The civil rights and special education groups have been marshaled to defend the reauthorization of ESEA, HR5. Given the most recent events regarding civil rights, the Memories Pizza debacle in Indiana, it is not going out on a limb to say that the “civil rights” movement in this country, due to co-opting and poor messaging, is nothing like it was originally intended to be. The support document put out by a number of civil rights groups who are now pushing for the passage of HR5 shows how lost they are in their own message.  However, their voice is strong in DC and needs to be countered with logic, fact and equally loud opposition.

Their piece, which can be found here, contains numerous contradictions and mis-statements making it hard to even understand at times. It opens with the grandios statement, “The United States has played a historic and critical role in promoting educational opportunity and protecting the rights and interests of students disadvantaged by discrimination, poverty, and other conditions that may limit their educational attainment,” making it seem like our country is pursuing this goal globally. ESEA does not address US spending abroad on education, so you have to wonder why they opened with that non-sequitur.

They go on to state that Congress has has worked to “promote fair and equal access to public schools” for children experiencing these disadvantages, yet much of the rest of the statement refers to programs that must be applied to all students to deliver an educational outcome, far beyond the stated purpose of access.

Section II specifically refers to the purpose of the Federal dollars, which is to “provide extra (supplemental) resources needed by high-poverty schools to close achievement gaps and improve student outcomes.” Why then would you support all the other measures like testing, technology and data collection which will be used for all students and pull this targeted money away from the neediest students?

Most frightening is their support for the USDoED to become an enforcement agency over the states, clearly a violation of the constitutional doctrine and federal laws which state that the federal government has no role in local education. “The Secretary of Education approves plans, ensures state implementation through oversight and enforcement, and takes action when states fail to meet their obligations to close achievement gaps and provide equal educational opportunity for all students.”

Every special interest group you can think of has signed on to this statement in order to secure their place in line for money including:

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network
National Congress of American Indians
National Council of La Raza
National Indian Education Association
National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
Southern Poverty Law Center
Stand for Children

They state that, “Much progress has been made, but educational inequality continues to quash dreams, erode our democracy, and hinder economic growth.” This statement ignores the lessons of one of the greatest teachers who said, “the poor you shall have with you always.” There will always be inequality in condition: the condition of birth, the condition of geography, the condition of talent. It quashes only the dreams of those who dream of uniformity, who believe that because their life is not exactly like someone else’s they have been denied what is rightfully theirs and will ceaselessly work for this supposed civil right.

I won’t even spend time on the fact that we aren’t a democracy and the performance gap has never been shown to hinder overall economic growth.

Since theses groups, rather than coordinating their efforts in states which are not following IDEA or ADA guidelines and getting them to individually fix the problem, are instead going to DC and trying to get them to do it, we must address the issue in Washington as well. Given that HR5 still contains tremendous support for the federal role in education, there will be another twitter rally Monday April 6th to message the grassroots opposition to this kind of intrusion into a state’s rights issue.

This is a coordinated twitter rally from 9-11:00 p.m. EST tonight. Please see this link to understand how these rallies work to maximize our impact on the issue.   The #PJNET system allows individuals to work together to organically multiply the impact of each featured tweet, as well as their own tweets. The stats from the last rally are shown on the Pitch Page.  Clearly, this is effective!



Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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