Posts

School Choice Shines This Week

School choice was a policy star this week at the Republican National Convention. President Donald Trump capped off the week by stating his desire to “expand charter schools and provide school choice for every family in America” during his speech Thursday night, the final night of the convention.

A slate of speakers throughout the week made impassioned cases for school choice, including Rebecca Friedrichs, famous for bringing a legal challenge to the forced collection of union dues. Her effort resulted in the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of teacher freedom in the case of Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., also made powerful arguments for education freedom. Scott called a good education “the closest thing we have to magic in America… When a parent has a choice, a kid has a better chance.”

On Wednesday, Tera Myers, an Ohio mother who helped launch that state’s school choice program for children with special needs, spoke about how life-changing school choice had been for her son, who has Down’s syndrome.


How are socialists deluding a whole generation? Learn more now >>


The teachers’ unions were none too pleased. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten tweeted in part, “Tonight we heard over and over about ‘school choice.’ This is their way [of] pushing to defund public ed.”

Her tweet begs the question: Why would giving parents a choice defund public education?Implicit in her tweet is the recognition that given an option, many parents would chose something other than their child’s assigned district school.

There are numerous policy changes Congress could make to advance school choice immediately, recognizing the particular urgency of the moment (most public schools across the country are still closed to in-person instruction). That includes:

1. Repurposing Existing Federal Programs

There are dozens of federal programs that are ineffective and inappropriate for Washington to manage. Instead of those dollars flowing to district public schools that are largely closed, Congress should redirect funding for those programs to families to use at an education option of choice.

There are many to choose from, including:

  • Supporting Effective Instruction (Title II, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act)—which would yield $2.13 billion per year for education choice.
  • Teacher and School Leader Incentives Fund (Title II, Part B)—$200 million per year.
  • Literacy for All (Title II, Part B)—$192 million per year.
  • Student Support and Academic Enrichment (Title IV, Part A)—$1.2 billion per year.
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers (Title IV, Part B)—$1.2 billion per year.
  • Education Innovation and Research Grants (Title IV, Part F)—$190 million per year.

2. Allowing Portability of Title I and Individuals With Disabilities Education Act Dollars

To help students with special needs and children from low-income families, Congress should allow Title I dollars and funding from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to follow students to learning options of choice.

For example, public schools receive $13.5 billion annually in federal the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act funding for students with special needs, ages three to 21. Federal policymakers could do a better job of serving these students by allowing them and their parents to access micro-education savings accounts worth approximately $2,000 per year, carved out of those existing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act funds.

Similarly, the design of the federal Title I program for low-income students has become cumbersome and obsolete, with distributions today having little connection to district-level poverty. Congress should allow states to make their Title I dollars portable, following a child from a low-income family to a private school or education option of choice.

3. Creating School Choice for Populations That Congress Is Directly Responsible for Educating

Finally, for education purposes, specific populations of students fall under the jurisdiction of Congress. That include children from active duty military families, Native American students living on tribal lands, and children residing within the District of Columbia—a federal city. Congress should provide education options for these populations.

That includes providing education savings accounts to military-connected children, education savings accounts to Native American children living on tribal lands, and transforming the Washington, D.C., into an all-choice district through expansion of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.

States Should Lead Charge to Expand Education Choice

Most importantly, states should heed the call to advance education choice. COVID-19 has demonstrated how ill-prepared districts were to meet the needs of students when the pandemic hit. Six months later, most remain closed to in-person instruction, leaving children without access to their schools and friends.

It doesn’t have to be this way. American taxpayers spend more than $700 billion per year on K-12 education. If that money funded children directly instead of defaulting to a district school system, families could have maintained education continuity by directing dollars to learning options that were open, or to private tutors, learning pods, online education, micro-schools, and homeschooling co-ops. But the inflexible nature of the existing system precludes that.

States should be doing everything they can right now to provide emergency education savings accounts to families.

COMMENTARY BY

Lindsey M. Burke researches and writes on federal and state education issues as the Will Skillman fellow in education policy at The Heritage Foundation. Read her research. Twitter: .

RELATED ARTICLE: ‘Nice White Parents’ Responsible for Failing Public Schools, New York Times Says


A Note for our Readers:

Democratic Socialists say, “America should be more like socialist countries such as Sweden and Denmark.” And millions of young people believe them…

For years, “Democratic Socialists” have been growing a crop of followers that include students and young professionals. America’s future will be in their hands.

