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"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela

Betsy DeVos’ Claim, “Common Core Is Dead,” Enrages Conservatives

By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D.   January 23, 2018

U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos claimed in a recent speech to American Enterprise Institute that “at the U.S. Department, Common Core is dead.”

This is not the first time DeVos has made misleading remarks about Common Core. She told Fox News that, “The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which is in the process of being implemented now, essentially does away with the whole argument about Common Core.”

Except that Common Core is not dead and ESSA does not do away with the whole argument of Common Core.

The Common Core standards or a “rebrand” are still being used in 42 of the states, according to Timothy Shanahan, a professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago and one of the authors of the standards.

In her speech to AEI, DeVos stated that the direction of education had not gone well under both Presidents Bush and Obama because of federal mandates.

She seems not to understand that ESSA codified Obama’s illegal education scheme into federal statute and is a federal mandate. Peter Cunningham, former assistant Secretary for Communications to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, wrote that ESSA mandates the very thing condemned by Senator Lamar Alexander. “Under the new law, every state must adopt “college-and-career-ready” standards. Thus, the new law all but guarantees that Common Core State Standards—or a reasonable imitation under a different name—will likely remain in place in most states.”

Through ESSA, dubbed by Obama as the “Christmas miracle,” GOP leaders and Congress conspired to give the Education Secretary the power to approve or deny states' standards, which is as unconstitutional as the Department of Education.

Common Core will continue to dumb down as our students has it has already. Since Common Core Standards were imposed on the states, reading scores for United States fourth-graders have declined, both for the average score and in comparison with their peers in other nations.

Although DeVos stated in her AEI speech that, “I agree — and have always agreed — with President Trump on this: 'Common Core is a disaster,'" her efforts through the organizations which she has founded and/or funded indicate otherwise. American Federation for Children, one of those organizations, supports a federal voucher.

She actively lobbied for implementation of Common Core in Michigan, financially supported pro-Common Core candidates in Michigan, financially supported pro-Common Core school board candidates in Alabama, and actively worked to defeat a bill that would have ended Common Core in Michigan.

She sat on the board of Jeb Bush’s pro-Common Core and pro-Competency Based Education Foundation for Excellence in Education. Competency Based Education is digital (computerized) education that focuses on workforce training instead of academic learning. DeBos recently spoke at Arizona State University + Global Silicon Valley Summit in Utah about CBE, though she didn’t use that term. Instead, she used CBE terminology - “inputs,” “outputs,” “seat-time,” “mastery.”

She has demonstrated her affinity with Bush, not only on Common Core and CBE, but on other important education issues including federal school choice and digital learning (“personalized learning”) which is a major platform for student data mining. She holds the same world view on education – centralized control with benefits distributed to various corporate and other stakeholders.

She is supporting a federal school choice program but does not address the central concern with federal school choice. The danger is that when federal dollars follow a child, government regulations will also follow, altering the characteristics of the private school that were appealing to parents.

A major concern for conservatives is that DeVos has used Bush acolytes as advisers, including Carlos Munoz as USDE general counsel, registered Democrat James Blew as Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy, and recently brought in Frank Brogan as Assistant Secretary of Education for Elementary and Secondary Education.

DeVos supports ESSA which supports digital learning and data mining. The Philanthropy Roundtable, which DeVos chaired, published a report that promotes corporate data mining of student information.

The Education and Workforce Committee issued a press release yesterday, recognizing National School Choice Week and noting that, “Unfortunately, today millions of students remain stuck in schools that aren’t allowing them to thrive.”

It’s ironic that DeVos is so concerned about how poorly millions of children are doing in public education, when the majority of problems in government schools are the result of her own unconstitutional department and its imposing of left wing ideology and federal mandates.

If she wants Trump’s base to believe she is serious about improving the education of children and getting the federal government out of education, then she must take the lead in getting changes made to ESSA to eliminate federal mandates and next she must create a plan to begin the elimination of the USDE.

Trump’s base is going to hold him to promises made must be promises kept. DeVos is going to be held accountable for making certain that Trump keeps those promises.

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