By Karen Schroeder | for Wisconsin Reporter
RICE LAKE, Wis. — Common Core has infiltrated all 50 states, even though several governors initially rejected those federally promoted standards. Numerous governors who regret funding and supporting the Common Core State Standards have promised to repeal the federally aligned standards. Time has shown that those governors have simply renamed the standards. Therefore, the solution to the problem rests with the people of each state.
State governors and legislators can refuse to fund any aspect of federal programs imposed upon their state. They can demand that the U.S. Department of Education be required to bring all policy issues to Congress before imposing them on the states, and they can demand that federal-level legislators protect state autonomy in education. But governors and legislators cannot stop Common Core. People are in the best position to protect their children. Only they can prevent Common Core in their local schools.
Texans rejected Common Core originally, yet Women on the Wall held a National Conference on Education in Austin to address processes for eliminating Common Core from their schools. These federally aligned standards were introduced at the district level and wear a variety of new names, including CSCOPE. Even though the governor rejected Common Core and refused to fund the program, their schools are infected with federally aligned standards and testing.
Many legislators from both parties have tried to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education, the source of most major initiatives that fail our children and undermine the quality of our educational system.
Fairness requires us to recognize the fact legislators would dissolve the federal agency if their constituents supported the effort. If the Common Core Standards and all future federal educational policies are to be stopped, people must provide financial and personal support to all legislators willing to neuter the Department of Education.
The process could begin by removing cabinet status from the agency and by requiring it to return to its original mission: accumulating statistics and being a source of information to the states. No longer should the Department of Education be allowed to write policy and impose that policy on the states.
Legislators could demand the federal government no longer be allowed to tax citizens for federal educational policy making. The millions of tax dollars removed from the states to implement discretionary and mandatory spending on department policies should be returned to the states, and the funding for the department should be cut. Legislators could leave just enough funding to cover the cost of gathering data and disseminating that data to the states.
The basic principle of conservatism is to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution, the state constitutions and state autonomy in education. When conservative legislators refuse to dissolve the U.S. Department of Education, they are ignoring a most basic principle of conservatism.
Conservatives must be willing to work with Democrats who also resent the overreach of the federal education agency. “Bad Ass Teachers Association” and “Dump Duncan,” created by professor Mark Naison, advocate protesting high stakes testing they claim attack teacher autonomy. They recognize that both political parties are responsible for causing this problem and should be responsible for solving the problem.
Additional support for reigning in the Department of Education could come from groups like The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. Their president believes the agency is exercising unilateral executive authority as it attempts to federalize teacher-preparation programs. AACTE prefers that Congress be required to deliberate and act on issues of this importance. Limiting the power of the agency is a goal of the AACTE. Getting along with those who share conservative views occasionally will advance conservatives as being solutions driven.
Parents and citizens are the key to eradicating federal overreach. Conservative leaders who work with groups like Bad Ass Teachers and AACTE would be able to gain support from a broad base of liberals and conservatives to curtail the Department of Education, to return autonomy to the states, to allow teachers to function as professionals, and to make it easier for parents to exercise local control of schools.
Karen Schroeder is president of Advocates for Academic Freedom, a member of the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board, has a master’s degree in special education, and is an educational consultant.Karen can be reached at kpfschroeder@centurylink.