Watch: Rethinking Federal Intervention in K-12 Education

The Heritage Foundation and Pioneer Institute co-hosted an event entitled “Rethinking Federal Intervention in K-12 Education” held at The Heritage Foundation on Thursday. 

The description for the event states: “After recent historic declines in student achievement following decades of increased federal involvement in K-12 education, it is time to re-think federal intervention in education.”

Panelists included:

  • Theodore Rebarber – CEO of AccountabilityWorks
  • Neal McCluskey – Director, Center for Educational Freedom, Cato Institute
  • Brad Thomas – Senior Education Policy Advisor, U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce
  • Patrick Wolf – Distinguished Professor of Education Policy, University of Arkansas
  • Jamie Gass – Director of the Center for School Reform, Pioneer Institute
  • Lindsey Burke – Director, Center for Education Policy and Will Skillman Fellow in Education, Heritage Foundation

Watch the panel discussion below:

Heritage Report: Common Core and the Centralization of American Education

The Heritage Foundation released a new report this month entitled Common Core and the Centralization of American Education. It is co-written by several well known names in the fight to oppose Common Core:

  • Lindsey M. Burke is the Will Skillman Fellow for Education in Domestic Policy Studies, of the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity, at The Heritage Foundation.
  • Neal McCluskey is director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute.
  • Theodor Rebarber is CEO and founder of AccountabilityWorks.
  • Stanley Kurtz is a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a contributing editor to National Review Online.
  • William A. Estrada is director of federal relations at the Home School Legal Defense Association.
  • Williamson M. Evers is a Research Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development.

Lindsey Burke who was the editor of the paper wrote in the introduction:

Stop a federal bureaucrat, a school teacher, and a parent on the street and you will likely hear three different observations about what education can, and should, do. The federal bureaucrat may respond in terms of what education should accomplish for the nation; the teacher might filter her response through the lens of her classroom; and the parent, naturally, will think in aspirational terms of what she hopes education can do for her child.

Considering these differing perspectives on the purpose of education provides insight into why opposition to Common Core has been strongest among parents and why national organizations and governors—responding to federal incentives to stick with the national standards and tests—have been slower to reverse course or even reconsider. National standards may provide useful information to state and federal policymakers, but they have driven curriculum and pedagogy in a direction that dissatisfies parents.

Read the paper here or below:

U.S. Senate Passes the Every Child Achieves Act 81-17

Photo credit: FEMA/Bill Koplitz (Public Domain)

Photo credit: FEMA/Bill Koplitz (Public Domain)

The U.S. Senate passed S.1177, the Every Child Achieves Act, on a 81 to 17 vote on Thursday afternoon spending seven days debating the bill.

The concerns addressed by American Principles in Action and others were largely not remedied by the amendment process.  On Wednesday an amendment offered by U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) fixed an omission of a key privacy and parental rights protection. Specifically, ECAA had omitted the requirement that the federally dictated statewide standardized tests “do not evaluate or assess personal or family beliefs and attitudes, or publicly disclose personally identifiable information.”

Emmett McGroarty, director of education for American Principles in Action said in a released statement on Thursday prior to the final vote, “This is a good start. However, this addresses only one of the severe privacy and data collection problems with ECAA. Much more needs to be done to protect children.”

The U.S. Senate also voted down amendments by U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) that would have affirmed a parent’s right to opt their students out from assessments, and an amendment from U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) that would have gutted the federal testing mandate.  Amendments proposed by U.S. Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Steve Daines (R-MT) that would have restored more local and state control also failed.

Several education policy experts are not pleased with the bill.

“This proposal does little if anything to restore state and local control of education. Moreover, it sets the stage for increased federal spending in the near future. The amendment included from Sen. Burr to change the funding formula for Title I does so once funding for the Title increases to $17 billion – nearly $3 billion over where it currently stands – likely creating momentum to increase spending in the near-term in order to achieve the funding change,” Lindsey Burke, the Will Skillman Fellow in Education, at the Heritage Foundation told Truth in American Education.

“The proposal still dictates testing schedules to states, maintains a labyrinth of federal programs, and perpetuates the notion that education dollars are best earmarked for school districts instead of students. It was, and remains, a huge missed opportunity for conservatives to restore dollars and decision-making to those closer situated to students,” Burke added.

“It is unfortunate that civil rights groups seem to think that billions of dollars for the education of low-income children will be useful, when in 50 years, the needle hasn’t moved in reading.  And the needle won’t move, so long as re-authorizations of ESEA allow the bulk of Title I money to be spent on the costs associated with hiring academically underqualified Reading teachers and aides.  Why civil rights groups think that is a quid pro quo, they need to explain to those of us who think low-income children would benefit from academically qualified teachers,” retired University of Arkansas professor of education reform Sandra Stotsky said in a statement made to Truth in American Education.

