The ​U.S. Department of Education Will Reorganize in January

The U.S. Department of Education will undergo an internal reorganization set for January 6th, but will take several months to implement, CNN reports:

The new Education Department structure consolidates a number of offices within the agency. The Office of the Secretary will merge with the Office of the Deputy Secretary. The Office of the Chief Financial Officer will merge with the Office of Management to become a new Office of Finance and Operations, according to the email.

The new Office of Finance and Operations will also take on certain responsibilities of other agency offices including the Office of the Chief Information Officer, Office of the Deputy Secretary, and the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, according to the email.

 The Office of Innovation and Improvement will also “integrate” into the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The internal email that CNN was provided did not say how many positions would be cut, but the department spokesperson, Liz Hill, said no full-time positions would be cut. The email stated the reorganization was due to, “an administration-wide commitment to making government more efficient, effective, and accountable.”

The Trump Administration in June recommended merging the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor to form the U.S. Department of Education and the Workforce. That merger needs Congressional approval, something I think was going to have difficulty passing even when Republicans controlled both chambers. I definitely don’t see it happening with a divided Congress. 

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:

A New Student Privacy Policy Office to Be Created for U.S. Department of Education

Politico reported yesterday that one of the upcoming changes at the U.S. Department of Education will be the rcreation of a new Student Privacy Policy Office.

Caitlin Emma writes:

— Other changes that haven’t been reported include the creation of a new Student Privacy Policy Office, which would be housed under the department’s Office of Planning Evaluation and Policy Development. The new approach would essentially break up the current Office of the Chief Privacy Officer, which has been housed under the Office of Management. The Education Department’s former chief privacy officer, Kathleen Styles, was reassigned earlier this year. 

— The new Student Privacy Policy Office would be created by combining and moving two offices out of the Office of the Chief Privacy Officer — the Student Privacy Policy and Assistance Division and the Family Policy Compliance Division. A new rulemaking effort would amend the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the federal law that protects the privacy of student education records, so the Family Policy Compliance Office can administer the law.

— The Student Privacy Policy Office would be charged with providing student privacy assistance to states and school districts, in addition to investigating FERPA complaints. The position of chief privacy officer will move over to the Office of the Chief Information Officer, which has historically dealt with information technology issues. The chief privacy officer would have jurisdiction over issues related to the Privacy Act, which regulates federal record-keeping, and other privacy safeguards.

FERPA desperately needs to be updated, but unless schools, states, and the Feds stop collecting student data, privacy will always be an issue.

A Day That Shall Live In Infamy (For Those of Us Who Hate Fed Ed)

President Carter signed the Department of Education Organization Act on Oct. 17, 1979.

On this day 39 years ago, President Jimmy Carter signed the Department of Education Organization Act creating the U.S. Department of Education.

Three years prior, American celebrated its bicentennial. We had existed as a nation without the U.S. Department of Education for over 200 years. Children received a quality education, we saw significant advancements in technology, and even sent men to the moon without the U.S. Department of Education.

Congress and President Carter in their *infinite wisdom* created a federal department that had no constitutional basis that no Congress or President since has reduced in any meaningful way. 

When the Department was created Congress declared its purposes, from the Department’s website:

  1. to strengthen the Federal commitment to ensuring access to equal educational opportunity for every individual;
  2. to supplement and complement the efforts of States, the local school systems and other instrumentalities of the States, the private sector, public and private educational institutions, public and private nonprofit educational research institutions, community-based organizations, parents, and students to improve the quality of education;
  3. to encourage the increased involvement of the public, parents, and students in Federal education programs;
  4. to promote improvements in the quality and usefulness of education through federally supported research, evaluation, and sharing of information;
  5. to improve the coordination of Federal education programs;
  6. to improve the management and efficiency of Federal education activities, especially with respect to the process, procedures, and administrative structures for the dispersal of Federal funds, as well as the reduction of unnecessary and duplicative burdens and constraints, including unnecessary paperwork, on the recipients of Federal funds; and
  7. to increase the accountability of Federal education programs to the President, the Congress and the public. (Section 102, Public Law 96-88)

The U.S. Department of Education notes that in the 1860s the federal government had a budget of $15,000 (roughly the equivalent of $456,000 in 2018) and four employees that handled “education fact-finding.” By 1965, when the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was passed as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” the Office of Education (that was part of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare) had 2,100 employees and a budget of $1.5 billion. Now the Department has a workforce of 3,912 and their largest budget to date – $71.5 Billon.