How are socialists deluding a whole generation? One of their most effective arguments is that “democratic socialism” is working in Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Norway. They claim these countries are “proof” that socialism will work for America. But they’re wrong. And it’s easy to explain why.

Our friends at The Heritage Foundation just published a new guide that provides three irrefutable facts that debunks these myths. For a limited time, they’re offering it to readers of The Daily Signal for free.

Get your free copy of “Why Democratic Socialists Can’t Legitimately Claim Sweden and Denmark as Success Stories” today and equip yourself with the facts you need to debunk these myths once and for all.

GET YOUR FREE COPY NOW »


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Islamic State training children to slaughter their parents

“You will not find a people who believe in Allah and the Last Day having affection for those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, even if they were their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their kindred.” (Qur’an 58:22)

“O you who have believed, do not take your fathers or your brothers as allies if they have preferred disbelief over belief. And whoever does so among you – then it is those who are the wrongdoers.” (Qur’an 9:23)

“There has already been for you an excellent pattern in Abraham and those with him, when they said to their people, ‘Indeed, we are disassociated from you and from whatever you worship other than Allah. We have denied you, and there has appeared between us and you animosity and hatred forever until you believe in Allah alone…’” (Qur’an 60:4)

“Boys snatched from their families by ISIS reveal how they were ordered to kill their parents after being trained as child soldiers… and would have their legs broken if they refused,” by Tom Wyke, MailOnline, January 12, 2016 (thanks to The Religion of Peace):

Former ISIS child soldiers have revealed how the jihadi group snatch young boys from their families and subject them to savage punishments if they refuse to become child soldiers.

One 11-year-old boy, known only as Nouri, had one of his legs broken after he refused to become a ‘cub of the caliphate.’

The children who managed to escape describe how they were indoctrinated into the jihadi group’s radical brand of Islam and taught that they should execute their ‘unbeliever’ parents.

A Kurdish commander described the challenge his men face when fighting against ISIS. He said that ISIS frequently send children out on the frontline, wearing concealed explosive vests.

Aziz Abdullah Hadur said that when fighting on the Gweyr frontline, his men had witnessed numerous child soldiers fighting for ISIS on the frontline….

RELATED ARTICLES:

Obama Administration blocked visa waiver reforms to avoid upsetting Iran

Missoula, Montana! Beware! Refugees could soon be on the way

Florida Rep. Ray Pilon files legislation returning power to parents, teachers and school boards

Florida Citizens Alliance (FLCA) has been working on both a comprehensive bill to restore local K-12 education control and a focused curriculum bill to fix the loopholes in SB 864, passed in 2014 as FS 1006.283.

FLCA in a press release states:

We are very pleased to report that Senator Alan Hays and Representative Ray Pilon are championing companion bills to fix FS 1006.283 and its loopholes:  SB 1018 and HB 899.

The purpose/intent of the original SB 864 was to assign constitutional responsibility for all instructional materials to school boards, and require a transparent policy/process for school boards and parents to remove objectionable materials. Due to several loopholes in FS 1006.283, the spirit and intent of the original bill are currently being ignored by many school districts in Florida.

Here is a brief summary of the loopholes that the two companion bills (SB 1018 and HB 899) that are intended to “fix” FS 1006.283.

FLCA in an email states:

Please use the petition at right to send a “shout out” to Senator Hays and Representative Pilon, thanking them for their leadership, and to urge your Florida House Representative and Florida Senator to co-sponsor their respective versions of these bills.  The petition is also copying your local school board, asking them to aggressively support these companion bills.

FLCA is urging Florida parents, students and teachers to call their house representative and senator to ask that they co-sponsor these bills. Here are FLCA talking points you can use in your call.  Use these links to get appropriate phone numbers for the Florida House and Florida Senate. We strongly suggest that you call now (before Christmas) and again in January as the legislative cycle begins.

Passage of these companion bills will require an aggressive and sustained set of actions to garner support. Here is an expanded set of 5 actions that FLCA urges parents, students and teachers to put into practice in support of these companion bills.

ABOUT THE FLORIDA CITIZENS ALLIANCE:

The Florida Citizens’ Alliance (FLCA) is a coalition of citizens and grassroots groups working together through education, outreach and community involvement to advance the ideals and principles of liberty.  We believe these include but are not limited to individual rights, free markets, and limited government.