“I think two things are clear from the bill’s passage. First, it’s clear that politicians don’t feel safe rolling back the federal role in education. Some of them tell us they believe in this, but most of them don’t actually do it. So voters need to start holding them accountable, with all the usual means: Asking cranky questions in townhalls, calling their offices when votes like this come up, and primarying them if they don’t respond,” Joy Pullmann, education research fellow at the Heartland Institute, told Truth in American Education.

“Second, I also think it’s clear that politicians feel safe ignoring their constituents’ desires on education. Look, both the left and the right want testing reduced and real data privacy protections enacted. These are bipartisan issues. But our bipartisan leaders aren’t listening. They should pay for that. If they don’t, well, it’s clear they’re right: That voters don’t really care about education, so we’re going to let the kleptocracy continue to run everything from Washington,” Pullmann added.

The roll call of the vote:

YEAs —81
Alexander (R-TN)
Ayotte (R-NH)
Baldwin (D-WI)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bennet (D-CO)
Blumenthal (D-CT)
Boozman (R-AR)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Burr (R-NC)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Capito (R-WV)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Cassidy (R-LA)
Coats (R-IN)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Coons (D-DE)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Cotton (R-AR)
Donnelly (D-IN)
Durbin (D-IL)
Enzi (R-WY)
Ernst (R-IA)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Fischer (R-NE)
Franken (D-MN)
Gardner (R-CO)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Heinrich (D-NM)
Heitkamp (D-ND)
Heller (R-NV)
Hirono (D-HI)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johnson (R-WI)
Kaine (D-VA)
King (I-ME)
Kirk (R-IL)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Lankford (R-OK)
Leahy (D-VT)
Manchin (D-WV)
Markey (D-MA)
McCain (R-AZ)
McCaskill (D-MO)
McConnell (R-KY)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Murray (D-WA)
Perdue (R-GA)
Peters (D-MI)
Portman (R-OH)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Roberts (R-KS)
Rounds (R-SD)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schatz (D-HI)
Schumer (D-NY)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Sullivan (R-AK)
Tester (D-MT)
Thune (R-SD)
Tillis (R-NC)
Toomey (R-PA)
Udall (D-NM)
Warner (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wicker (R-MS)
Wyden (D-OR)
NAYs —17
Blunt (R-MO)
Booker (D-NJ)
Crapo (R-ID)
Cruz (R-TX)
Daines (R-MT)
Flake (R-AZ)
Lee (R-UT)
Moran (R-KS)
Murphy (D-CT)
Paul (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Rubio (R-FL)
Sasse (R-NE)
Scott (R-SC)
Shelby (R-AL)
Vitter (R-LA)
Warren (D-MA)
Not Voting – 2
Graham (R-SC) Nelson (D-FL)

Common Core Sees Defeat at the Ballot Box

polling-booth.jpgLindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation did a great job highlighting losses for Common Core advocates on Tuesday at National Review.  Here’s a list:

  1. It appears that Common Core critic, Diane Douglas, will be elected as Arizona’s Superintendent for Public Instruction.
  2. Richard Woods, another Common Core critic, won as Georgia’s Superintendent of Education.
  3. Molly Spearman is expected to follow Governor Nikki Haley’s lead on Common Core as South Carolina’s State Superintendent of Education.
  4. Jillian Barlow, Wyoming’s Superintendent-elect, has promised a review of the Common Core.

Where Common Core was a primary issue, those who advocated for it lost.

Advocates are trying to spin this result by pointing to gubernatorial races.

While pro-Common Core superintendent candidates had a rough night, the national situation is more balanced after taking into account gubernatorial races, argues Karen Nussle of the Collaborative for Student Success, a group that defends the standards. Common Core was a central issue in four races, she said in a memo given to The Daily Caller News Foundation, and in three of them the pro-Common Core candidate came out ahead. In New York and Colorado, incumbent Democrats Andrew Cuomo and John Hickenlooper defeated Republican challengers who had targeted their support for Common Core. In Pennsylvania, meanwhile, Democratic Core supporter Tom Wolf unseated Republican Tom Corbett, who reversed his past support of the standards in the run-up to the election and had pledged to seek a full repeal if re-elected. Only in Arizona, where Doug Ducey won an open-seat race against Fred Duval, did a Common Core opponent carry the day in a race where the standards were a significant issue, Nussle said.

Spin aside, it is abundantly clear that advocates in certain races lost because of their support.  I highly doubt that advocates won because of their support.  Gubernatorial races are complex and have a plethora of issues involved that impact the outcome of the race.

