An organization of parent activists, retired teachers, and other professionals from around the nation has released an open letter to President-elect Donald Trump, urging him to do all within his power to return control of education to parents.
Parents Against Common Core, which consists mainly of the heads of state groups that have been fighting for repeal of the controversial standards, writes:
Though primarily parents and not policy experts ourselves, there is no escaping the fact that our individual and group research, writing and lobbying efforts have caused Common Core to be either repealed or modified via law and/or policy all across the nation. It is also an inescapable fact that the majority of our success in opposition grew spontaneously and fully from the interactions with our own children and schools and therefore hold specific and direct experience no mere “policy expert” could possess.
In the letter, which can be signed by others at its website, the parents ask Trump to consider them as the key “forgotten” group in education, and to do all within his power “to see that control over the education of our children is returned to us – PARENTS and GUARDIANS – those best suited to advocate in deference and defense of those being educated at the hands of the taxpayer.”
With a goal of ultimately ending the U.S. Department of Education, the parents’ recommendations to Trump include:
- Scale back and eventually cease the flow of education funding from the federal level to the states
- Scale back and eventually cease the role of writing and dictating education policy from the federal level to the individual states in singularity or in toto
- Scale back and eventually cease provision of grant opportunities from the federal level to the states for any reason, but specifically to cease and prevent support of any federal education policy, but especially related to invasive, ineffective social emotional learning, preschool, and home visiting programs
- Revise and modernize the FERPA law for the specific purpose of protecting individual student privacy rights, including prevention of unauthorized and/or anonymous digital capture of granular data – specifically rescinding the changes to FERPA through the Office of the Federal Register undertaken in 2011, as well as maintaining the wise federal prohibition on a student “unit record” that would link college and workforce data for individuals.
- Transfer funding for and oversight of The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to the states and remove the Common Core requirements for grade level instruction and testing for students receiving Special Education and related services.
- Appointment of a Secretary of Education who is committed to reducing, if not eliminating, the federal footprint in education; who understands the Constitutional role of the federal DOE is non-existent; who will work to eliminate any incentives or requirements supporting Common Core; who understands that Title 1 portability will impose Common Core and other federal strings on private and home schools, completely undermining your key promise of local control; and who is a parents right advocate…
The parents’ recommendations for the post of U.S. Secretary of Education include Dr. Williamson (Bill) Evers; Dr. Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College; Dr. Sandra Stotsky, standards writer and professor emerita, University of Arkansas; Dr. Peg Luksik, Pennsylvania constitutionalist and co-founder of the Center for American Heritage; and Dr. William Jeynes, professor of education at California State University, Long Beach.
As Breitbart News has reported – and the parents especially note – Evers was invited to be a member of Trump’s transition team. A vocal critic of Common Core, Evers is a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and served as both an advisor and assistant U.S. Secretary of Education under President George W. Bush. In addition, Evers was named by both former California governors Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger to serve on commissions that evaluated and recommended academic standards.
In January of 2015, Evers penned an op-ed for Education Week in which he denounced the Common Core State Standards:
[I]ncreasingly, parents and taxpayers view the public schools as an unresponsive bureaucracy carrying out edicts from distant capitals. Today, we are dealing with a deteriorating situation in a declining institution, namely widespread ineffective instruction in the public schools.
The common core’s designers have taken the existing bureaucracy and increased its centralization and uniformity. By creating the common-core content standards behind closed doors, the authors increased the alienation of the public from schools as institutions worthy of loyalty. The general public had no voice in creating or adopting the common core.
The common core’s promoters are endeavoring to suppress competitive federalism. The common core’s rules and its curriculum guidance are the governing rules of a cartel. The common core’s promoters and their federal facilitators wanted a cartel that would override competitive federalism and shut down the curriculum alternatives that federalism would allow.
The new common-core-aligned tests, whose development was supported with federal funds, function to police the cartel. All long-lasting cartels must have a mechanism for policing and punishing those seen as shirkers and chiselers, or, in other words, those who want to escape the cartel’s strictures or who want increased flexibility so they can succeed.
The new leadership of the College Board by David Coleman, one of the common core’s chief architects, is being used to corral Catholic schools, other private schools, and home-schooling parents into the cartel. The proponents of the common core have now established a clearinghouse for authorized teaching materials to try to close off any remaining possible avenue of escaping the cartel.
The parents note that in August of 2014, Evers testified to the Ohio House Education Committee: “Competitive federalism encourages innovation, allows movement between jurisdictions that enhances liberty, and permits a better match between policies and voter preferences. Common Core’s national uniformity runs counter to competitive federalism.”
In June, Evers sounded the alarm about California’s radical progressive K-12 curriculum. Writing at the Orange County Register, he observed the new framework “is filled with present-minded paraphrases of the uplifting rhetoric of the Progressives of early 20th-century America.” He noted as well, however, that missing in the curriculum are other facts about the Progressive movement, such as their “devotion to eugenics and their opposition to African Americans getting an academic education.”