Real Heroes: Homeschool Parents — Home Education Inspires a Love of Learning by Lawrence W. Reed

The hero in this story is not any one person but rather nearly two million Americans — moms and dads who go the extra mile and who, often at great sacrifice to themselves, are rescuing children in a profoundly personal way. They are the homeschoolers, parents who give up time and income to directly supervise the education of their children. They teach, they arrange learning experiences within their home and elsewhere in cooperation with other parents, and they inspire an appetite for learning.

Of all the ingredients in the recipe for education, which one has the greatest potential to improve student performance?

No doubt the teachers unions would put higher salaries for their members at the top of the list, to which almost every school reformer might reply, “Been there, done that!” Teacher compensation has gone up in recent decades, while indicators of student performance have stagnated or fallen.

Other standard answers include smaller class size, a longer school year, more money for computers, or simply more money for fill-in-the-blank. The consensus of hundreds of studies over the past several years is that these factors exhibit either no positive correlation with better student performance or only a weak connection. On this important question, the verdict is in and it is definitive: The one ingredient that makes the most difference in how well and how much children learn is parental involvement. Homeschooling is the ultimate in parental involvement.

When parents take a personal interest in their children’s education, several things happen. The child gets a strong message that education is important to success in life; it isn’t something that parents dump in someone else’s lap. Caring, involved parents usually instill a love of learning in their children — a love that translates into a sense of pride and achievement as their students accumulate knowledge and put it to good use. As one might expect, time spent with books goes up and time wasted in the streets goes down, but there’s so much more to the homeschooling experience, as explained by Marianna Brashear, curriculum development manager at the Foundation for Economic Education:

Much time is spent not just in books, but seeing the world and participating in field trips with hands-on learning. There is so much knowledge that is gained through real-world exposure to a vast array of subjects far more lasting than reading out of a textbook. The word “schooling” in homeschooling is misleading because education takes place in and out of formal lessons. The biggest waste of time in schools comes not just from indoctrination, but also from “teaching to the test,” where kids memorize, regurgitate, and forget.

American parents were once almost universally regarded as the people most responsible for children’s education. Until the late 19th century, the home, the church, and a small nearby school were the primary centers of learning for the great majority of Americans.

In more recent times, many American parents have largely abdicated this responsibility, in favor of supposed “experts.” The context for this abdication is a compulsory system established to replace parental values with those preferred by the states and now, to an increasing degree, by the federal government. (It’s important to remember how much the current system was established as a reaction to immigrants, especially Catholics. See Robert Murphy’s “The Origins of the Public School” in the Freeman, July 1998.)

Twenty years ago, a report from Temple University in Pennsylvania revealed that nearly one in three parents was seriously disengaged from their children’s education. The Temple researchers found that about one-sixth of all students believed their parents didn’t care whether they earned good grades, and nearly one-third said their parents had no idea how they were doing in school. I can think of no reason to believe things have improved on this front in the two decades since.

Homeschooling is working — and working extraordinarily well — for the growing number of parents and children who choose it.

Teaching children at home isn’t for everyone. No one advocates that every parent try it. There are plenty of good schools — private and many public and charter schools, too — that are doing a better job than some parents could do for their own children. And I certainly praise those parents who may not homeschool but who see to it that their children get the most out of education, both in school and at home. Homeschooling almost always goes the extra mile, however, and it is working extraordinarily well for the growing number of parents and children who choose it.

This outcome is all the more remarkable when one considers that these dedicated parents must juggle teaching with all the other demands and chores of modern life. Also, they get little or nothing back from what they pay in taxes for a public system they don’t patronize. By not using the public system, they are in fact saving taxpayers at least $24 billion annually even as they pay taxes for it anyway.

In the early 1980s, fewer than 20,000 children were in homeschools. From 2003 through 2012, the number of American children 5 through 17 years old who were being homeschooled by their parents climbed by 61.8 percent to nearly 1.8 million, according to the US Department of Education. That’s likely a conservative estimate, but it equals 3.4 percent of the nation’s 52 million students in the 5–17 age group.