And what results has it had to improve student achievement since its inception?

None, but yet we keep wasting money on this unconstitutional department.

HT: U.S. Parents Involved in Education

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.

U.S. Parents Involved in Education

Ill-advised Opposition to Rescindment of Fed School Discipline Guidance

Tom Perez rolled out a disparate impact analysis for school disciple cases.

On August 24, 2018, eleven state attorneys general (AGs) sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and U.S. Attorney General Jeff  Sessions on the letterhead of California’s Office of the Attorney General. The letter was sent via e-mail to the School Safety Commission regarding “States opposition to withdrawal of School Discipline Guidance Package.” Clearly, the AGs were acting in their capacity as officials elected to execute the duties of the “People’s Lawyers.” One would think that the AGs should be concerned about officials in the federal government complying with the rule of law. Sadly, however, the eleven signatories, (all Democrat, and ten whose states did not support the current administration in the 2016 presidential election) are likely politicizing their offices – making a tacit threat of filing a lawsuit should the January 2014 School Discipline Guidance Package be rescinded. After all, filing lawsuits is what AGs do.

Their letter should be interpreted in the context of former U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Tom Perez’s roll-out of disparate impact analysis as described in the January 8, 2014 “Dear Colleague” letter which is one of the four components of the package. Perez, current Chair of the Democratic National Committee, rolled out his new interpretation of the Civil Rights Act in an invitation-only conference of civil rights lawyers hosted by the ED and DOJ in Washington, DC on September 27 and 28, 2010. The conference was entitled, “Civil Rights and School Discipline, Addressing Disparities to Ensure Educational Opportunity.” Readers should question how many of the AGs signing the letter to DeVos and Sessions had received special invitations to attend that conference.

At the conference, Perez announced that the DOJ would use a disparate impact analysis on school discipline cases to determine whether school districts’ policies were racially discriminatory. In other words, Perez introduced a policy derived from Critical Race Theory taught at Harvard Law School, Perez’s alma mater. Disparate impact analysis presumes districts are guilty of racism until proven innocent, even without an actual complaint filed. That presumption is inconsistent with America’s legal tradition and aligned with and UCLA’s School of Law, not with the U.S. Constitution the AGs have sworn to support and defend. Readers should ask why the AGs invoked civil rights as justification for their concerns when Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not address discrepancies data reported for racial groups, such as that reported in the CRDC; instead, it addresses intentional racial discrimination against “persons.”

The March GAO report prominently discussed in the AGs’ letter stated explicitly in Appendix I that parent education or household type (single-versus multiple-headed household) could be related to student behaviors resulting in disciplinary actions analyzed. The report also stated,  “Results of our analyses are associational and do not imply a causal relationship because, for example, CRDC data were not gathered by a randomized controlled trial, where students would be randomized to attend schools with certain characteristics.”

The AGs do not consider that ED and DOJ’s joint “significant guidance” on its face violates the Final Bulletin for Agency Good Guidance Practices § IV, OMB Memorandum M-07-07. “Section II(2)(h) clarifies that, given their legally non-binding nature, significant guidance documents should not include mandatory language such as ‘‘shall,’’ ‘‘must,’’ ‘‘required’’ or ‘‘requirement,’’ unless the agency is using these words to describe a statutory or regulatory requirement, or the language is addressed to agency staff and will not foreclose consideration by the agency of positions advanced by affected private parties.” Despite the OMB’s prohibition, the January 2014 “Dear Colleague” letter employs the prohibited language. While purporting not to impose legal requirements, ED-DOJ used their administrative powers to rewrite Title VI and embedded the new policy in the January 2014 “Dear Colleague” letter. This type of overreach by Departments in the executive branch is not new as the D.C. Circuit observed in Appalachian Power v EPA.

