Jan 11, 2016 by

rerejecting common core

Henry W. Burke testified before the Nebraska State Board of Education on 1.8.16.  Mr. Burke began his testimony at 19:50 and ended at 29:30.  He started with a short discussion on the Nebraska Standards; and he began his testimony on the ESSA Bill at 21:40.  This is the link (URL) to the Video Streaming Archives for the State Board meeting:





By Henry W. Burke



On December 10, 2015, Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

What does the public know about the new education law?

Why is ESSA bad for America?



The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is a rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law.

  1. U.S. House of Representatives Action
  • On 12.2.15, the House passed S 1177 (the Every Student Succeeds Act – ESSA) by a vote of 359 to 64.
  • The Roll Call Vote shows that 178 Republicans and 181 Democrats supported the bill.
  • Voting against the bill were 64 Republicans and 0 Democrats.
  1. U.S. Senate Action
  • On 12.9.15, the U.S. Senate passed S 1177 by a vote of 85 to 12.
  • All 12 Senators who voted against the bill are Republicans (0 Democrats opposed the bill).
  1. ESSA Bill Signed ESSA into Law

On 12.10.15, Obama signed S 1177 (the Every Student Succeeds Act — ESSA) into law.


  2. Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz’s Stand on ESSA
  • Senator Ted Cruz (R) did not vote on the final vote on S 1177 because he had already voted “No” the day before to keep the bill from moving forward to the Senate floor.
  • Cruz is the only Presidential candidate who has stated that in his first year in office, he will fight to shutter the U.S. Department of Education and repeal Common Core.

Sen. Ted Cruz issued the following press release about S 1177 on 12.9.15:

          “The Every Student Succeeds Act unfortunately continues to propagate the large and ever-growing role of the federal government in our education system—the same federal government that sold us failed top-down standards like Common Core. We should be empowering parents and local school districts instead of perpetuating the same tired approach that continues to fail our nation’s children.”



  1. Other Presidential Candidates’ Stands on ESSA
  • Senator Rand Paul (R) voted against S 1177.
  • Senator Marco Rubio (R) did not vote on S 1177 nor to keep the bill from moving forward to the Senate floor.
  • Jeb Bush supported the new education bill.



On 12.9.15, education expert Donna Garner wrote an insightful article “Clueless Congressmen: NCLB Passes — More Fed Control Over Education on the Way.”


From the article, these are some clues that ESSA is bad for America:

  1. U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) Statements

State legislators (who chair education committees) met with the U.S. Department of Education on 12.8.15.  The USDOE official (Chief of Staff to Secretary Arne Duncan) stated:

“According to Emma Vadehra, Chief of Staff, U.S. Dept. of Education, this bill will embed ‘college and career ready standards’ or as we know, Common Core©. They do not expect any states to get away from the standards. It also solidifies the Department’s plans for full pre-K expansion.  It was also stated that the pre-K grants were significant in moving the ball and that states are on the hook financially as well.  The DoE is giddy with excitement at the impending passage of ESSA.”


  1. Obama, Pelosi, Reid and Duncan Supported ESSA
  • Obama immediately signed the S 1177 bill.
  • Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Harry Reid, and Arne Duncan supported the measure.
  • The bill was supported by 37 of our nation’s most left-wing organizations.


  1. Common Core Copyright Owners Supported the Bill

The National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) supported the bill.

When the copyright owners of Common Core support the bill, what does that say?

  1. Not Sufficient Time to Read ESSA Bill

The ESEA rewrite measure (ESSA or S 1177) totals 1,061 pages, but Congressmen had only two days to read it before the vote.

As Rep. Nancy Pelosi famously said on 3.23.10 about Obamacare:

          “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it away from the fog of the controversy.”

  1. False Statements about Local Control

The American people have grown to hate even the mention of the name “Common Core Standards.”  Therefore, the people who put the ESSA bill together decided they would try to “fool” everyone by making erroneous claims, saying that the bill would give states control over the standards.  



Jane Robbins, senior fellow at the American Principles Project, explained clearly in an article that the ESEA/NCLB rewrite actually increases federal control instead of giving it to the states. 