Parents who homeschool do so for a variety of reasons. Some want a strong moral or religious emphasis in their children’s education. Others are fleeing unsafe public schools or schools where discipline and academics have taken a backseat to fuzzy, feel-good, or politically correct dogma. Many homeschool parents complain about the pervasiveness in public schools of trendy instructional methods that border on pedagogical malpractice. Others value the flexibility to travel, often with their children for hands-on, educational purposes; the ability to customize curricula to each child’s needs and interests; and the potential to strengthen relationships within the family.

“When my wife and I first decided to homeschool our three children,” says Bradley Thompson, a political science professor who heads the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism at Clemson University, “we did it for one reason: we wanted to give them a classical education — the kind that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson might have received when they were young boys.” He adds,

Within a couple of years, we added a second reason: we didn’t want our children exposed to the kind of socialization that goes on in both government and some private schools. Over time, however, we added a third reason: homeschooling became a way of life for our family, a way of life that was irreplaceable and beautiful. By the time our third child goes to college, we will have been homeschooling for 18 years. Those years have been, without question, the most important of my life.

Homeschool parents are fiercely protective of their constitutional right to educate their children. In early 1994, the House of Representatives voted to mandate that all teachers — including parents in the home — acquire state certification in the subjects they teach. A massive campaign of letters, phone calls, and faxes from homeschool parents produced one of the most stunning turnabouts in legislative history: by a vote of 424 to 1, the House reversed itself and then approved an amendment that affirmed the rights and independence of homeschool parents.

The certification issue deserves a comment: we have a national crisis in public education, where virtually every teacher is duly certified. There is no national crisis in home education.

Critics have long harbored a jaundiced view of parents who educate children at home. They argue that children need the guidance of professionals and the social interaction that comes from being with a class of others. Homeschooled children, these critics say, will be socially and academically stunted by the confines of the home. But the facts suggest otherwise.

Reports from state after state show homeschoolers scoring significantly better than the norm on college entrance examinations. Prestigious universities, including Harvard and Yale, accept homeschooled children eagerly and often. And there’s simply no evidence that homeschooled children (with a rare exception) make anything but fine, solid citizens who respect others and work hard as adults. Marianna Brashear informs me thus:

More and more early college and dual enrollment programs are available for rising 9th through 12th graders, and these programs, too, are quite eager to admit homeschoolers for their ability to take responsibility and to self-motivate, for their maturity, and for their determination to learn and succeed. For example, my 14-year-old daughter will be starting with a nearby technical institute in August and will receive high school and college credit simultaneously. She will be in a class with other high school students, and they are on track to receive AA degrees before graduating high school.

Homeschool parents approach their task in a variety of ways. While some discover texts and methods as they go, others plan their work well before they start, often assisted by other homeschoolers or associations that have sprung up to aid those who choose this option. Writing in the Freeman in May 2001, homeschool parent Chris Cardiff observed that because parents aren’t experts in every possible subject,

families band together in local homeschooling support groups. From within these voluntary associations springs a spontaneous educational order. An overabundance of services, knowledge, activities, collaboration, and social opportunities flourishes within these homeschooling communities.

My FEE colleague, B.K. Marcus, also a homeschool parent, identifies this natural “socialization” as a critically important point:

Homeschooling produces communities and participates in a division of labor. Homeschooling is social and cooperative, contrary to the stereotype of the overprotected child under the stern watch of narrow-minded parents. Traditionally schooled kids show far fewer social skills outside their segregated age groups.

A quick Internet search reveals thousands of cooperative ventures for and between homeschoolers. In Yahoo Groups alone, as of June 2015, about 6,300 results pop up when you search for the keyword “homeschool.” More than 800 show up in Google Groups. Facebook is another option for locating a plethora of local, regional, and national homeschool groups, support groups, events, co-ops, and communities.

In every other walk of life, Americans traditionally regard as heroes the men and women who meet challenges head-on, who go against the grain and persevere to bring a dream to fruition. At a time when more troubles and shortcomings plague education and educational heroes are too few in number, recognizing the homeschool champions in our midst may be both long overdue and highly instructive.

Common to every homeschool parent is the belief that the education of their children is too important to hand over to someone else. Hallelujah for that!

For further information, see:

Lawrence W. Reed

Lawrence W. (“Larry”) Reed became president of FEE in 2008 after serving as chairman of its board of trustees in the 1990s and both writing and speaking for FEE since the late 1970s.

EDITORS NOTE: Each week, Mr. Reed will relate the stories of people whose choices and actions make them heroes. See the table of contents for previous installments.

