The Political Truth of How Educational Policy is Instituted: ‘Carrots & Sticks’ and ‘Suggestions’ by Federal/State Agencies and NGOs
Thanks to the Federal overreach into public school bathroom/locker room policy, many Americans are for the first time realizing how schools and states are under the thumb of Federal coercion. It’s the ‘carrot and stick’ philosophy of which former Governor Sonny Purdue spoke of in a Race to the Top meeting several years ago:
The authors of this puff piece are Democratic Governor Jack Markell of Delaware and former Republican Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue. Isn’t oligarchy bipartisanship a swell deal? Perdue is a money hungry governor willing to sell his state’s sovereignty to private organizations, and in fact, tells Secretary Arne Duncan in a CSpan February 2010 speech about Race to the Top:
While you may not have spent any money yet, we’ve been chasing that $4 Billion lure purty good.
He adds that with Governor Doyle, he plans “to get a share of it”. He says education is intimately involved in economic development and future prosperity of the state and the nation and he thinks they are focusing on exactly the right thing. He was vocally critical of NCLB at times although he recognized it called the accountability issue into question. To the “shame of the nation” they had never called the accountability question.
He applauds the “high standards” the “high expectations” and rewarding excellence. He thinks states have seen their students as “Lake Woebegone” and being above average but applauds the data portion. He likes keeping score, expecting more and thinks this will change course for those who want help.
The flexibility issue is important and he thinks this will allow governors that flexibility. He remembered his excitement last year when Duncan laid out his vision and he has done exactly what he said he would. He thanks him for what he is doing and he thinks he will change the prosperity of the nation by these high expectations.
Watch the 2:00 video clip. You can see for yourself how Sonny Perdue had no problem with the Federal government “giving” money to the state of Georgia to tell them how to evaluate students, track them with data. In fact, he was absolutely giddy at the thought of more Federal dollars rolling into Georgia. He apparently believes the State Department of Education is too inept to establish its own accountability measures for Georgia students. Georgia must be dependent on the Federal Government to tell it what to do in education in exchange for funds that won’t cover the cost of the mandates the same Federal Government slaps on Georgia for taking the money. I remember watching this clip early on (2010) in the RTTT process and thinking that this man is nothing but a money hungry politician willing to strike a deal with just about anyone.
The Common Core States Standards Initiative was ushered in with the same carrots and sticks blueprint via the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (2009) program. Similar to the bathroom directive, these ‘suggestions’ were accompanied with the threat of loss of Federal funding. Here is the 25- page report of ‘best practices’ in setting transgendered student policy: Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students from ed.gov.
While the ed.gov report states: This document does not constitute legal advice, create legal obligations, or impose new requirements, the 9-page letter sent to schools regarding transgender policies provides the implicit threat of Federal funding being withdrawn if the suggestions were not followed.
This is the political process of the how education is structured today: carrots and sticks. How do ‘carrots and stick’ directives effect your local school district policies and the function of the school board? I asked several school board members from across the state on their experiences as board members and the role of the Missouri School Board Association (MSBA) a private organization supported by taxpayer dollars with unelected officials drafting school board policies. Missouri parents are increasingly concerned about attendance and computer policies adopted by their boards ‘suggested’ by MSBA, and now there may be additional parental/taxpayer concern about the bathroom/locker policies ‘suggested’ by MSBA. Do school board members have the authority and obligation to set policies as determined by community consensus vs MSBA suggestions? Below is a letter received from Laura Martin, former school board member (reprinted with permission) on her experience with MSBA:
I did want to share a story with you. I have a very low opinion of the MSBA. They usurp local control right and left. John Beckett and I were fighting to get a new public comment policy instated at Camdenton. We had a number of issues that the community wanted to have input on, but our policy stated that the community could only speak on agenda items. We felt this limited the engagement of the community, as it is difficult to get items on the agenda…even for me as a board member at times! We got a new public comment policy on the agenda and at the meeting where we were supposed to discuss it, our superintendent brought in an MSBA attorney. She proceeded to urge the board to keep a policy which only allowed discussion of agenda items. The reason she gave was that anything else “could open us up to a lawsuit.” John Beckett asked if there was any case law or previous lawsuit on this, and of course she was forced to say “no, but there could be.” So, basically, the board was scared into keeping the policy the same. Honestly, the majority of our board didn’t want to open the public comment policy, and so the presence of the MSBA attorney was mostly just to give them an “out” as to why they wouldn’t allow open public comment. John and I voted to adopt the open comment policy, but of course we lost.
Another incident that comes to mind is when John and I attended hearings for, I believe it was HB1490. It was a meeting where the room was just packed…we came several hours early and the DESE people, etc., had to stay in the hallway, or stand on the side. Anyway, John and I were so mad when an MSBA rep testified against HB1490. After the hearing, John confronted the MSBA person and asked him where his authority came from to testify in favor of Common Core. We, as board members, had never received any sort of communication from MSBA asking us to weigh in on our position on this very important matter. The rep looked kind of nervous and then he said it was part of the MSBA platform, which is presented yearly at the MSBA meeting. When John asked about the specifics of the platform, the rep said the platform item called for support of “college and career ready standards.” Clearly, most school board members at that time (or probably even now!) didn’t realize this was code for Common Core. The platform is written so vaguely as to give MSBA latitude to lobby for anything THEY want. Another similar situation was when we testified at a student data privacy hearing. The only two entities there opposing the bill were Google and MSBA. It was disgusting.
MSBA is just another arm of DESE. They claim to support local control, and yet they take money from school districts (tax payer money) and do with it whatever they please, in the name of local districts. They do not ever seek feedback from sitting board members. They would claim they do, as areas do have reps, but they meet rarely. We had a board member who served as a rep for our area and she never asked for feedback from the board as to how we might want MSBA to lobby on something. The only thing she ever did was on occasion, ask us to write some sort of resolution, usually asking the Governor to fully fund the foundation formula, or something of that nature. Certainly never anything controversial. So, board members have essentially no say as to what MSBA is lobbying for or against in Jeff City. We did get emails from MSBA occasionally which had things like bills to watch listed. Sometimes it would say what position MSBA was taking on the bill, so I guess in theory you could call and say you objected to their stance, but it wouldn’t have changed their position. They do not actively seek the input of sitting board members via surveys on topics like Common Core, etc.
Watch for more here on MEW on MSBA and how it is an arm of DESE which is an arm of the Federal Government. Common Core was only the tip of the iceberg.