Sen. David Vitter’s (R-LA) office told Breitbart News on Sunday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) blocked out legislation attached to the “CRomnibus” bill that would have stopped the federal government from mandating that states “adopt specific academic standards, including the Common Core standards.”
In a press release on Monday, Vitter announced that his legislation would instead be an amendment to the federal spending bill just passed by Congress. The measure, titled the “Local Control of Education Act,” would have permitted “states that do not accept the Common Core standards to still qualify for federal grants and contracts currently limited to states that are in compliance with the standards.”
“I’ve fought tooth and nail for local control of education and against the enormous growth of federal power under President Obama,” the statement read. “That includes prohibiting the federal government from mandating, coercing, or bribing states to adopt Common Core or its equivalent. My legislation would get rid of the federal government’s ability to force states into adopting federal standards.”
Red State -
There are many things to hate about Common Core standards. From convoluted, unsolvable math problems, to an increased reliance on soulless standardized testing, to a lack of local control and adaptation to individual circumstances, just about everyone can find something to object to. One of the most concerning aspects of the program, however, is the invasive collection of personal data from students, an area that has received far too little attention in media discussions of education.
All states opting into Common Core have agreed to substantially expand their State Longitudinal Data Services program, which allows schools to collect and store student data. In exchange for this enhanced data collection, states received federal grants from Race to the Top, essentially a cash prize for schools that do things the Department of Education wants them to do under the blanket terms “innovation,” “reform,” and “excellence.”
The exact nature and extent of the data to be collected remains the subject of disagreement. Several groups are alleging that extremely sensitive personal information, such as mental health info, is being collected, although this has been denied by state Departments of Education. The words and actions of government officials, however, tell a different story, and indicate that we should be loath to take such dismissals at face value.
This past week, possible GOP 2016 presidential contender Jeb Bush doubled down on his support for the Common Core standards, scolding conservative critics of the controversial education reform by stating that he had “lost patience” with them and telling them they were not needed by moderate Republicans to win the White House.
With polls showing Republican support for Common Core plummeting, common sense would dictate that Bush call it a day with the nationalized standards, as has been done by other Republicans, such as Maine Gov. Paul LePage and U.S. Sen. David Vitter, who plans to run for governor of Louisiana next year.
However, as a review of Bush’s history with the education initiative demonstrates, his interest in pushing onto the entire nation the reforms he introduced while governor of Florida – and his methods for doing so – have led his critics to claim he is more about big government crony capitalism than concern for children’s education.
Bush is the founder of several organizations that all play into a reported strategy that involves not only motivating “the people” at large for changes in education, but also using state education officials to administratively make some of those changes happen without the scrutiny or approval of the public.
Truth in American Education -
by Shane Vander Hart,
I wrote yesterday that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has decided (for now) not to take sides in a dispute between Chicago Public Schools and the Illinois Department of Education over PARCC. CPS says they want to delay taking PARCC for a year due to concerns they have. Illinois says let’s pull the trigger this spring and phase out the Prairie State Achievement Examination and Illinois Standards Achievement Test.
Valarie Strauss reports at The Washington Post that a school administrator in Evanston, IL gave a “damning account” of Illinois’ initiative.
Damning is right. This is an absolute disaster in the making.
Peter Bavis, who is the associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction for Evanston Township High School District 202, said in part during school board meeting focused on PARCC.
The PARCC test is neither valid nor reliable as a measure. And the reason for that is that it has never been given to a large population. So we’re paying to have a private testing company norm their instrument on the backs of Illinois students. That’s a big problem.
I’d say that’s a big problem. He also sent a memo detailing other concerns which you can read below.
Truth in American Education -
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush defended the Common Core State Standards in his keynote speech at the Foundation for Educational Excellence’s National Summit on Education Reform yesterday. He’s the only prospective Republican presidential candidate to do so. He are a few things he said about Common Core.
This is why the debate over the Common Core State Standards has been troubling. I respect those who have weighed in on all sides of this issue. Nobody in this debate has a bad motive. But let’s take a step back from this debate for a second. This morning over 213 million Chinese students went to school, and nobody debated whether academic expectations should be lowered in order to protect the students’ self-esteem. Yet in Orange County, Florida, that exact debate did occur. And so the school board voted to make it impossible for a student to receive a grade below a 50. You get 50 out of 100 just for showing up and signing your name. This was done, and I quote here from a local official, so the students “do not lose all hope.”
Republicans have retaken control of Congress on a promise to reverse President Barack Obama’s failed policies. They should start by honing in on an initiative now synonymous with federal overreach and creeping nationalization of local education matters: the new Common Core national curriculum standards, which give parents everywhere nightmares about their kids’ trendy, incomprehensible math homework assignments.
The GOP should tell Obama to back off and stop forcing the standards down the throats of various state legislatures. In doing so, Republicans would draw praise from Common Core’s many critics—including conservatives and libertarians, parents, and even teachers—but also some of its most devout proponents, who believe federal involvement has resulted in nothing but bad PR for the initiative.
Illinois Raise Your Hand
Statement from More than a Score-
Recently, the Superintendent of the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) distributed inaccurate information about a student’s ability to opt-out of state tests. In the “Weekly Message” dated 10/28/2014 from Chris Koch on the ISBE website it is stated that “students may not opt out of the PARCC assessment,” and that “a district that allows students to opt out of the state’s required test would directly violate both federal and state law.”
The law regarding students’ refusing state mandated accountability testing has not changed since last year. State and federal law say that schools must administer these tests, but not that children must take them.
Federal law (NCLB) requires states receiving Title I funds to create a statewide assessment that “provides for the participation in such assessments of all students”. State law, created to comply with NCLB, is that “the State Board of Education shall annually assess all students enrolled in grades 3 through 8 in English language arts and mathematics.” So, these are duties for the government to perform.
They are not obligations for action by the students. Additionally, ISBE acknowledges in many places that children may refuse testing. ISBE general counsel conceded that students cannot be compelled to take these exams.