Bill Gates and Localizing Common Core and Standardized Testing by Paul DiPerna

“Innovations that are guided by smallholder farmers, adapted to local circumstances, and sustainable for the economy and environment will be necessary to ensure food security in the future.” – Bill Gates

The Andrew Carnegie of our time—and as a native of Pittsburgh, I say that respectfully—may want to consider how that same approach can augment education reform. In 2014, the “de facto organizer” of the contentious Common Core State Standards Initiative is now a witness with the rest of us to the mounting challenges to that grand framework—and they’re emerging from local sources.

Indeed, in recent months, outcries have inspired Indiana, Arizona, South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Louisiana to depart (to varying degrees) from the Common Core, committing to “homegrown” state-based standards and/or tests. As the Hechinger Report and Education Week reported, of the original 45 states that signed up for one of the two big assessment regimes tied to Common Core, 36 states as of now are still participating.

Is that 20 percent drop in state participation the start of a larger reactionary theme to standards, testing, and accountability in education?

To find out, we asked a nationally representative sample of the general population (“American Adults”)—in the latest installment of the Friedman Foundation’s “Schooling in America Survey”—their attitudes and opinions about:

  • developing and implementing academic standards;
  • Common Core (with and without context);
  • standardized testing;
  • who (respondents believe) are accountable to tests; and who (respondents say) should be accountable to tests.

Just as Bill Gates has recognized in agriculture, our findings indicate that local ownership—exemplified by parental input/action and teachers’ roles —also matters enormously in education:

When it comes to developing and implementing academic standards, Americans believe teachers and school district officials should take the lead. Respondents suggest it may be preferable for parents to play a larger role in development rather than implementation. Government officials at the state and federal levels should take a backseat in both.



Interviews suggest a mixed message about the Common Core State Standards. 
Without any context, Americans say they oppose Common Core. However, when providing some context, support increases substantially while the opposition remains about the same.

  • Certain demographic groups set themselves apart either in their support of or opposition to Common Core. Groups most inclined to be supportive with the highest positive margins are: Midwest region (56 percent favor | +21 points), urbanites (60 percent favor | +26 points), Democrats (58 percent favor | +26 points), and African Americans (57 percent favor | +22 points).
  • The views on Common Core are more negative among school parents (44 percent favor | -5 points) and middle-income earners (43 percent favor | -5 points).

There is no mixed message about the most intense reactions to the Common Core items in the survey. Respondents who hold hardened views on Common Core are mostly likely to be negative rather than positive—with or without context.

  • The intensity (defined as the difference between “strongly favor” and “strongly oppose” responses) is negative against Common Core. Without any context and on first impression, 24 percent say they “strongly oppose” versus 11 percent who say they “strongly favor” (-13 points). Even with context, 25 percent say they “strongly oppose” versus 16 percent who say they “strongly favor” (-9 points). The intensity improves with further information but it still is considerably negative.
  • Intensities are more heavily negative than positive for most groups. Just four observed demographics have a positive intensity (and it is relatively mild): urbanites (+6 points), Democrats (+4 points), African Americans (+6 points), and Latinos (+3 points).
  • Intensity against Common Core is strongest among school parents (-21 points), small-town residents (-16 points), rural residents (-18 points), Republicans (-17 points), and middle-income earners (-17 points).

A plurality of Americans (36 percent) said the amount of time spent on standardized testing is “too high,” compared with 24 percent who said “too low.”
Q22.jpg

  • Nearly half of high-income earners believe there is too much testing in America’s schools (49 percent too high vs. 15 percent too low). This group registers the highest level of resistance among observed demographics.
  • The groups inclined to say there is not enough standardized testing are low-income earners (24 percent too high vs. 31 percent too low), African Americans (21 percent too high vs. 34 percent too low), and Latinos (28 percent too high vs. 35 percent too low).
  • The most ambivalent groups on standardized testing are westerners (31 percent too high vs. 28 percent too low), urbanites (31 percent too high vs. 28 percent too low), and young adults (31 percent too high vs. 29 percent too low).

More than two out of five Americans (42 percent) believed students spend at least 16 days or more of the school year—roughly 10 percent of the year—on standardized testing activities.

Q21.jpg

  • This response—16 or more school days—is even higher among school parents (51 percent), middle-age Americans (50 percent), and high-income earners (53 percent).


