitter Realities blog it’s described as a “framework for guiding our thoughts and actions into conflicts that lead us to a predetermined solution.”

The effect is, that, once inside that ‘predetermined solution’, you can’t see reality.

For example, the title of the federal law known as ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) is a Hegelian Dialect move.

How? By using carefully placed wording it impressed on the nation a predetermined solution that all students would succeed. The Hegelian Dialect manipulates, as does ESSA. The Hegelian Dialect is a Communist tactic to drive economics.

Guess what? ESSA’s mandates for college/career readiness and workforce aligned education are also a Communist tactic to create worker drones, not educated citizens.

Put the 2 methods (Delphi and Hegelian) together and you’ve got quite a slick sales pitch. Look below at the example when the two are combined.

Seker’s Research (2015) (*Note: this will take you to the page to download the Research paper) If you’d like to see my latest IEEE article, visit here.

From the “In Defense of Our Nation” blog, this description of how We the People are being Delphied and Hegelianized to the point of frenzy, “This is how the dialectical process works and it is present in nearly all social issues confronting America.  From global warming to health care, from gun control to wealth inequality we are being led to believe that we are overwhelmed with problems that only government can solve, and to solve them they need us to relinquish more of our God given liberty.”

Apply this all to education. Then, consider the elections. Those who’ve won, what types of words did they use in the campaign for education? What type of statements were given during the victory speeches?

From the ones I’ve read it’s more of the ESSA mandates in Hegelian terms.
For example, ‘more vocational classes’. Since ESSA embedded WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) there’s already nothing BUT vocational education. They are called Career Tech Education (CTE), Career Clusters, Career Pathways, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Back in 2006‘vocational tech’ was re-branded to CTE..on purpose. That purpose? Common Core aligned workforce education. When ESSA was passed into law, Common Core was re-branded to ‘challenging State Academic Standards’/’college and career readiness’/post-secondary readiness’.

Bring On the Reductio Ad Absurdum!

If you’ve not heard of ‘reductio ad absurdum’ it’s Latin for “Reduced to Absurdity”. Another psychological tactic to mess with our heads and our hearts. The CCSS Machine uses this one, too. So do educrats. How does reducing things to absurdity work? Look below:

(Source is here; emphasis added is mine)

What reduction to absurdity about education that’s been uttered by several victors in the 2018 elections have we all heard? “Expansion of school choice”Warriors‘school choice’as we know it has gone.

That’s due to ESSA’s mandate that ALL education be aligned to post-secondary readiness as laid out by the industry credentialed standards in WIOA.

When all education is the same, how can we realistically expand it? You can’t. The CCSS Machine (and DC) knows this.

You cannot improve on 100%.  The true absurdity is that these people in power will actually REDUCE choices in education. Why or how? Their States are being strung along by the top-down federal control to bow to the United Nations and the global shift in education. That shift? Workforce preparation, not academics.

Closing:

This has ZERO to do with political parties and EVERYTHING to do with being controlled. So, since we all have to live together and work together, help fellow citizens out. Help those newly elected officials out. SHOW them how we’re all being manipulated to meet the CCSS Machine’s agenda in education.

DeVos Releases a Parents’ Guide to the Every Student Succeeds Act

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos at AEI Conference on 1/16/18.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos at AEI Conference on 1/16/18.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released a parents’ guide to the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Along with it comes a steady stream of propaganda that paints ESSA as a deliverer of state and local control, which it is not.

“At the core of ESSA is an acknowledgment that Washington doesn’t know best when it comes to educating our nation’s students,” DeVos said. “Our focus is on returning power to the hands of parents, states and local educators, where it belongs. Parents should not have to parse through a 500-page legal document to understand how a law or policy affects their children’s education.”

“Because states and districts have significant flexibility in how they meet the requirements of the law, parents should know and have a voice in how they use that flexibility to best help their children. These new resources will help empower those closest to students with information they need to be informed advocates as education decisions are made at the state and local level,” she continued.

