OPEN LETTER TO U.S. CONGRESSMAN PETE SESSIONS
February 2, 2016 Education Views
Washington, D.C. 20515-4332
Dear Chairman Sessions:
This correspondence is in reference to your letter of February 1, 2016 which states, “The Every Student Succeeds Act includes major reforms that will stop Washington from imposing Common Core or any other academic standards on states.”
Senator Lamar Alexander has stated that ESSA repealed the Common Core mandate while you have stated that Common Core has been defunded by the Omnibus Bill. However, a Common Core mandate has never existed for the federal government but rather for the states. Neither of you is being truthful with the American people.
In fact, Common Core is embedded in ESSA and the federal intrusion in education is greater and more intertwined than ever before.
The presidential campaigns of numerous governors and ex-governors have been doomed because they failed to push back against Common Core and the federal intrusion into education. After the passage of ESSA, former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan publicly gloated about how the GOP conspired with him and the Obama administration to include everything they wanted in the bill.
As the American people begin to understand what has been foisted on them through ESSA, the U.S. Congressional GOP who colluded in passing a “Christmas miracle” will be facing political death just as have presidential hopefuls who refused to heed the American people.
Your letter quotes passages from the bill which are designed to placate the public with promises that federal restrictions and control are being curtailed. Yet the provisions throughout the 1061 page document clearly indicate states are being forced to align to Common Core or a ” Common Core look alike” while being touted as requirements to maintain high state standards. There is no constitutional authority for Congress to require that.
Here are the facts about ESSA.
- States are required to submit to the USDOE for approval a plan with standards that must be aligned to college and career ready standards. The USDOE makes it clear that “college and career ready” means Common Core. That plan must be coordinated with 11 existing federal mandates which include Soviet-style Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the Education Sciences Reform Act (collecting student data for research), the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Authorization Act.
- Federal testing continues with opting out strictly forbidden or face loss of federal funding. The real issue is the federal government now taking control over test content which includes both academic and psychosocial questions. During testing, computers will collect personal information including student attitudes, behavior, and mindset.
- State standards also must be aligned to the requirements of higher education and “career and technical education standards,” which are federally approved under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Again this is “college and career ready” or Common Core.
- ESSA provides increased federal funding for charter schools – government’s school choice with federal strings attached. These charters must be aligned with Common Core and federal dictates. There is a push to close low-performing schools and re-open them as for-profit charters with no local elected boards. The establishment of each new charter school pushes American education closer to being under total government control without local or parental control -- yet funded by the taxpayer.
- ESSA moves the nation ever closer to a nanny state with the funding of 21st Community Learning Centers which, by design, replace parents and church.
- ESSA also expands the government role in early childhood care even though research has shown there is little, if any, long term learning effect. Harmful social emotional development effects have been associated with children who have attended Head Start. Reassurances that the Secretary of Education does not have any control over early childhood is irrelevant since authority resides with the Department of Health and Human Services with programs that adhere to Head Start and are controlled by federal standards.
In spite of the widespread protests by anti-Common Core grassroots organizations, Congress chose not to delay their vote until a new administration is in the White House, who would hopefully begin a drastic reduction in the federal role in education.
Those GOP officials who are unwilling to listen to the American people and pass legislation which continues and increases federal intrusion in education are going to experience the wrath of the American people at the polls.
Carole H. Haynes
Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D.