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Common Core/PARCC/SBAC re: three federal laws vs. natl standards, curric, and tests

May 25, 2013 by

“U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan fielded questions about the Common Core from members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee Tuesday, reports Alyson Klein for Education Week:


It took 90 minutes for lawmakers to finally bring up the biggest thing happening in education policy these days: the Common Core State Standards. Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., asked Duncan whether the federal government is trying to create a national curriculum.

Duncan took umbrage at the suggestion. “Let’s not get caught up in hysteria and drama,” he said. He noted that the Education Department is legally prohibited from putting in place a federal curriculum.




And Pioneer Institute’s 2012 legal paper on Common Core, “The Road to a National Curriculum,” written by the former General Counsel and Deputy General Counsel for the US ED, states:


By leveraging funds through its Race to the Top Fund and the Race to the Top Assessment Program, the Department has accelerated the implementation of common standards in English language arts and mathematics and the development of common assessments based on those standards. By PARCC’s and SBAC’s admission, these standards and assessments will create content for state K-­12 curriculum and instructional materials. The Department has simply paid others to do that which it is forbidden to do. This tactic should not inoculate the Department against the curriculum prohibitions imposed by Congress.




And George Will’s Washington Post column from a year ago on Pioneer’s legal paper, “Those Pesky Things Called Laws”:


“The 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) — No Child Left Behind is its ninth iteration — intruded the federal government into this traditionally state and local responsibility. It said that “nothing in this act” shall authorize any federal official to “mandate, direct, or control” a state’s, local educational agency’s or school’s curriculum. The General Education Provisions Act of 1970, which supposedly controls federal education programs, stipulates that “no provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize” any federal agency or official “to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction” or selection of “instructional materials” by “any educational institution or school system.”

The 1979 law establishing the Education Department forbids it from exercising “any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum” or “program of instruction” of any school or school system. The ESEA as amended goes further: No funds provided to the Education Department “may be used . . . to endorse, approve, or sanction any curriculum designed to be used in” kindergarten through 12th grade.”

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