Common Core at #CPAC2014

Senator Ted Cruz

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaking at CPAC

Common Core, as an issue, has been largely absent from CPAC – at least in the Potomac Ballroom.  Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) discussed it during a bloggers briefing when I asked him about the silence at the conference yesterday.  Today, Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) came closest when he said the Constitution doesn’t give the right to “federalize the classroom.”  He called for the Federal government to roll back to what the Constitution actually allows.

There was a panel discussion yesterday on Common Core sponsored by the Hertiage Foundation.  Below is my recap from my liveblog yesterday at Caffeinated Thoughts (go to the bottom and read up).

4:25p: Session is wrapping up. My iPad keyboard needs charging and the blog able aspects of the conference is about over. Signing this off for the day. One last comment from Stergios: If the Common Core assessments die, the Common Core dies.

4:21p: Mike Huckabee was pointed out by a member of the audience. Stergios defended to a point saying that Governors Huckabee and Jindal are coming at this from a perspective of having poor state standards. Solution should have come from the state.

4:18p: Stergios: Voucher programs in Indiana, Ohio and Indiana have come with strings attached, Common Core aligned assessments.

4:17p: Stergios: Common Core ends with Algebra II-lite. Will not prepare student for STEM.

4:16p: Stergios: Experimental approach to geometry developed by Soviets, has never been successful, and is required by Common Core.

4:14p: Stergios: All of the reading research shows that focusing on great literature and poetry expands and deepens a kid’s vocabulary. Informational text doesn’t do that.

4:13p: Stergios: At least $16 Billion will be spent by states and localities to implement this. But the spending goes far beyond what Pioneer’s cost report indicates.

4:11p: Stergios: LBJ & Carter realized that national curriculum, standards, & assessments were a bridge too far, and yet there are friends among us who think this is conservative.

4:09p: Stergios: NGA/CCSSO process was far different than actual state-led process. Common Core did not have any public hearings, did not involve teachers like state education reforms had, and did not involve parents.

4:07p: Stergios: Reasons why people are coming out now. It’s costly. Federal power grab, Moms who see homework come home that shocks, Common Core back dooring into private options.

4:04p: Stergios: Common Core is a homogenized, top-down fad in education that forces compliance and will kill innovation.

4:03p: Enlow: True accountability comes from parents.

3:59p: Enlow says it says a lot about Obama that he defunded DC scholarship program, worked against Louisiana voucher program and then funded Race to the Top. Common Core is homogenized and doesn’t provide choice. Says Association of Christian Schools International and Catholics aligned because we need to strengthen our private sector.

3:57p: Enlow cites school voucher program in Indiana. Program has drained Indianapolis public schools that the district wanted a bill that allows them to take over schools and get rid of unions. Ft. Wayne public schools had to door knock.

3:54p: Enlow: Parents should be in charge of education. Parents should have choice. “I run the competing vision in the nation.”

3:53p: Schlafly: “Common Core gives liberal a backdoor for bringing in propaganda.” Via focus on informational text.

3:51p: Schlafly discusses ELA text which is “well aligned” with Common Core.

3:49p: Schlafly: Math using constructivist approach, ELA standards using new textual criticism, not the joy of reading.

3:48p: Schlafly: Discussing how standards are now tied to statewide longitudinal data gathering. Law was supposed to protect against this, but FERPA was gutted.

3:47p: Schlafly: “Aligned” is the new magic word.

3:44p: Schlafly: goes through failed education reforms. She states that the goal is to have national control of curriculum through common standards and assessments.

3:37p: Schlafly: Common Core is the hottest issue with the grassroots.

3:31p: At the Common Core workshop with Lindsey Burke of Heritage Foundation, Jim Stergios of the Pioneer Institute, Robert Enlow of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, and Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum.

Photo credit: Dave Davidson –

Video: Confronting the Common Core Event in Tennessee

Video from the April 30th event, Confronting the Common Core, in Franklin, TN was recently released.  Speakers included Jamie Gass of The Pioneer Institute, Lindsey Burke of The Heritage Foundation, Bill Evers of the Hoover Institution, and Emmett McGroarty & Jane Robbins of American Principles Project.

Stopping Common Core is Only the Beginning

As parents have encountered Common Core in their children’s classrooms, then sought information about what it means, we’ve seen a nationwide brushfire of alarm. Parents must know Common Core did not randomly appear. I’m not talking about how it was created and advocated by the Gates Foundation, National Governors Association, and Council of Chief State School Officers, but the entire education edifice they represent that ensures ending Common Core will not prevent Common Core 2.0, just like stopping national education standards in Congress did not preclude Common Core.