There are some pieces of useful information for parents in understanding their rights under the law:

  • If your eighth-grader is taking a high school level math class and test, he or she is not required to take the State math test other eighth-grade students take.
  • Your high school student may be able to take a nationally recognized high school test, such as the ACT or SAT, instead of the test your State normally administers in high school.
  • If your child attends a school in a district in a State that receives the flexibility to offer an innovative assessment, he or she may take a different type of test in place of the standardized tests the State would otherwise administer.
  • If your child is a student with the most significant cognitive disabilities, as defined by your State, it may be appropriate for your child to be assessed with an alternative assessment. This determination will be an individualized decision, with your input, based on your child’s individual and unique needs.
  • If your child attends a school the State identifies for comprehensive support and improvement, your district may allow your child to transfer to another public school and use a portion of its Federal funds to pay for transportation to the public school you choose for your child.

Unfortunately, there is no mention of parents opting their students out of assessments which is the most significant way parents can exercise control of their student’s education. The rest is merely lip service.

Read the guide below:

Parents Group Calls on President Trump to Fire Betsy DeVos

On Tuesday, U.S. Parents Involved in Education (USPIE) released an open letter to President Donald Trump urging him to fire Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. You can read it below.

Dear Mr. President, 

United States Parents Involved in Education (USPIE), a nationwide grassroots organization of parents and education advocates regularly conveys concerns to you and other elected officials about the negative effect of Federal government intrusion in education. 

USPIE calls for Congress to abide by the Constitutional structure for education, for the elimination of the U.S. Department of Education, for ending all Federal education programs, and for returning the control of education to parents and local communities. USPIE developed a Blueprint based on references from CATO Institute and The Independent Institute to provide clear reasons and steps to achieving these goals. The Blueprint has been shared extensively with elected officials in Washington D.C. 

As USPIE communicated to you previously, we were hopeful, with some reservations regarding the nomination of Mrs. DeVos for Secretary of Education. USPIE believed you would instruct Secretary DeVos to be laser focused on fulfilling your campaign promises to eliminate Common Core, however rebranded, and begin to dismantle the U.S. Department of Education. 

Since her appointment, Secretary DeVos has used the hammer of the Federal government to broaden its authority and disregard the rights of states and parents. Three actions in particular demonstrate this disregard:

  • threatening states abiding by state parental rights laws through the ESSA plan approval process,
  • recommending the merger of the Departments of Education and Labor fundamentally shifting the purpose of education to “workforce development”,
  • and now, endorsing the G20’s Declaration enshrining the UN’s education agenda, which undermines not only parents and states, but the fundamental sovereignty of the United States.

We do not believe these actions are consistent with your “America First” philosophy nor your campaign promises that generated so much enthusiasm.
As one of the nation’s largest collaboration of parents, and grassroots education advocates, we are committed to the goal of truly improving education for all of America’s children, which begins with reinstating parental authority and control, and ending Federal meddling in education. We continue to be available to assist in this effort.

Given these concerns, we call for the immediate dismissal of Secretary DeVos and for the appointment of an American education leader who will prioritize the fulfillment of your campaign promises.

Sincerely,
U.S. Parents Involved in Education

Education Policy: Where the Florida Gubernatorial Primary Candidates Stand

These guides are NOT endorsements, but layout and rate the Common Core, federal education, preschool and related issues records of the Republican and Democrat candidates for governor of Florida, listed as officially qualified by the Florida Department of State to be on the ballot for the 2018 election, based on reviews of the candidates’ statements on their websites, in the media, at debates, polling data, endorsements, and voting records where available. PDF versions of these tables are available for the Democrats and the Republicans. The Florida Primary will be held on Tuesday, August 28.

Democrat Primary:

Mayor Andrew Gillum

  • Expanded/Supported Federal Intrusion in Education: N/A
  • Supports Common Core: Not mentioned – His supporters oppose CCSS 40%-27%.
  • Opposes High Stakes Testing: Yes
  • Supports Expanded Pre-K: Yes, he wants an expansion of pre-K despite overall research of ineffectiveness and harm.

Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham

Businessman Jeff Greene

  • Expanded/Supported Federal Intrusion in Education: N/A
  • Supports Common Core: Not mentioned, but his supporters oppose CCSS 46%-33%.
  • Opposes High Stakes Testing: Yes
  • Supports Expanded Pre-K: Yes, he wants two years “mandatory preschool” despite overall research of ineffectiveness and harm.