  1. States Are Forced to Use Common Core

Jane Robbins of American Principles Project explained:

          “The state plan (which includes the state standards) must be coordinated with 11 different federal statutes. These include the Soviet-style Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act that’s designed to connect the K-12 education system to government-controlled workforce-development, the Head Start act that centralizes preschool standards, the Education Sciences Reform Act (which seeks to boost data-collection on students), etc. If the state standards must be coordinated to all these, that means the standards must be either Common Core or something like Common Core – standards that are focused on minimal workforce-development rather than academic knowledge. Standards based on a classical education model, for example, wouldn’t qualify. Given these requirements, states will almost certainly stick with Common Core rather than risk their federal money by trying something else.”


In simple terms, Jane Robbins found:

  • “The state plan (which includes the state standards) must be coordinated with 11 different federal statutes.”
  • “If the state standards must be coordinated to all these, that means the standards must be either Common Core or something like Common Core.”
  1. States Must Align Standards to ESSA College Requirements

Jane Robbins explains that the ESEA/NCLB rewrite bill also requires that the standards chosen must be aligned to the requirements of higher education:

“There’s obviously a huge disparity between the requirements of a community college and, say, Harvard…So since ESSA also requires that ALL students be held to these standards (with the exception of those with the most severe cognitive disabilities), states will obviously choose the community-college standards. Guess what standards are already out there that are (admittedly) designed to prepare students only for community college? Common Core.”


In simple terms, the new ESSA bill impacts higher education as follows:

  • “So since ESSA also requires that ALL students be held to these standards, states will obviously choose the community-college standards.”
  • “Guess what standards are already out there that are (admittedly) designed to prepare students only for community college? Common Core.”


  2. Preschool Expansion

Lindsey Burke of The Heritage Foundation explained in a 12.9.15 Breitbart article that:

  • ESSA codifies a $250 million preschool program in law and places it at the Health and Human Services Department (HHS).
  • ESSA’s preschool expansion is in addition to the 45 existing pre-K programs, which cost taxpayers $20 billion annually.
  • For 50 years, HHS has managed the failed Head Start program, with very poor results.
  • The preschool expansion is labeled “Baby Common Core” by many people.


  1. Head Start Does Not Work

The Obama administration’s Health and Human Services (HHS) Department studied the Head Start program.  The Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke stated in Breitbart:

          “According to HHS’ own empirical evaluation, Head Start has had no impact on participating children’s cognitive abilities, social-emotional well-being, or their parents’ parenting practices.”

          “A study published in 2012 by the Obama administration’s HHS also found that students who participated in the Head Start preschool program actually fared worse on several levels than students who did not.


The HHS study found that the Head Start effects quickly fade.

          “The study concluded that even when some positive effects of participation in Head Start are found in preschool age children, those effects disappear once children enter early elementary school.”


The large-scale study found that children who participated in the Head Start program actually did worse in math than children who were not in the program.

A study published at Stanford University’s Center for Education Policy Analysis found that a one-year delay in the start of school “dramatically reduces inattention/hyperactivity at age 7.”


The Stanford study continued:

          “We found that delaying kindergarten for one year reduced inattention and hyperactivity by 73 percent for an average child at age 11,” the study’s author Professor Thomas Dee said,  “and it virtually eliminated the probability that an average child at that age would have an ‘abnormal,’ or higher-than-normal rating for the inattentive-hyperactive behavioral measure.”





Lindsey Burke of The Heritage Foundation documented how the ESSA measure will expand the federal preschool program in a 12.2.15 article “The Every Student Succeeds Act: More Programs and Federal Intervention in Pre-K and K-12 Education.”


The Heritage Foundation article lists the following “Key Points” about the ESSA Bill:

  1. The ESSA measure contains a host of new programs – from preschool and civics to family engagement, among others. 
  2. The 1,061-page bill maintains high levels of spending on dozens of ineffective programs.
  3. The ESSA does not allow states to opt out through the A-PLUS provision.  The A-PLUS amendment is not part of this bill.
  4. Exit from Common Core remains a state leadership issue.  It is up to the states to fully leave Common Core.  Three federal laws already prohibit the federal government from being involved in curriculum.
  5. The ESSA does not accomplish critical policy priorities, and maintains significant federal intervention in local school policy.  



The American Principles Project offered these comments on ESSA:

  • “Republicans should have listened to the more than 200 pro-Constitution, anti-Common Core grassroots groups that laid out in detail their objections to this bill and practically begged their ‘conservative’ elected officials to pay attention.”
  • “Perhaps the most galling aspect of ESSA’s progression is the secretive, underhanded manner in which the bill was advanced.”
  • “ESSA was written by unknown parties, working behind closed doors with no notice to the public, and was released only two days before the House vote.”
  • “This bill is so progressive that it was supported by every single Democrat in Congress”.





