de facto

This article from The Federalist in March 2012, The Road to a National Curriculum: The Legal Aspects of the Common Core Standards, Race to the Top, and Conditional Waivers should be required reading for legislators, parents, and educators questioning or celebrating the creation, adoption and implementation of the standards.  It begins with the history of Federal involvement in education and explains how it morped into an agency that is directing standards and a de facto national curriculum via waivers and RTTT grants.

Robert S. Eitel, who from 2006 to 2009, served as Deputy General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Education,  provided legal advice on important authorities governing the education sector, including the Higher Education Act, the No Child Left Behind Act, and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act proposed in March 2012 seven steps Congress, Governors, State Boards of Education and Commissioners should take to halt the de facto national curriculum and instructional materials effectively supervised, directed, or controlled by the Department through the NCLB waiver process.

Read his article that probably won’t make it into Common Core informational text and used as a ‘close reading’ when teaching about the history of the Federal Government in education.  It has too many historical facts on the Federal Government’s wielding power through waivers and mandates (not law), and it wouldn’t be ‘fair’ to those who don’t possess that historical knowledge to learn how this occurred.  The Common Core architects don’t want citizens to understand how the creation and adoption of the Initiative circumvented the political process and state legislatures.

No, those woefully ‘misinformed’, aka Common Core Initiative opponents, will continually be told by a private NGO such as Achieve that we really, really, really need the standards.  This informational text was written at the same time Eitel raised serious legal questions about the Initiative by Achieve, one of the private organizations that wrote policy for state educational programs:

common core March 2012

This PR piece offers ‘evidence’ of ‘why’ we need the standards (no links/sources)  but never talks about the legality of the funding of private companies by the Federal Government to create and implement the standards.   It doesn’t question why there are disparate standards across the states (that is up to the states to set their individual standards), global competition is necessary (neighborhood/state/national is bad) and the unspoken edict that the private NGOs will determine what the global competition entails, and the vague statement that ‘many’ (how many)  students aren’t prepared for colleges or careers (what type of colleges, 2/4 year and what type of careers).

The proponents never address the fundamental questions about the creation, adoption and implementation of the Initiative:

  • did private organizations have the authority to direct/develop public education
  • did governors and bureaucrats have the authority to ignore/supercede State Constitutions by granting public education responsibilities to NGOs
  • does the Federal Government have the authority to create a de facto national curriculum via the waiver process? 

These questions are conveniently dismissed by the proponents as irrelevant.  They will continue to state that a national curriculum is ‘illegal’, so of course, Common Core State Standards do not create such a curriculum.  The recurring argument is that they are ‘just standards’.  The practice presented by a former USDOEd attorney showing the Common Core Initiative, Race to the Top and waivers as the vehicles for a de facto national curriculum is dismissed as bogus.  However, to those who understand the original purpose of the USDOEd vs its current wielding of national educational power via waivers/mandates, the Initiative represents the nationalization of curriculum via private organizations:


usdoed and history

eitel common core

There are more important issues the pro Common Core advocates insist on hammering such as tell me a standard you don’t like and but I like them!  Welcome to the arguments in the world consisting of ‘close reading PR articles’  written by the NGOs which have assumed control of public education.  They are informing the close readers (administrators, teachers, parents, legislators) what the private companies want them to know and are omitting the reality of educational mandates/waivers on states.  To the NGOs and the adherents to CCSSI (an untested theoretical educational reform), ‘the end justifies the means’ and they aren’t worried, concerned or even aware about the unintended consequences of ignoring the rule of law.

David Coleman, Jason Zimba and Sue Pimental must be very proud of the Common Core talking points present in this close reading campaign which promotes ignorance of history and the rule of law.  If the facts aren’t presented by the same private NGOs that now direct/develop public education with no public accountability, then to the proponents, they just don’t exist.  From The Washington Post:

Imagine learning about the Gettysburg Address without a mention of the Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg, or why President Abraham Lincoln had traveled to Pennsylvania to make the speech. That’s the way a Common Core State Standards “exemplar for instruction” — from a company founded by three main Core authors — says it should be taught to ninth and 10th graders.

The unit — “A Close Reading of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address” — is designed for students to do a “close reading” of the address “with text-dependent questions” — but without historical context. Teachers are given a detailed 29-page script of how to teach the unit, with the following explanation:

The idea here is to plunge students into an independent encounter with this short text. Refrain from giving background context or substantial instructional guidance at the outset. It may make sense to notify students that the short text is thought to be difficult and they are not expected to understand it fully on a first reading — that they can expect to struggle. Some students may be frustrated, but all students need practice in doing their best to stay with something they do not initially understand. This close reading approach forces students to rely exclusively on the text instead of privileging background knowledge, and levels the playing field for all students as they seek to comprehend Lincoln’s address.

The Gettysburg Address unit can be found on the Web site of Student Achievement Partners, a nonprofit organization founded by three people described as “lead authors of the Common Core State Standards.” They are David Coleman,  now president of the College Board who worked on the English Language Arts standards; Jason Zimba, who worked on the math standards; and Susan Pimental, who worked on the ELA standards. The organization’s Linked In biography also describes the three as the “lead writers of the Common Core State Standards.”

When one relies exclusively on the text of NGOs pushing an Initiative that is based on theory instead of fact, one becomes the one woefully ‘misinformed’ about the forces behind the creation, adoption and implementation of the Initiative.  When one does his/her due diligence on the history of the creation, adoption and implementation of the standards and the understanding of how mandates/waivers are masquerading as the rule of law, the discussion leaves the realm of but I want it to is it legal?

Who do you believe is most credible in their Common Core State Standards Initiative research: Eitel or Achieve?




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