Former Mayor Phil Levine

  • Expanded/Supported Federal Intrusion in Education: N/A
  • Supports Common Core: Not mentioned, there is no CCSS polling data available.
  • Opposes High Stakes Testing: Yes
  • Supports Expanded Pre-K: Yes, he wants an expansion of pre-K despite overall research of ineffectiveness and harm.

Alex “Lundy” Lundmark

Chris King and Jon Wetherbee had little to no information on their views and plans for these pre-K through 12 education issues and received grades of “Incomplete.”

Republican Primary

Congressman Ron DeSantis

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam

Businessman and Activist Bob White

  • Opposes Federal Intrusion in Education: Yes, he clearly understands the lack of constitutionality of the federal role in education and cost to states.
  • Opposes Common Core: Yes, and has led many grassroots efforts against Common Core throughout the state and at the legislature.
  • Opposes Expansion of Government Pre-K: Not discussed.
  • Pro-Common Core Endorsement or Rating: No
  • Anti-Common Core Endorsement or Rating: Former Congressman Ron Paul.

The remaining qualified Republican candidates  Don Baldauf, Timothy DeVine, Bob Langford, John Mercadante, and Bruce Nathan either do not have campaign websites, have no record, or discuss pre-K through 12 education issues minimally, if at all. These five candidates received grades of “Incomplete.”

Lesko Introduces Make Education Local Act

Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (R-Arizona) Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (R-Arizona)
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (R-Arizona) introduced the Make Education Local Act of 2018 (H.R. 6259) that, in comparison to the Every Student Succeeds Act, would provide states much more flexibility.

If you’ve read my articles here you understand that the term flexibility as it relates to the Every Student Succeeds Act is something I scoff at.

Lesko’s bill, outside of Congressman Thomas Massie’s (R-Kentucky) bill to shutter the U.S. Department of Education, seems to be one that offers the most progress toward reducing (albeit not eliminating) federal control in K-12 education.

The bill would allow individual states to submit their own education plans, known as a State Management Decision, to the U.S. Secretary of Education. After approval by the U.S. Department of Education, all federal funding programs would roll into one pot of money for the state to implement their individualized education plan.

I bristle at the phrase “approval,” but reading the text of the bill I relaxed a little:

The Secretary shall review the State management decision received from the State Designated Officer not more than 60 days after the date of receipt of such decision, and shall approve, with respect to permitting the State to receive the funds described in subsection (a), such State management decision unless the State management decision fails to meet the requirements under subsection (c). (emphasis mine)

Here are the requirements under subsection (c). Each State management decision shall contain:

  1. a list of eligible programs that are subject to the State management decision;
  2. an assurance that the submission of the State management decision has been authorized by the State Authorizing Officials, specifying the identity of the State Designated Officer;
  3. the duration of the State management decision;
  4. an assurance that the State will use fiscal control and fund accounting procedures;
  5. an assurance that the State will meet the requirements of applicable Federal civil rights laws in carrying out the State management decision and in consolidating and using the funds under the State management decision;
  6. an assurance that in implementing the State management decision the State will seek to advance educational opportunities for the disadvantaged;
  7. a description of the plan for maintaining direct accountability to parents and other citizens of the State;
  8. an assurance that in implementing the State management decision, the State will seek to use Federal funds to supplement, rather than supplant, State education funding; and
  9. a description of how the State will address persistently failing public schools.

So here’s a summary of what this bill offers:

  • Allows states to submit a State Management Decision to the Secretary of Education that is valid for between 5 and 10 years.
  • A State Management Decision allows a state to be waived from all provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act and allows for that state to consolidate all federal education dollars into one single grant.
  • Protects the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act dollars from being consolidated and provisions of the law from being waived.
  • Increases transparency by requiring a state in their State Management Decision to outline their plan for using the dollars and how they will inform parents of student achievement.
  • Ensures accountability by requiring participating states to publish a yearly report of student performance and a description of how the state used federal funds to improve academic achievement and a yearly report with information for the public regarding other high-quality school options and choices.
  • Gives states the flexibility to financially account and consolidate federal education dollars in any way they choose.