The average American believes teachers are being held most accountable to test results today, more so than other school officials, and far surpassing the proportion who believe students are held accountable to tests.

Q23-Split-A.jpg
Americans appear to support some degree of test-based accountability and believe the focus should be on teachers, students, and school district officials.

Q23-Split-B.jpg

Common Core and standardized testing will remain flashpoints for policy debates in K-12 education. For now, when weighing the most adamant views on testing and Common Core, Americans are resistant and likely to be negative. Interestingly, the parents of school-age children appear to be the most negative toward Common Core and resistant to the current level of standardized testing.

Politicians, especially local ones, tend to respond to the most vocal constituents and grassroots groups. The implications of our polling suggest that Common Core—and standardized testing to a lesser degree—will continue to face loud local and state-level opposition for months to come.

We’ll find out this November and in early 2015, once legislatures convene, whether such upheavals threaten the future of standards-based reform.

It seems Bill Gates and his foundation are taking it seriously, as evidenced by their suggested moratorium on “high-stakes decisions based on tests aligned with the new (Common Core) standards.” Perhaps that signals Gates’ belief in the power and influence of local forces isn’t limited to farming. Regardless, our survey can provide some additional food for thought.

For more on what Americans think about other education-related topics, including how Common Core would affect their electoral considerations, read the full “2014 Schooling in America Survey: Perspectives on School Choice, Common Core, and Standardized Testing.”

ABOUT PAUL DIPERNA

Paul DiPerna is Research Director for the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. He joined the Foundation in September 2006. Paul’s research interests include surveys and polling on K-12 education and school choice policies. He has developed and issued more than 20 state polls and other survey projects over the last four years. His other responsibilities include directing and managing all research projects commissioned by the foundation.

Call to abolish Florida Department of Education

Sandra Stotsky, Professor Emerita, University of Alabama.

Sandra Stotsky, Ed.D., former Senior Associate Commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Education and Professor Emerita at the University of Alabama, released a statement concerning the upcoming summit called for by Governor Rick Scott on Common Core State Standards.

Dr. Stotsky is known nationwide for her in-depth analyses of the problems in Common Core’s English language arts standards. Her current research ranges from the deficiencies in teacher preparation programs and teacher licensure tests to the deficiencies in the K-12 reading curriculum and the question of gender bias in the curriculum. She is regularly invited to testify or submit testimony to state boards of education and state legislators on bills addressing licensure tests, licensure standards, and Common Core’s standards (e.g., Utah, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Florida and Texas).

The following is the full text of Dr. Stotsky’s statement:

I have been invited by parent groups in Florida to comment on Common Core’s English language arts standards using the format that Interim Commissioner Pamela Stewart chose to give them.  Although Governor Scott requested meetings at which parents could express their concerns, she deliberately chose a method that in effect prevents discussion and an open forum.  By telling parents that they can comment only one by one, and only on the particular standards in Common Core, in a 3-hour period of time, she is in effect spitting in their faces. Parents can also send in their individual comments by computer, a method that also prevents discussion. If this is how a Department of Education treats the parents of the children whose education this Department is supposed to improve, then there is no reason for Florida parents to support the existence of such a Department. It should be abolished by referendum.

I was a senior associate commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education from 1999 to 2003.  At no time were critics of the Department’s draft documents treated as shabbily as Florida parents are now being treated.   Public comment was regularly allowed at Board of Education meetings, and the Department held many meetings around the state when it was developing the Bay State’s own standards. And when criticism was received on drafts of standards documents, the Department staff courteously and publicly answered these criticisms. They acted as public servants, not as bureaucrats trying to foist their own untested ideas on other people’s children.

The Massachusetts Department of Education also held a large public meeting on Common Core’s standards to which the standards writers were invited. It was informative for the audience to hear Jason Zimba, the mathematics standards writer, indicate that Common Core’s math standards would not prepare high school students for STEM. I recommend that the Florida Department of Education hold a similar meeting and invite parents and teaching faculty at its own higher education institutions to attend and question Common Core’s standards writers.

WDW – FL contributor Diane Kepus wrote, “Governor Scott recently tossed the parents and taxpayers of Florida a bone regarding implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) leading many to believe he was going to “shut down” implementation of CCSS via his Executive Order Number 13-276. However some are questioning if the EO has any teeth.”

