Should public education in America serve the needs of leftist teachers’ unions or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce? The National Governors Association (NGA), one of the owners of the Common Core standards, asserts that when Congress reauthorizes No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the law should allow states to “align” education with the needs of businesses in order to bolster workforce development.
The nonprofit NGA is one of the developers of the Common Core standards and owns the copyright — along with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) — to the standards. In a joint press release this past week with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the NGA presented what it calls a “bipartisan path for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA),” the latest version of which is NCLB.
The press statement announced the release of “Governors’ and State Legislatures’ Plan to Reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act,” which sets out the groups’ mission.
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R), chair of the NGA Education and Workforce Committee, said in the press statement that the waivers from NCLB many states received in exchange for implementing the Common Core standards and setting up massive student data collection systems were “important tools.” Nevertheless, he adds that, “government by waiver is a sign that underlying laws do not work and are in need of reform.”
Vice-chair of the same committee, Gov. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), continues, spelling out the plan for “workforce development,” also known as “school-to-work:”
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act will allow states to align our needs through early education to higher education with the needs of our innovative businesses, developing a stronger workforce development pipeline, expanding opportunity for all of our people and ensuring that students are prepared for success in all phases of life.
In a statement that underscores the goal of education for the service of the state, rather than the individual, the NGA and NCSL say they recommend the new ESEA:
Ensures that state goals are aligned, where possible, with the state’s workforce development plan and state career and technical education initiatives to ensure that students develop the skills necessary for the state’s current and future workforce needs.
“Hey, anything that lets them tell their businesses that they are free to use the public school system as their employee training centers and shift liability for employee performance to the state is fine with them,” parent activist Anne Gassel writes at Missouri Education Watchdog.
In their plan, NGA and NCSL cite “bold educational changes” created by governors and state legislatures “through ground-breaking partnerships between school districts and various state agencies – including education, health and human services and economic development.”
“However, the current ESEA governance structure fails to take advantage of this innovation and too often isolates federal education programs from state education reforms, threatens local control of education and creates fragmentation that prevents smooth transitions for children,” the groups say. “It is time to take the next step by reforming ESEA to ensure that federal education policy supports students in all phases of life.”
In fact, despite stating their plan incorporates “basic principles of federalism,” NGA and NCSL say, in the section of their plan addressing accountability and testing, “In order for accountability to work, federal prescription must be replaced with a federal, state and local partnership that makes certain every child counts.”
Observing the irony of the governors and state legislatures groups still inviting in the federal government for a “partnership” to create education policy, Gassel adds:
They can’t seem to wrap their heads around the idea that if their states are in charge of education, there is no need for a federal plan or governance structure. Governance resides with the governors of the states. They are asking for federal approval to do what they already have constitutional authority to do. It’s a bit like someone sitting at a green light waiting for the traffic cop to show up and wave them through.
“Unfortunately our Governors don’t recognize that they already have all the authority they need to do what they want and instead are asking for permission, thereby granting control to the feds,” Gassel writes. “This is not leadership, Governors. This is middle management at best.”