Common Core is an outgrowth of the big business-big government consensus that dominates education and, because the mainstream education system reaches virtually every future voting citizen, is increasingly dominating every area of our lives. Name one sector of life or the economy where people are truly free in this country, or truly have the ability to influence decisions others make in our names. I dare you. In my state, a supposedly conservative one, we can’t even drink milk from a neighbor’s cow, which I did my entire childhood with only rosy cheeks to show for it. We can’t choose health insurance providers, can’t defend our property from robbers, can’t opt our children out of the Common Core complex even by homeschooling. Even in public education, we can’t choose our schools, can’t decide what we’ll pay for them, and can’t get supposedly representative school boards to give us the time of day.

Because I am a mother who lives in a hectic home with two toddlers and a tiny one on the way, I entirely understand why parents only tune in to things like this when they enter our backyards. My point is that, as tired as you are, as distracted, and as consumed with your mortgage and braces and packed lunches, this battle did not start upon reaching your door and it will not stop after it seems to have left. Pushing this away from merely your own gates only means it will reach them again, or will reach your children’s with much greater force.

The Gates Foundation has not run out of money, and neither have the others. No bureaucrats or well-credentialed but poorly experienced think tank figureheads will stop pushing nationalized education if parents, at great time and personal expense, manage to rout their glorious Common Core. They will simply prepare sharper initiatives and tighter sanctions for the next round, still using your forcibly extracted money. The Obama administration and our state departments of education already have spent and are spending billions in our tax dollars, or debt for future generations, on this entirely experimental bureaucrat acid trip.

Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. We and our ancestors have not been vigilant. No wonder we are not free.

Unlike progressives, I believe history has much instruction for us today. It demonstrates without a doubt that central planning causes frustration and misery. And it shows that a small band of brothers and sisters can, by courageously speaking truth to power, end that misery for their children and less attentive neighbors. But whether Common Core fades quickly or slowly, we must always understand it is only one head of the hydra, and we want all of them, stuffed, on our walls. The alternative is leaving an angrier, smarter monster for our kids.

I spoke in a similar vein about this recently at the Heritage Foundation with Lindsey Burke.

Reclaiming Education Freedom: The Fight to Stop Common Core National Standards and Tests

The Heritage Foundation and Claire Boothe Luce Foundation had a great event for conservative women discussing the Common Core. I caught about the last 20 minutes of it. Lindsey Burke of Heritage spoke first, then Joy Pullmann of the Heartland Institute gave her remarks. They ended with a brief Q&A session. The video is now available which you can watch below.


John Stossel Discusses Common Core

John Stossel on Fox Business discussed the Common Core State Standards with Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation and Kathleen Porter-Magee of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

You can watch below:

Porter-Magee said that “they” were amazed when so many states signed on.  Yeah, we were amazed too, but for different reasons I’d suspect.

HT: The Foundry

Lessons from Iowa on Fighting for Local Control

Lindsey Burke of The Heritage Foundation had an op/ed published in Deseret News entitled “Lessons for Utah from Iowa: Fight for control of education.”  She wrote:

If the centralizing impact of the Obama education waivers wasn’t already clear, the recent decision by the U.S. Department of Education to issue its first waiver rejection to Iowa — a state well known for its history of local control — makes it unambiguous that the waivers are designed to increase federal control over education.

Why was the Hawkeye state denied this alleged flexibility? Evidently, Iowa’s long-standing legacy of school district autonomy prevented the state from being eligible for a waiver.

The U.S. Department of Education informed Iowa that it would have to implement a statewide teacher evaluation system if it hoped to receive a waiver. Because the legislature hasn’t vested the state department of education with the authority to mandate such regulations on school districts, Iowa can’t meet the federal government’s condition.

Unfortunately many outside of Iowa aren’t aware of our Governor, Terry Branstad’s push for the centralization of education and the fact he chastised the Legislature for not giving up on local control

Burke then goes on to discuss options that exist for flexibility without the strings attached:

One of the more frustrating aspects of the NCLB waiver issue is the fact that an alternative to NCLB that provides genuine flexibility for states exists, and doesn’t carry with it the strings associated with the waivers. For years now, conservatives in Congress have championed the Academic Partnerships Lead Us To Success Act, or A-PLUS, which would allow states to completely opt-out of NCLB.

States that choose to opt-out would be empowered to use their share of federal funding for any lawful education purpose under state law. And if a state can demonstrate over a five year period that it is able to improve student outcomes, the state can continue to enjoy that flexibility.

It’s a far better approach than further concentrating power in the halls of the Department of Education, which is the outcome we can expect if the White House waivers continue.