If the AGs really understood the effects of disparate impact analysis on school discipline in minority-majority school districts, they may better understand how the School Discipline Guidance Package actually endangers all students regardless of race, color, religion, or national origin – but perhaps they interpret endangerment for victimization by peers as equal opportunity. It is difficult to justify the content and tenor of the AGs letter in light of the history of the January 2014 “Dear Colleague” letter and the weak evidence the AGs used to defend it. It is inexplicable how they could defend the letter in their official capacity as AGs; but easily explained in the context of their political affiliation.

USPIE: Merger Will Compound Harmful Federal Education Mandates

Education Secretary Betsy DeVoss and President Donald Trump at St. Andrew Catholic School in Orlando, FL

Last week, U.S. Parents Involved in Education (USPIE) released a statement critical of the Trump Administration’s proposed merger of the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Labor to create the U.S. Department of Education and the Workforce. 

Read the statement below:

USPIE opposes all efforts to convert American education into a workforce development system and opposes enabling massive data collection of citizens, especially children, facilitated and coordinated by the Federal government. USPIE believes the effort to make this dramatic conversion through government schools is misunderstood by most Americans and nearly all elected officials.

The mission of USPIE is to close the US Department of Education (USED) and end all Federal education mandates. The merger proposed by President Trump’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to combine the Federal Education and Labor Departments directly contradicts USPIE’s primary goal.

USPIE recognizes the intended goals of the merger — smaller government, streamlining, and saving taxpayers’ money — are all positive efforts. However, USPIE cannot support the merger because it moves the ball in the wrong direction for ending workforce development-based education and the collection of data from children. In fact, the proposed streamlining could make these troubling Federal education mandates more entrenched, more powerful and more destructive. Despite departmental staffing and cost reduction efforts, USED continues to usurp local and parental control in the heavy-handed oversight of ESSA State Plans, and by over-ruling State laws protecting parental rights. Likewise, State ESSA Plans impose Common Core-aligned standards and tests on all schools without local school board approval.

The Executive Order initiating the OMB Reform Plan, which recommends the merger, says the plan; “shall include, as appropriate, recommendations to eliminate unnecessary agencies, components of agencies, and agency programs, and merge functions;” and
“shall consider… whether some or all the functions of an agency, a component, or a program are appropriate for the Federal Government or would be better left to State or local governments or to the private sector through free enterprise…” 

USPIE firmly believes education is best left to States, local communities and parents. 

OMB utterly neglected the opportunity provided by the Executive Order to at least begin this process.

Moreover, the OMB Reform Plan itself says:
               “It is no longer appropriate to avoid having foundational discussions about services that might be better served by direct State, local, or even private-sector stewardship.” 

USPIE welcomes the opportunity presented by the merger proposal to engage elected officials and the American public in a discussion about workforce development education and massive data collection of children mandated by the Federal government through both USED and the Department of Labor. 

If the goal of President Trump’s merger is to save tax payers money, and if President Trump is still interested in ending Common Core and returning control of education to parents and communities, following the USPIE Blueprint to close the Department of Education is a much better plan and one that has the support of many American parents who want to make American education great again!

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?

The Public/Private Takeover of Education

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.

The proposed merger of U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Labor will hurt our kids, and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wants parents to concede to the public/private takeover in education. Unfortunately, we are well on our way. Facts are facts, and regardless of what state you live in, initiatives for Public/Private takeover are common and homogenized for all states.  Let’s take my state of Minnesota for example.   

Standardized testing requirements and opt-out:  In May of 2017, the Minnesota Business Partnership pressured our Minnesota Senators to financially incentivize school districts, so that schools would earn more money when students tested at a higher percentage beyond the Federal 95% participation requirement.  During the hearing, it was postulated that Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA’s)/Pearson participation would soar to near 100% as others noted the outcome would remove parental voice and rights to opt out their children out of the federal-corporate corruption.   

