Tweeter Doesn’t Like Living in an Educational Oligarchy….But….What Can You Do?
Twitter update: I was in a conversation on why I am against common core with a person who agreed that the adoption of Common Core set up an oligarchy and even though he/she didn’t like living in an oligarchy, he/she didn’t agree that by living in an oligarchy of non-governmental organizations directing public education was enough reason to be anti-Common Core.
He/she tweeted that ‘system is failing, someone needs to step in’. I observed ‘And there’s your conundrum. Who gets to decide who the ‘someone’ is? And ‘who’ decides failure?’
The tweeter erroneously responded it is up to Congress to provide answers to those two questions. According to this tweeter, Congress should be the arbitrator determining educational programs and educational success. It is not within the power of Congress to decide who the someone is to set education policy, nor is it Congress who should be deciding failure. These are the responsibilities of the states, not Congress. How long has it been since Civics was taught in the schools? Congress approved of the disastrous No Child Left Behind and the tweeter wants to support CCSSI that has been described as “NCLB on Steroids”?
The US Department of Education and Arne Duncan were quite creative in the continuing Federal foray into educational reform. In the creation of Common Core, Congress did not directly mandate the educational direction and success measurements; it was crafted by private non-governmental organizations funded by federal money via State Stabilization Funds that has allowed this Initiative to morph into a national blueprint for standards, teacher evaluations, data collection and turnaround schools. The USDOEd found a method to make the CCSSI adoption easier. Use money as the carrots and mandates as the sticks. Forget the pesky laws having to go through committees and votes, that’s too cumbersome. Just create a Federal pot of money, twist the arms of the states and districts to take it under threat of withholding future Federal money and the USDOEd has a brand new educational reform that didn’t need legislative and/or voter approval! Does the tweeter agree with the circumvention of the political process for federally funded NGOs to decide the nation’s educational initiative that does not only include standards, but includes:
- data tracking on individual students, teachers and administrators
- teacher evaluation mandates which includes ‘effectiveness’ rubrics and teacher redistribution
- turnaround mandates for ‘failing’ schools
The move toward national standards and tests was envisioned by Fordham Institute in 2006 via four approaches to education. The Institute now complains how the Obama administration hijacked states’ efforts to establish a common core standards initiative, but when you read about the four scenarios put forth by Fordam eight years ago, it did not object to the establishment of national standards and assessments (which drive curriculum) by the Federal Government. In fact, it offered this idea for the Federal government to ponder and possibly adopt. Wouldn’t the Race to the Top program with its carrots and sticks fit the bill nicely in these scenarios for Federal involvement and control? From Fordham Pushes National Standards:
An article in the August 2, 2014 Wall Street Journal details how federal involvement has become out of control in terms of power grabs and the ever increasing spending by federal agencies. As you read it, frame it in terms of how the Common Core adoption occurred and you will be able to spot many similarities. (I’ve highlighted some of these arguments in red). From an interview with James L. Buckley and Nine Decades at the Barricades:
Judge Buckley assumed senior status after 11 years on the bench, and stopped hearing cases a few years after that. He has kept busy in retirement, thinking and writing about the dangers of an ever-expanding federal government. He notes that at the beginning of the New Deal, the U.S. Code, the entire body of federal statutory law, took up a single volume. “At the end of the New Deal, there were three volumes. When I served in the Senate, there were 11 volumes. . . . The one that is called a 2012 edition—they’re still printing the volumes—is going to be about 33 or 34 volumes.”
That’s not the half of it. “We’ve got in the habit of writing more and more legislation that kind of gives broad outlines to be implemented by regulations,” he says. “There are now 235 volumes of regulations that occupy . . . 17 feet of shelf space of six-point or seven-point type.” Even unintentional violations can bring criminal penalties, “so that you can now find yourself in jail for violating a statute you would never have any reason to know existed.”
Bur Mr. Buckley’s is not a counsel of despair. He envisions a legal challenge to this bureaucratic power, alleging “an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority to an unelected board.” (MEW note: In the CCSSI, this delegation of legislative authority was granted by governors, state boards of educations and state commissioners in exchange for Federal money) And his book “Saving Congress From Itself,” forthcoming in November, argues for a revival of federalism—the devolution of power from Washington to the states.