“Governor Scott issues an Executive Order and uninformed citizens believe he is stopping CCSS in Florida. What he did was withdraw Florida from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) only. He stated he was going to hold three hearings for public comments, look into finding someone else for testing and acknowledged concerns regarding the Federal overreach and the data collection of psychological attitudes and beliefs,” noted Kepus.

Kepus concluded the bottom line is: The Florida implementation of Common Core State Standards is untouched, unaffected and on track. It appears former Commissioner Stotsky has come to the same conclusion.

Study calls on US DOE to stop bribing states to adopt Common Core

The United States Department of Education (USED) should be prohibited from making adoption of national English and math standards known as Common Core a condition or incentive for receipt of federal funding, and both USED and organizations like the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, whose dues are paid with taxpayer funds, should make public the amount of time and money they have invested in promoting Common Core according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

“Common Core fundamentally alters the relationship between the federal government and the states,” says former Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott, the author of A Republic of Republics: How Common Core Undermines State and Local Autonomy over K-12 Education. “States are sacrificing their ability to inform what their students learn.”

To read the full study click here.

Three federal laws explicitly prohibit the federal government from directing, supervising, funding, or controlling any nationalized standards, testing, or curriculum. Yet Race to the Top (RttT), a competitive $4.35 billion federal grant program, gave preference to states that adopted or indicated their intention to adopt Common Core and participated in one of two federally funded consortia developing assessments linked to Common Core.

USED subsequently made adoption of Common Core one of the criteria for granting states conditional waivers from the accountability provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind law.

In his preface for the paper, Iowa’s U.S. Senator Charles Grassley writes that when gov­ernment makes “decisions that affect a child’s education, these decisions should be made at a level of government close to the parents and students who are affected.” He goes on to criticize how what began as a plan to develop standards that states could adopt voluntarily has become a subject of federal coercion.

Scott notes that the adoption of new standards normally takes years from the time they are initially written by panels of educators, made available for extended periods of public review, and revised until they are adopted. But because of RttT’s deadlines, these periods were reduced to a few months or even weeks.

As a result of the rushed process, states adopted Common Core without knowing about assessments; the outcomes for which students, and in some cases teachers, will be held accountable. Other unknowns include what the passing score will be, who will set it, and whether it will be the same from state to state.

The three most populous states – California, Texas and Florida – also have systematic processes for adopting textbooks. These reviews happen on a regular cycle and would be disrupted and often expedited due to the need to adopt instructional materials aligned with the new standards in time for them to be implemented.

The expedited process by which Common Core was adopted in most states meant teachers had no opportunity to inform the standards’ content. In some states, the new standards are substantially different than what had been taught. In many cases, teachers will be teaching material in different grades than it had been before.

Scott describes all the “learning on the go” Common Core will require as a very expensive gamble. The one-year cost of new technology, instructional materials and teacher professional development is estimated at $10.5 billion for the 45 states and the District of Columbia, which have adopted the standards. With ongoing expenses, the cost is expected to rise to about $16 billion.

Scott also describes why Texas chose not to adopt Common Core while he served as commissioner of education. Disruption of the textbook adoption cycle, the lengthy process of making the standards available to the public and seeking approval from the state Board of Education, and the cost of changing procedures and parts of the education code were among the reasons for the decision not to adopt.

Texas would have been in line for a $700 million RttT grant, but “it costs more than $300 million per day to run public schools in Texas,” Scott says. “Giving up substantial autonomy to direct education policy in return for roughly enough money to run the schools for two days was not a trade-off we were willing to make.”

This report is co-sponsored by the American Principles Project, the Pacific Research Institute, and the Civitas Institute. Pioneer’s extensive research on Common Core national education standards includes:  Common Core Standards Still Don’t Make the Grade,The Road to a National Curriculum: The Legal Aspects of the Common Core Standards, Race to the Top, and Conditional Waivers, and National Cost of Aligning States and Localities to the Common Core Standards. Recent national media coverage includes op-eds placed in The Wall Street Journal and The Weekly Standard.

ABOUT THE PIONEER INSTITUTE:

Pioneer Institute is an independent, non-partisan, privately funded research organization that seeks to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts through civic discourse and intellectually rigorous, data-driven public policy solutions based on free market principles, individual liberty and responsibility, and the ideal of effective, limited and accountable government.