The U.S. Senate passed an amendment Thursday that bans the federal government from coercing or incentivizing states to adopt specific academic standards, curriculum, or assessments, including those associated with the controversial Common Core standards.
The amendment, titled the Local Control of Education Act, was introduced by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and would also permit states that originally chose to adopt the Common Core standards to opt out of them without federal penalty, including relinquishing Race to the Top (RttT) funding and waivers from No Child Left Behind (NCLB). States were incentivized by the Obama administration to adopt Common Core with RttT grants and flexibility in the restrictions of the federal NCLB law.
“Parents, along with local teachers, principals, and education leaders in our communities, know best on how to best educate our kids,” Vitter said in a press release. “We should reduce the size and scope of the federal government in our classrooms and return curriculum decision-making and use of taxpayer dollars to those closest to the students – and my legislation would do just that.”
Louisiana grassroots activists who have been fighting against Common Core for several years were pleased to hear the amendment passed, but still insist more work needs to be done to push back against the federal government’s involvement in education in the first place.
“I was so pleased to hear that Senator Vitter’s budget amendment prohibiting the federal government from coercing or bribing states to adopt the Common Core State Standards passed today,” said Louisiana parent Dr. Anna Arthurs in a statement to Breitbart News. “This amendment helps to publicize the federal overreach into local control of education and the abuse of power by our federal government by using funds or the threat of the loss of funds to dictate to the states what their education plans should be.”
“I would like to see Sen. Vitter and other legislators go even further than this amendment by writing legislation to defund the Race to the Top competitive grant as well as stopping the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind,” she added.
Similarly, Louisiana parent, activist, and attorney Sara Wood told Breitbart News she hopes lawmakers are starting to understand that “we do not control Common Core; it controls us.”
“Why? Because of the binding agreements to copyrighted standards, federal waivers and grant money, consortium agreements for Common Core assessments that are very explicit, though state officials may be arbitrarily ignoring or bypassing because of the heat from parents and the risk of losing the whole initiative,” Wood said. “These are obligations that bind the states to the initiative nonetheless, until terminated.”
“With this bill, Sen. Vitter seems to finally have arrived at the understanding that the Common Core State Standards Initiative is a federal mandate on state and local education agencies,” she continued. “I appreciate his efforts, but I just hope that as a Louisiana citizen he will come testify at the state level in support of legislation to get Louisiana out of Common Core and PARCC and to prevent state officials from ever ceding our state’s sovereignty over any aspect of education.”
“Closing in on this initiative by creating limits at the federal level and building up that sovereign wall at the state level is the only way to truly root out something as insidious as this latest federal/collectivist education scheme,” Wood added. “I hope to see our Senator actively engaged and fighting at both ends with parents.”
David Vitter is a candidate in Louisiana’s 2015 gubernatorial race.