Additionally, our legislature gave away the parental authority of writing a parental opt-out letter to the MDE, who was tasked with writing a “Commissioner’s Opt-Out Letter.”  Thanks to early ESSA documents Minnesota jumped into line with labeling opt-out kids as “non-proficient”.

Ultimately that changed, but only after intense testimony and parents taking a stand.  Later, it was discovered the MDE didn’t update their commissioner opt-out form so that schools and parents could understand the new law, creating mixed messages for parents and the public on the latest MDE changes.  

Local control has taken on an entirely new meaning, as reports came in that school boards bullied parents into believing they had no right to opt their child out of standardized testing without themselves going through a senseless barrage of red tape paperwork.  

Data collection:  In Minnesota, our state statute governing education and technology dates back to 1980, with relatively few updates since according to Minnesota legislator Eric Lucero who chief authored several data protection bills.  Yet, even after five years of pounding the pavement at the grassroots level, legislators can’t seem to get a bill passed due to the collusion of businesses and big industry involvement in our education system as seen this past legislative session.  

That’s not to say businesses and business leaders are “bad.”  That’s not to say that learning a trade is “bad.”  What is in serious question is the level of comingling of both government and business affairs in education as young as preschool, hence the further invasion of unethical data collection on children as young as three.  Why?  So they can cram a child into yet another cookie cutter mold to fit a corporate model.  How’s that for innovation?

World’s Best Workforce:  This is our own Minnesota duplicate of Federal education laws:  Goals 2000, School-to-Work, No Child Left Behind and lastly, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and business organizations and foundations (aka Chamber of Commerce) which was pushed on our schools which before it was fashionable to the degree we see today.   

U.S. Congress:  One of the saddest moments in education regarding the recent, and incredible, “happy bi-partisanship” under the Obama administration was through the passage of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  Not only did Congress codify Common Core in ESSA, but this version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) allowed furthering the highly controversial and manipulative Social Emotional Learning (SEL).  SEL is nothing more than glorified psychological profiling, making teacher’s unlicensed social psychologists when they actually should be teaching, as well as replacing logic with emotion when approaching subjects and problem-solving.  

FEPA, FERPA, and SELDS:  Did you ever in your life wonder how our government can keep up with their own acronym creations?  We have legislators running education roundtables that don’t even know what ESSA means, nor its implications regarding both family and education data privacy.  President Trump did sign new guidance guidelines for state education agencies and school districts on their responsibility to protect student privacy when facilitating college-admissions tests such as SAT and ACT.  However, this has still left grassroots education leaders fed up with years such a disorganized top-down government agenda in education.  

Here’s a hint:  Please stop trying to reinvent the wheel with more initiatives.  While encouraging on the surface, there is still very far to go, being that our state has signed onto nearly every Federal Education initiative available (just follow the money).   We have not yet heard anything on how FERPA will be given back to the parents, rather than a school entity and global industry who is controlling where a child’s data goes and who it gets sold to.  President Trump’s campaign promise was to dismantle the Federal Department of Education and get rid of Common Core, not merge more departments and create an even bigger form of government in education.  

All this being said – and this is so small in comparison to the larger issues at hand – I have seen nothing concrete on the dismantling of Fed Ed and how that will be handled, only that there is a proposed merger between the two departments.  Frankly, this tells me nothing as a parent, a concerned citizen and active grassroots participant.  

I will end my comment here with a quote I told our Minnesota Education Chair last summer upon testifying before committee: “Madam Chair, with respect, it’s about Liberty.” I believe Ms. DeVos needs to hear just that. Fed Ed doesn’t need reorganizing – it needs dismantling and dismantling should NOT include a merger with the Department of Labor.

What we need is a REPEAL of the workforce law in our education system, pull back the latest version of ESEA, then dramatically reduce the reach of the USDED.  Sprinkle in FERPA reform and we may just have a chance at dismantling a system that has broken local control and parental voice.