American Principles Project declared:

  • “The claims of Republican leadership that the bill will transfer power back to the states are largely illusory. 
  • The suggestion that these rabidly pro-Common Core individuals and organizations would support a bill that truly restores state autonomy in education and unravels all they’ve worked for is nothing short of delusional.”



  2. ESSA Maintains Federal Testing

ESSA maintains the federally dictated testing, aimed more at measuring students’ attitudes and dispositions than assessing students’ academic knowledge.

On 12.8.15, Georgia State Senator William Ligon sent an excellent letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan.  Among other things, this well-researched letter pointed out some of the problems associated with the federal testing mandates in ESSA.

ESSA continues the federal testing mandates (Section 1005).  The types of assessments dictated by the bill include subjective assessments of students’ skills and psychological attributes under the requirement to assess higher-order thinking skills (HOTS).  The HOTS include the cognitive domain, the affective domain and the psychomotor domain.  Because the affective domain includes attitudes, feelings, values, and motivations, the federal government will be requiring assessments that target students’ psychological profiles. 

  1. ESSA Establishes 21st Century Community Learning Centers
  • ESSA provides for Obama’s special project — 21st Century Community Learning Centers.
  • Schools will be expanded to replace family and church as the center of every child’s life.


  1. ESSA Controls Private Schools

Page 186 of ESSA states:

  • “(A) IN GENERAL. – Educational services and other benefits for such private school children shall be equitable in comparison to services and other benefits for public school children.”

An entire section of the law, beginning on page 833, is titled “Participation by Private School Children and teachers.




Anti-Common Core activists tried for months to warn Congress that the new federal education bill (ESSA) was a disaster.  Now it has been confirmed.  This confirmation comes from someone who should know – Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

In a recent interview in “Politico Pro,” U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) Secretary Arne Duncan discussed the recently passed ESSA bill.


  1. Secretary Arne Duncan’s Surprise
  • “I’m stunned at how much better it ended up than either the [House or Senate] bill going into conference.”
  • “I had a Democratic congressman say to me that it’s a miracle — he’s literally never seen anything like it.”
  1. Secretary Arne Duncan’s Comments
  • “[I]f you look at the substance of what is there . . . embedded in the law are the values that we’ve promoted and proposed forever.”
  • “The core of our agenda from Day One, that’s all in there – early childhood, high standards [i.e., Common Core], not turning a blind eye when things are bad.” 
  • “For the first time in our nation’s history, that’s the letter of the law.”
  1. Secretary Arne Duncan’s Victory Lap
  • “The final thing is we have every ability to implement, to regulate the law . . . it’s just a Washington typical storyline…And candidly, our lawyers are much smarter than many of the folks who were working on this bill.”
  • “And we have every ability to implement.”  
  • “That’s all I’ve ever wanted.”




Clues that the new education bill (ESSA) is bad for America include: (1) Obama readily signed the bill, (2) Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Arne Duncan supported the measure, (3) Common Core copyright owners supported ESSA, (4) U.S. Department of Education officials were very excited about passing the bill, and (5) Congressmen were given only two days to read the 1,061-page ESSA bill before voting on the measure.

ESSA will force all states to use Common Core.

ESSA greatly expands preschools (“Baby Common Core”).

Even though Head Start has been proven ineffective, ESSA will expand the program.

ESSA will destroy local control of schools and give more control to the federal government.

U.S. Department of Education officials love the ESSA law.  In their own words:

  • “The DoE is giddy with excitement at the impending passage of ESSA.” (Chief of Staff Emma Vadehra)
  • The core of our agenda from Day One, that’s all in there – early childhood, high standards [i.e., Common Core], not turning a blind eye when things are bad.” (Education Secretary Arne Duncan)



Bio for Henry W. Burke

Henry Burke is a Civil Engineer with a B.S.C.E. and M.S.C.E.  He has been a Registered Professional Engineer (P.E.) for 37 years and has worked as a Civil Engineer in construction for over 40 years. 

Mr. Burke had a successful 27-year career with a large construction company. 

Henry Burke serves as a full-time volunteer to oversee various construction projects. He has written numerous articles on education, engineering, construction, politics, taxes, and the economy.

Henry W. Burke

E-mail:  hwburke@cox.net

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