The Education Station
The United States Constitution and Education - Then and Now.
The great debate in American Education today centers on the role of the federal government in Education.
The very foundation of American Government is the U.S.Constitution. Nowhere in the Constitution is the word "Education" even found. As powers were enumerated in the Constitution, education was not one of those given to the national government by the Framers of the Constitution.
In the last Century, when statesmen were replaced by politicians, many found a way to dream up programs and new powers in the name of the "general welfare." James Madison and the Founders would have never fallen for such abuse of the Constitution. In fact, it is interesting to note that Madison addressed such a possibility and spoke these words before the House of Representatives on February 7,1792:
"If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion in their own hands; they may employ teachers in every state, county, and parish, and pay them out of the public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of the children establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor, they may take the regulation of all roads except post-roads, in short, everything from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress, for every object that I have mentioned would admit of the application of money and might be called, if Congress pleased, provisions for the 'general welfare'."
While Madison's sarcasm may have seemed laughable to his hearers in 1792, hearers who no doubt took their oaths of office to uphold the Constitution much more seriously than do modern members of the Congress, what he spoke of has long been federal policy.
You, taxpayers, have paid over one trillion dollars on failed educational policies since the federal department of education was created. Under Democrat and Republican administrations alike, the education bureaucracy has increased the money spent without any proven, measurable, academic progress. The Bush administration's No Child Left Behind, intended for reform, based continued funding on test scores. President Bush requested massive funding and received it. In November,2008, Reading First Impact Study Final Report addressed the failure of the program: "There was no consistent pattern of effects over time in the impact estimates of reading instruction in grade one or in reading comprehension in any grade, There appeared to be a systematic decline in reading instruction impacts in grade two over time."
The report continued to reveal that "there was no relationship between
reading comprehension and the number of years that a student was exposed to Reading First, a part of No Child Left Behind." This in spite of the fact that there was an 80% increase in spending in the Bush administration, well intended, but with sad results.
The Obama administration promised to continue, even accelerate the federal education policies through national programs and federal funding. In March of 2009, Secretary Arne Duncan announced $44 billion stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This was in addition to the tens of billion in regular education federal funding.
American parents share the President's goal of seeing that every child has an access to a good education, but how to achieve it? In our research, we have found no evidence that the federal government programs have achieved increased academic performance in the least. National test scores have not had any significant increases through the years. Mean scores have remained at or below the 1960s levels. There has been some adaptation of even evaluating the scores within the College Board.
So what have educators and parents learned from No Child Left Behind, and the programs which followed it? One dedicated teacher in N. Carolina, speaking of her experience with No Child Left Behind, " it left no teacher standing up."
In Alabama and most other states, Common Core Standards have been
accepted. The Alabama Legislature has an opportunity to repeal it. Accepting the federal funds and standards will further nationalize education in America. Texas appears to be standing firm against it, but most states have fallen in line with the unions and the federal dollars.
Many foundations and independent think tanks have examined the standards and found cause for alarm. A top down educational model aimed at conformity for all schools and all students alone, is cause for alarm.
National testing will be revised to conform to the standards, and teachers will be locked in to this teaching to the tests. The great Liberal Arts, and the historic understanding of Western Civilization, will suffer under Common Core and much of it replaced with what is termed 'informational" readings. An example is a reading from the Environmental Protection Agency, titled "Recommended Levels of Insulation." Another is "Strengthening Federal Environment, Energy, and Transportation Management; Executive Order 13423." Obviously these are to awaken interest in vocation and career paths.
The History standards deprive students of any depths of true American History and Constitutional study. The Math standards are declared weak by very brilliant math professors. Algebra One is set for 9th grade instead of 8th grade, which is not a good goal for college readiness. When we hear the term "internationally bench-marked", are we moving toward more U.N. goals and cooperation?
Teachers and Parents alike are opposing the centralization of education in America. Parents are not willing to turn over the minds of their children to a faceless, faraway, federal bureaucracy. The Department of Education was created by an act of Congress is 1979 and signed into law by Jimmy Carter. State and local control in education has been lost by degrees as designated funding has been established by public/private partnerships of un-elected people behind the scenes. All has been hailed as "improving standards and bringing education reform."
The largest contribution for Common Core has been made by the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation, and the Carnegie Foundation of New York. It is all in place. Publishers' catalogs are already in the mail with texts hailed as conforming to Common Core. The situation rests now with the Alabama Legislature. The Republicans have the majority votes to do their will on the matter.
The Alabama State Board of Education should be held responsible for what is taught in public schools in Alabama. In addition to opposing Common Core, we trust that they will oppose the data mining that accompanies Common Core and is being pushed on the schools. At least 41 states have accepted grants for expanding data collection on students and families. Is there any justification for a national student data base? How would your family feel about such a violation of privacy?
There are serious problems in education in public schools. These challenges can best be handled locally with teachers and administrators who know and love the students, who understand the advantages and the disadvantages that students bring into their classrooms. They are in those classrooms to teach and to deal with the other needs of the students. Alabama teachers desire to produce a moral and literate student who will be a lifelong learner. This is easily achieved with a child from a loving, stable family. It is difficult for the many children today who suffer from brokenness and other disadvantages. The teacher in your neighborhood school understands more about the needs of the students than the faceless architects claiming control of local and state education content.
Parents have every right to face their elected school board and state house members to confront them with these concerns. For the sake of the children and the future of this state and nation, keep the control of education at the local and state level. Keep the moral base that is required for liberty to prevail. Uphold the Constitution which leaves education outside of the national government and in the hands of parents and community.
What I should know about ‘common core”. Check out these websites.