There is private school language in the bill that could cause concern for some, I’m ambivilent.

There is a mandate for a state to report on other options within the state in their “report for student progress. Section 3(c)(2) reads that the report shall include, “a description of other high-quality school options available to parents in the State.”

Section 5 deals with private school participation.

Each State consolidating and using funds pursuant to a State management decision under this Act shall provide for the participation of private school children and teachers in the activities assisted under the State management decision in the same manner as participation is provided to private school children and teachers under section 9501 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7881).

I don’t think this is a mandate for a state to provide a school choice program because that doesn’t exist under ESEA. Still, there is a reporting mandate, and states are required to provide for private school participation in programs federally-funded under the State managment decision. The devil is in the details, and the bill does not spell it out any further.

One of the primary things I appreciate about Lesko’s bill is that it is pretty straightforward and short, not as short as Massie’s bill, but it will only take a few minutes to read which I encourage you to do. As far as the future of the bill it only has four cosponsors at the moment so it has a pretty big hill to climb.

So again, this bill does not eliminate federal involvement in K-12 education. This would be an incremental step. I want to be clear on that. I also want to be clear that this is not an endorsement of the bill. It has piqued my interest, however.

Is American Government Rejecting Capitalism & Embracing a Managed Economy?

While skilled workers are needed to build new infrastructure and for our expanding economy after the tax cuts, the reauthorization of the Carl Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act of 2006 tries to accomplish those goals via the wrong method – replacing capitalism with central planning. The new bill, called The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, HR 2353, just passed Congress on voice votes and signed yesterday.

The increasingly centralized federal education and workforce system, of which Perkins is a part, is multifaceted: the Every Student Succeeds Act, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the proposed merger of the Departments of Labor and Education, Common Core for use with digital badges,  computerized  “personalized” learning (PL)/competency-based education (CBE), and older laws like No Child Left Behind, Goals 2000, and School to Work. 

This longstanding, unconstitutional federal interference in education and labor markets, picking winners and losers, has not improved and will not improve academic or economic outcomes. Even worse, Perkins is the latest example of racing away from capitalism to embrace principles of government/corporate control found in European social democracies and failed command-and-control economies littering the 20th century.

The Perkins reauthorization contains multiple passages embracing central economic planning. The bill requires the use of “State, regional, or local labor market data to determine alignment of eligible recipients’ programs of study to the needs of the State, regional, or local economy, including in-demand industry sectors and occupations identified by the State board, and to align career and technical education with such needs… What happened to individual students and free markets making those decisions? 

The “State board” refers to government-appointed bureaucrats, including corporate bigwigs, on state workforce boards set up under the Workforce Investment Act (predecessor to WIOA) signed by President Clinton. This scheme elevates the needs of business over student desires, while playing Carnac to predict economic trends. 

These boards were essential to Marc Tucker’s plan to centralize the entire U.S. education and workforce system, outlined in his now infamous 1992 letter to the Clintons. It was and remains Tucker’s plan to “to remold the entire American system” into “a seamless web that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone,” coordinated by “a system of labor market boards at the local, state and federal levels” where curriculum, including “national standards” and “job matching,” will be handled by counselors “accessing the integrated computer-based program.”

In 2001, former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and policy analyst Michael Chapman described key components of Tucker’s system implemented via three federal laws signed by Clinton, including:

  • Public/private [unaccountable] non-profits provide design, policy, and seed money as a catalyst for systemic change.
  • The Federal Department of Labor chooses which private industry sectors are promoted in each state. 
  • K-12 and state colleges dump academics for job training in local “targeted” industries. 

They used the following diagram to illustrate the system, which served as the foundation leading to the various other programs listed above. These others could then be added on appropriate sides of this triangle:

Billionaire busybodies like Bill Gates adopted the Tucker/Clinton vision, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on programs like Smaller Learning Communities that required students to choose career paths in eighth grade, Common Core, and other education/workforce/data mining debacles. 

