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Brief Summary — Letter to Congress on ESEA Rewrite

Oct 19, 2015 by

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Brief Summary — Letter to Congress on ESEA Rewrite

By Henry W. Burke

10.19.15

 

The government is not satisfied at stopping with “kindergarten Common Core;” it also wants “baby Common Core.” 

Congress is using the public’s dissatisfaction with NCLB to push for even more onerous legislation!

 

A national grassroots coalition sent a thoroughly-referenced letter to the Congressional leaders on October 13, 2015.  The Letter addresses the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the pending congressional action.  This is the Letter from the national coalition:

http://www.flstopcccoalition.org/files/340E4386-4C72-4839-A8DC-2F671AF25561–0B810B12-A6E9-4D7F-9414-7DC79D4D7940/congressional-esea-letter-final.pdf

This is the Official Press Release (from Education Liberty Watch) that accompanied the Letter:

http://edlibertywatch.org/2015/10/for-immediate-release-national-coalition-opposes-no-child-left-behind-rewrite-conference-bill/

This summer, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Bill HR 5 – Student Success Act (SSA); and the U. S. Senate passed Senate Bill S1177 – Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA).  The two bills are now in Conference.

The Letter strongly encourages the Representatives and Senators to suspend Conference negotiations until a new President is elected in 2016.  Any education bill that Obama would sign does not follow the rule of law and Constitution, and would be completely unacceptable to millions of families and students. 

Such legislation imposes the Common Core Standards, excessive high-stakes testing, massive intrusive data collection, and unconstitutional psychological profiling.

In short –

Wait on reauthorizing ESEA until we have a President who believes in the Constitution and who will sign a constitutional bill!

The Letter was signed by 18 national organizations and education activist leaders, and by 180 state organizations in 45 statesClearly this testifies to the broad-based support for the Letter from grassroots organizations across the country.

 

The Letter expressed the following concerns with the reauthorization bills:

  1. Federal Involvement in Standards Development

Through the Race to the Top (RTTT) program, the federal government (U.S. Department of Education – USED) offered $4.35 billion in grants to the states.  Joanne Weiss, Director of the RTTT program, has admitted that this coercion was used to get the states to adopt the Common Core Standards. 

Coupled with illegal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Waivers, the federal government is clearly controlling the development of national standards.  Both bills cement the continuation of the Common Core Standards and impose more federal control over the schools.

 

  1. Federally Mandated Testing

Through federal funding, NCLB and RTTT have placed the federal government in a supervisory role over development of high-stakes national assessments.  Instead of academic content, these assessments emphasize non-academic profiling. 

The assessments are not available to parents or teachers, even though 30 – 50 % of class time is spent preparing for the tests.  Both bills continue the annual high-stakes testing mandate. 

 

  1. Federal Curriculum

Former RTTT Director Joanne Weiss also boasted that “new curriculum materials funded through Race to the Top and released in 2014 are already in use in 20 percent of classrooms nationwide.”  In essence, this USED official is openly admitting that the Obama Administration is violating three federal statutes (ESEA, Department of Education Provisions Act, and General Education Provisions Act). 

Because the testing includes psychosocial and non-cognitive issues, the federally promoted curriculum will contain the same material.  Contrary to the claims made in these two bills, the federal role is not being reduced. 

 

  1. Student Data and Psychological Privacy

In December 2011, Obama signed an Executive Order amending the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), effectively eliminating data privacy protection.  The government will expand student psychological profiling through collection of dispositions, emotions, and attitudes of the students. 

Both reauthorization bills allow the federal government to continue collecting and disseminating highly personal data on America’s children.

 

  1. Preschool

The Senate bill expands the federal tentacles into preschool programs.  The Head Start program even requires Common Core Standards and includes gender identity for three-year-old children!  The government is not satisfied at stopping with “kindergarten Common Core;” it also wants “baby Common Core.” 

Evidence increasingly shows that these preschool programs are useless and even harmful; any beneficial effects fade by kindergarten to third grade. 

         

  1. Full Service Community Schools & Safe, Healthy & Supportive Schools

The Full Service Community Schools concept is designed to create “parent replacement centers.”  These centers will identify academic, physical, social, emotional, health, and mental health needs of students and families.  The Conference bill will likely go along with the Obama Administration and include these elements.

 

The Letter includes a dramatic graph that shows federal spending on K-12 education versus achievement, from 1970 to 2010.  Despite a 375 % increase in education spending since 1970, the achievement scores in Reading, Math, and Science are flat (no improvement).

This Brief Summary is not a substitute for the well-written Letter from the national grassroots coalition.  On the contrary, this summary is designed to encourage concerned citizens to carefully read the full Letter.  (The Letter itself comprises 5 ½ pages and the list of signers takes 5 ½ pages.)

 

Most importantly – Take Action:

Please call your senators and House members and tell them to vote NO on the ESEA reauthorization: phone 202.224.3121.

 

Henry W. Burke

hwburke@cox.net 

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