Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Public education slipping out of our hands; we must fight to get it back

[Updated March 3, 2011, to add a paragraph about CCSS also being a "maximum standard."]

By Laurie H. Rogers

The Common Core State Standards (national standards) are leading to national assessments, which are leading to a national curriculum. Sec. Arne Duncan has spoken publicly about making all federal taxpayer money for education contingent on adopting this federal vision. The national assessments will be online, perhaps leading to a national database of our students and teachers. And there you have it: Nationalization of public education. This is a national experiment -- untested, unfunded, long-term expensive, and with no student data to support it.

Many people don't realize that the CCSS aren't just a "minimum" standard. They're also a "maximum" standard. Washington would be allowed to add up to 15% more content to the CCSS, but no more. Additionally, the costs of adding, supporting and assessing that extra 15% would be borne by state taxpayers. Therefore, it's likely we would get the CCSS as is, whatever they are, whatever they become under the people who control them. The CCSS are a gateway to a national test and a national curriculum. At that point, parents have nothing more to say about what our children are learning in the public schools that we pay for. It will all be said for us.

A large portion of this country doesn't want this. But who cares about what the people want? So far, in Washington State, few education administrators or lawmakers have paid much attention to what We, the People want in public education. It makes me wonder: Who could actually stop this train?
  • It won’t be the state legislators who wanted to adopt the CCSS sight unseen. They listened to well-reasoned arguments against their adoption, and they voted for the standards/tests anyway.
  • It won’t be the state legislators who didn’t want to adopt the CCSS at all. After Washington Superintendent Randy Dorn provisionally adopted the CCSS last year, our legislators never had a chance to vote against their permanent adoption. Last year’s “provisional” adoption was a de facto permanent adoption – not that anyone told the people this. At this moment, Washington taxpayers have a slim chance, if legislators amend an existing bill to include language preventing the adoption. The time to do that is almost gone.
  • It won’t be the governors or state education agencies who were always on board, right from the beginning, before the CCSS were written, before the people knew about it, before we had a chance to think about it, before anything was even down on paper.
  • It won’t be the local school board directors who heard the people say "wait!" and who heard the governor and the state superintendent say "do it" -- and who promptly voted to do it.
  • It won’t be the local superintendents who appear to view the people's wishes with general disdain and who always supported the CCSS/tests initiatives, arguing for them with incredibly weak, yet wildly successful argumentation.
  • It won’t be those teachers unions that climbed on board the nationalization train, or the ones that are reluctant to stand tall in support of their beleaguered teachers.
  • It won’t be the media that are filled with praise for these initiatives and for the people involved in them, or that are absolutely silent on the more worrisome aspects.
  • It won’t be the teachers who - out of fear for their jobs - have remained largely silent, and who now have a big target on their backs via a national "Blame the Teacher" movement.
We must understand what's bearing down on us here. Our last recourse, as parents, is to leave the system. And when the U.S. Secretary of Education, Bill Gates, the NGA, the CCSSO, Achieve, and Pearson Education don't want us to leave? What will happen then? There are people in charge now who would have no problem with limiting, monitoring, or regulating private schooling or homeschooling ... or with eliminating homeschooling completely. All for the good of the children, of course.

For all intents and purposes, folks, we have already lost our voice. The Education Machine already has complete control. It's still playing nice, pretending that We, the People have input. But the process already is sewn up tight.

We can see the truth in those rare instances when someone stands up to fight it. Then the boot comes out. Or, when we expect to have input, and we see that our voice was purposefully slanted, rewritten, removed, and rephrased. Or, when we expect our legislators to vote against something, and they can't ...  never having the opportunity to do what we ask.

What We, the People must do now is fight to get back our voice. This national standards/tests/curriculum movement is likely to lead public-school classrooms right back into reform math hell (that many of us sadly were never able to leave). But wherever it takes us, that path will be mandated, away from the people, away from our input or our control. And without real accountability to the people, without our dissent, without our arguments, and without our vote -- but with a bottomless pit of our tax dollars -- these initiatives could well bury this country for generations.

Despite all of this, I have hope. I believe in the democratic Republic, and I believe in the people. The solution rests with all of us. We've been persistently lied to, and so most of us have been silent, not understanding what's happened. Or, we've been concerned, but unsure of where to take our concern. It doesn't have to stay that way.

In Spokane and in the surrounding area, the people are listening. I'll speak to any group, I'll do it for free, and I'll fight for as long as I can. This battle is about more than the children, more than the teachers, more than the future of public education. This really is about our future as a free and educated people.

Please note: The information in this post is copyrighted. The proper citation is:

Rogers, L. (March 2011). "Public education slipping out of our hands; we must fight to get it back." Retrieved (date) from the Betrayed Web site: http://betrayed-whyeducationisfailing.blogspot.com/

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