In Tucker’s recent letter to Secretary of Education DeVos praising Europe’s managed education-workforce systems, he continues the theme of government/business control of CTE, believing “business and labor” should “own it, period.” He giddily describes the Swiss system, in which business and labor “set the standards” for various system components, “define the progressions,” and “even examine the candidates seeking credentials.” 

This idea of corporations examining candidates underlies Tucker’s 1992 desire for national standards that became Common Core. The Common Core standards are used as data tags to hold everyone accountable to the government system, including expansion of social-emotional learning.  This concept also inspired Big Data’s push for constant assessment, data mining, and psychological profiling in PL/CBE, including use of Facebook-style student personality profiling being pushed globally. 

Perkins contains numerous references to CBE, data collection, and the manipulative Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (a system of universal student behavioral screening and potential psychological modification). All this can ultimately feed into subjective, murky algorithms that will channel children into government/corporate-desired societal roles. 

Yet – as history shows — government is utterly incapable of predicting economic trends and workforce needs. Five-year plans have failed spectacularly. Even Tucker, when recently discussing CTE, admitted his scheme’s great danger is to “condemn a large fraction of our youth to narrowly conceived training programs at the very time that advances in artificial intelligence and related disciplines are on the verge of wiping out entire industries…” 

Although Tucker and colleagues tout European education-workforce systems, none have produced or will produce American levels of freedom and prosperity. Will America choose the Tucker/Gates/Clinton failed methods that view “human value only in terms of productive capability” or our children as “products” (per Rex Tillerson)? Or will we return to promoting, as framed by C.S. Lewis, education over training so that American civilization continues to produce the freedom, prosperity and generosity that have made it the greatest civilization in human history?

More “Flexibility” From The Feds

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

Here’s another example of “flexibility” from the Feds that will directly impact parents who want to opt their students out. After we were told that the Every Student Succeeds Act will end the “national school board” and will “provide greater flexibility to local schools and states,” the U.S. Department of Education under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos doesn’t seem to have received the memo.

Shocker.

Utah is the latest state to get slapped down when they asked the Feds, “Mother may I?”

The Salt Lake City Tribune reports:

After its series of requests for flexibility from federal education laws were denied, the Utah Board of Education has agreed to count opt-outs as students who took tests but failed in order to achieve a minimum participation rate of 95 percent.

That means schools with high numbers of students who opt-out of assessments — including many charter schools and some school districts — could see their performance ratings plummet, as those children are awarded zero points for the purpose of accountability calculations. The ratings are used in programs like Title 1, school grading and school turnaround efforts.

The change in policy is part of Utah’s plan to comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, which mandates that at least 95 percent of students participate in annual testing in grades three through eight and at least once in high school. Utah’s plan was approved Thursday by the U.S. Department of Education, following several delays as the state requested and failed to receive a waiver from the participation requirements, or a one-year reprieve from ESSA’s mandate.

Let’s say this again – The Every Student Succeeds Act does not provide flexibility. The Every Student Succeeds Act does not return local control. Those who think it does are either devious or deluded.

If the Trump Administration is serious about ratcheting back federal education policy they can start by convincing Congress to repeal this horrendous law.

Will Utah Fight for Parental Control After Feds Deny ESSA Opt-Out Waiver?

So much for returning educational autonomy to the states.

In his inaugural address, President Trump sounded a clarion call for transferring power from the federal government to the people:

[T]oday we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party to another – but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.  What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20, 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.

Fine words, but they haven’t been put into action with respect to education policy. 

The most recent example comes from Utah. In early May the Utah State Board of Education requested a waiver, which U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is statutorily empowered to grant, from a federal testing requirement under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). That mandate is that states include at least 95% of their students in the statewide tests. This provision is intended to ensuring the reliability of federally mandated accountability measures (notice how often the words “require” and “mandate” come up in discussions of the supposedly state-empowering ESSA). If its testing participation rate drops below 95%, the state must count every non-tested student as zero or non-proficient. Although highly misleading, this calculation ratchets down the state’s “academic achievement indicator” and can result in various negative federal consequences.

Utah requested the waiver because state law specifically protects the rights of parents to opt their children out of statewide assessments. It also forbids the State Board of Education from imposing negative consequences on schools or employees because of the number of opt-outs. 

