National Takeover of School Curriculum
by Phyllis Schlafly
February 26, 2014
Many people said Ho-Hum when Barack Obama threatened to change any law with his pen or phone, and even used that power to personally alter Obamacare and the welfare law, and to “legislate” the Dream Act that Congress refused to pass. But Americans are rising up by the tens of thousands to stop Common Core, which is the current attempt to compel all U.S. children to be taught the same material and not be taught other things parents might think important.
Ever since Congress began pouring federal tax dollars into public schools, parents have been solicitous to have Congress write into law a prohibition against the federal government writing curriculum or lesson plans, or imposing a uniform national curriculum. Parents want those decisions made at the local level by local school boards which are, or should be, subject to the watchful eyes of local citizens and parents.
Parents are supported in this view by the U.S. Constitution which gives the federal government no power over education. Here is some of the repetitive language included in federal school appropriation laws.
The 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the first federal attempt to regulate and finance schools, stated: “Nothing in this act” shall authorize any federal official to “mandate, direct, or control” school curriculum. The 1970 General Education Provisions Act stipulates that “no provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any” federal agency or official “to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction or selection of instructional materials by any” school system.
The 1979 law that created the Department of Education forbids it to exercise “any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum” or “program of instruction” of any school system. The amended Elementary and Secondary Education Act reiterates that no Education Department funds “may be used … to endorse, approve, or sanction any curriculum designed to be used in” grades K-12.
Despite all those emphatic words Obama’s Department of Education, headed by an alumnus of the Chicago Democratic machine and other leftists, seeks to mold the minds of all our children into supporters of big-government. Their vehicle to accomplish this is Common Core, which is artfully designed to impose de facto national uniformity while complying with all explicit federal prohibitions.
The mechanism of control is the tests that all students must take, which will be written by the people who created Common Core. If students haven’t studied a curriculum “aligned” with Common Core, they will have a hard time passing the tests required for a high school diploma and entry into college.
As explained by education researcher and author Darcy Pattison, the Common Core gang in 1996 gathered a cozy group of rich big businessmen, six governors, and a few other politicians and founded an organization called Achieve Inc. Working backward from the 12th grade down to kindergarten, this eventually morphed into the Common Core State Standards.
Achieve Inc. started implementation of Common Core with 13 states, but a national curriculum was still the goal, and a congressional debate about that would have been a political risk. So the Common Core advocates bypassed most elected officials, went straight to each state department of education, and by 2009, 35 state curriculums had aligned with Common Core.
Common Core advocates then announced that “standards” had been developed “in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts … to prepare our children for college and the workforce.” By 2011, 45 states signed up even though the final draft of the standards was not yet available and they had never been field tested.
Still careful to skirt the laws barring federal control of curriculum, Education Secretary Arne Duncan used federal funds to bait the states to align with Common Core by offering grants from the federally funded Race to the Top program.
The Common Core promoters, whose goal is a national curriculum for all U.S. children despite laws prohibiting the government from requiring it, used the clever device of copyrighting the standards by a non-government organization, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). That enables Common Core advocates to force uniform national standards while claiming that the laws prohibiting federal control of curriculum are not violated.
No one may copy or reprint the standards without permission, and states that sign on to Common Core may not change or modify the standards. The license agreement that states must sign in order to use Common Core states: “NGA/CCSSO shall be acknowledged as the sole owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards.”
Further Reading: Common Core