That’s a familiar conservative refrain, but Mr. Buckley’s improvisations are worth a listen. He attributes a great deal of mischief to Steward Machine Co. v. Davis, the 1937 Supreme Court ruling that upheld the Social Security Act’s unemployment-compensation scheme, which is federally designed and funded but administered by the states. (MEW Note: The private NGOs, NGA/CCSSO were funded by the Federal Government and education delivery is administered by the states) The justices adopted a broad interpretation of Congress’s power to spend money under the Constitution’s General Welfare Clause—”in a manner that utterly subverts what was left of the 10th Amendment,” in Mr. Buckley’s view.
The court held that Congress could condition federal funding on states’ enactment of laws that met with Washington’s approval. These grants-in-aid programs have multiplied. (MEW note: Is this comparable to Arne Duncan’s waivers from ESEA?) “They started blossoming with Lyndon Johnson,” Mr. Buckley says. “There may have been 100, 120 of them at that time. By 1970 there were about 300, with an annual expenditure of $24 billion. There are now over 1,100 of them, with a federal expenditure this current fiscal year [of] $647 billion. So it is now the third-largest category of spending,” after entitlements and defense.
“You’re talking about . . . a sixth of total federal spending on matters that are admittedly not the businesses of the Congress because they are in the exclusive jurisdiction of states and localities,” Mr. Buckley says. “These programs have proved extraordinarily costly in terms of dollars and cents, extraordinarily costly in terms of warping priorities, extraordinarily destructive and costly in terms of disenfranchising the people.”
This scenario sounds similar to Common Core. Educational delivery has now been assigned to an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority to an unelected board, the CCSSO. The people who are compelled to pay for these decisions with no legislative overview or vote are understandably concerned and are demanding this reform be stopped as these programs have proved extraordinarily costly in terms of dollars and cents, extraordinarily costly in terms of warping priorities, extraordinarily destructive and costly in terms of disenfranchising the people.
Buckley has a idea on how to stop this type of governing and increasing Federal power grab:
Steward Machine Co. is settled law, so Mr. Buckley looks to a legislative solution: “What you’d have to do is say, ‘We’re killing them all, but converting the expectations into a single block grant—no strings attached—phased out over five [or] six years,’ which would give the states the opportunity to revamp their own tax claims and the federal government to reduce theirs.” That, he says, would require “an enlightened Congress that is willing to say, ‘We’ve been on the wrong track all this time. We’re wasting our time doing the work of city aldermen.’ ” (MEW note: CCSSI is not settled law, it is a massive Federal stimulus program out of funding in September 2014. We are looking to the states to free themselves from the private (but federally funded) NGO educational blueprint that will plunge school districts into unfunded debt. The states have the opportunity to reclaim their authority to set their own educational direction and delivery)
Which raises the obvious question: How do you get an enlightened Congress? “You create the kind of grass-roots demand for it that occurred four years ago, called the tea party,” Mr. Buckley answers. But he sees his idea as having an appeal beyond the right: “It’s in nobody’s interest to waste money, and it’s in nobody’s interest to defer local decisions to federal bureaucrats.”
Nobody’s interest, I reply cynically, except perhaps those federal bureaucrats and unenlightened congressmen. He concedes the point and offers a qualification: nobody’s interest “in terms of citizens, the grass roots.”
Mr. Buckley doesn’t claim it will be easy. He estimates the likelihood of success as “one chance in two million.” If the alternative is complete futility, you’ve got to like those odds.
That’s the primary reason to oppose Common Core: it’s in nobody’s interest (the citizens) to defer local decisions to federal bureaucrats…or the private NGOs who are funded by the federal bureaucrats. These decisions have been given away in violation of Federal laws and state constitutions. If those who are against the Common Core Initiative are offended in being lumped in with a “tea party” grassroots designation, insert “citizen” in that space to read citizen grassroots demand. We are fighting against the special interests whose primary interest in ‘reform’ has less to do with children and more to do with the standardization of human capital, the tracking of the capital and the needs of the workforce.
Are you content to live in an oligarchy? Will the power of a few dictate to your school/state its educational development and direction with no accountability?
…Eventually the whole system came crashing down; they went from a Republic to a Democracy and ended up with an Oligarchy under the progression of the Caesars. Thus democracy itself is not a stable form of government, instead, it is the gradual transition from limited government to an unlimited rule of an oligarchy.
Knowing this, we as Americans are ultimately left with only two choices: we can keep our Republic as Franklin put it, or we will inevitably end up with an oligarchy of tyranny of the elite.
–Posted August 4, 2014