One reason for the rising opt-out numbers is discontent with the SAGE (Student Assessment for Growth and Excellence) test. SAGE was developed for Utah by the American Institutes for Research, which is not an academic-assessment company but rather a behavioral-research organization. In increasing numbers, parents have concluded they don’t want their children subjected to problem-riddled testing that hasn’t been proven academically valid – especially when, as shown by Dr. Christopher Tienken, Common Core testing is designed more to centralize control over education policy than to benefit student learning.

The clash here, then, was between parents’ inherent right to govern their children’s education and indeed protect them from harm, as explicitly protected by state law, and federal mandates. Guess which won?

On May 31 the U.S. Department of Education (USED) denied the request for a waiver. USED found that a waiver wouldn’t “advance academic achievement” as required by the statutory waiver provision, because failure to force test participation would mean not all students were subjected to federally incentivized standards and federally mandated tests. 

Significantly, the denial letter came from Jason Botel, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, appointed to that position by DeVos. Mr. Botel is a shining example of the problematic personnel she has brought to the department – he publicly praised Common Core (which DeVos’s boss vigorously opposes), he supports a strong federal role in education, and he has spoken favorably of the radical group Black Lives Matter. His pro-federal-power predilections are clear in this dismissal of the Utah waiver request. 

Utah isn’t the only state to be slapped down by federal bureaucrats over the test-participation mandate. Colorado suffered the same fate until it reached a compromise with USED in early May, essentially establishing two different accountability systems – one state, one federal. And rather than fight for state and parental rights, Colorado educrats agreed to come up with more incentives to lure students into the statewide assessments.

The question is, will the Utah State Board of Education wilt under federal pressure, or will it stand and fight? At a hearing on this issue, local school board member Wendy Hart pointed out what’s at stake here – if the State Board backs down, thus forcing more students to undergo behavioral assessment aligned with Common Core, it will fail to uphold not only state law and the 10th Amendment to the federal Constitution but also the fundamental right of parents to educate and protect their children. 

Utah law is clear about who’s in charge of education: “A student’s parent or guardian is the primary person responsible for the education of the student, and the state is in a secondary and supportive role to the parent or guardian.” The Utah Supreme Court has identified “parents’ inherent right and authority to rear their own children” as “fundamental to our society and . . . basic to our constitutional order. . . .” In other words, what President Trump promised at his inauguration has actual statutory and judicial force in Utah.

Will the State Board of Education stand on these principles? Will Betsy DeVos? If not, both of them should be called to account. This should be a YUGE issue in Utah political races in November.

Bill Gates Can’t Leave ESSA State Plans Alone Either

Photo credit: World Economic Forum (CC-By-SA 2.0)

The Associated Press reported this morning that Bill Gates has poured millions into trying to influence state plans required under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

AP’s Sally Ho writes:

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates saw an opportunity with a new federal education law that has widespread repercussions for American classrooms.

His non-profit, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has given about $44 million to outside groups over the past two years to help shape new state education plans required under the 2015 law, according to an Associated Press analysis of its grants. The spending paid for research aligned with Gates interests, led to friendly media coverage and even had a hand in writing one state’s new education system framework.

The grants illustrate how strategic and immersive the Microsoft founder can be in pursuit of his education reform agenda, quietly wielding national influence over how schools operate. Gates’ carefully curated and intersecting web of influence is often invisible but allows his foundation to drive the conversation in support of its vision on how to reshape America’s struggling schools systems.

Critics call it meddling by a foundation with vast wealth and resources. The Gates Foundation says it’s simply helping states navigate a “tectonic” shift in responsibility for education — from the federal government to more local control.

Read the rest.

We call it meddling because it is. My gosh, it must be nice to be able to buy education policy. Since the millions and millions of dollars he poured into Common Core was a colossal waste he thought he would try to be more influential at the state level.

I wish educrats would use the critical thinking skills they believe Common Core will impart to students and ask one simple question. Have Gates-funded reforms have actually worked?

Largely no, but they have dollar signs in their eyes. It’s hard to say no to that cash and Gates has plenty of it.