Monday, 15 April 2013

GOP Blasts Obama-backed National Education Standards

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The increasingly vocal campaign to stop an Obama administration-backed set of national education standards known as “Common Core” from being forced on state governments and local schools just got a major boost on Friday. Meeting in Los Angeles last week, the Republican National Committee (RNC) unanimously adopted a resolution blasting the “one size fits all” educational scheme as “an inappropriate overreach to standardize and control the education of our children so they will conform to a preconceived ‘normal.’”

Instead of the “Common Core State Standards” being pushed by the Obama administration using taxpayer-funded bribes, the RNC, echoing the 2012 Republican Party Platform, said it believed in providing “broad education choices” to parents and children at the state and local level. A free market-based approach to education is best, the resolution continues, adding that it would help students to achieve individual excellence.

Among the many complaints against Common Core outlined by the GOP is the fact that the organizations responsible for developing the deeply controversial standards did so through a secretive process that was not subject to Freedom of Information laws. Also on the list of grievances was the scheme’s federally funded testing and data collection, as well as the sharing of “massive amounts of personal student and teacher data.”

The centralization of education and the accompanying loss of choices is one of the most common themes found throughout the strongly worded RNC resolution. “The CCSS effectively removes educational choice and competition since all schools and all districts must use Common Core ‘assessments’ based on the Common Core standards to allow all students to advance in the school system and to advance to higher education pursuits,” the document explains.

Federal law, the resolution goes on, prohibits federalizing school curricula. Despite that clear prohibition, however, the Obama administration accepted Common Core and even used so-called “stimulus” money to reward state governments that were most committed to advancing the president’s controversial education agenda, Republican leaders said. According to the resolution and numerous experts, the executive branch also failed to give states, legislatures, and citizens enough time to review the national standards before having to commit to them.

“The Republican National Committee recognizes the CCSS for what it is — an inappropriate overreach to standardize and control the education of our children so they will conform to a preconceived ‘normal,’” the RNC resolved, adding that it rejected the unapproved collection and sharing of student data with outside agencies or entities. “The 2012 Republican Party Platform specifically states the need to repeal the numerous federal regulations which interfere with State and local control of public schools, (p36) (3.); and therefore, the Republican National Committee rejects this CCSS plan which creates and fits the country with a nationwide straitjacket on academic freedom and achievement.”

The RNC resolution rejecting Common Core comes amid increasing grassroots pressure at all levels to stop the controversial scheme, Education Research Fellow Joy Pullmann, with the non-partisan Heartland Institute, told The New American in a phone interview. “The national one is kind of building on this grassroots pressure going up to the top,” she said about the RNC resolution, adding that all across the country, activists — both within and outside the GOP — are rallying to defeat the national education standards.

While over 40 states originally committed to the agenda, at least a dozen are reconsidering so far, Pullmann said. And this is just the beginning. “I think there are several weaknesses in the position of advocates for Common Core,” she explained. “The easiest days for Common Core are now behind it.” Pullmann added that there were several major “pressure points” coming up that could shift momentum toward opponents of the national educational agenda: the costs, a review of the actual standards, the implications of the national testing, and more.  

Even the “establishment” media has finally been forced to report on Common Core and the myriad controversies swirling around it. On April 6, for example, the Washington Post published a government-school teacher’s resignation letter lambasting Common Core. In his now-public resignation letter to school officials, social studies teacher Gerald Conti of New York criticizes the whole new approach to education, which he said could no longer be tolerated.

“‘Data driven’ education seeks only conformity, standardization, testing and a zombie-like adherence to the shallow and generic Common Core, along with a lockstep of oversimplified so-called Essential Learnings,” Conti wrote in his letter, which has “gone viral” on the Internet. “Creativity, academic freedom, teacher autonomy, experimentation and innovation are being stifled in a misguided effort to fix what is not broken in our system of public education.”   

Fox News, meanwhile, highlighted deeply controversial “science” standards in an explosive article published last week. Textbook publishers are already working to ensure that their materials conform to the national scheme. Among other concerns, however, the new program being recommended for states and schools nationwide uses discredited propaganda surrounding so-called “global warming” and the United Nations’ theories about how human activity is driving it.

“Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming),” the elementary-school standards claim, despite the fact that even climate alarmists admit there has been no “global warming” in over 15 years. Evolution is also heavily emphasized in the controversial scheme even though more than half of Americans reject the theory in scientific polls.  

In light of the growing furor among Americans over national education standardization, Republican leaders praised the adoption of the resolution. “The RNC has just backed up what we have been saying in Alabama, that the Common Core Standards are bad for our children and are a gross overreach into the lives of Americans by the federal government,” said Alabama GOP Chairman Bill Armistead, calling on state lawmakers to stop the scheme. “We do not need the Obama Administration to tell us how to educate school children in Alabama. Therefore, I am calling on the Alabama Legislature, once again, to stand up to this overreach by the federal government.”

While commentators and grassroots conservatives were celebrating the small victory, however, some experts urged caution — at least until Republicans across America take concrete steps to stop Common Core. “Several Republican key players have been very involved with promoting and the formation of Common Core,” noted Curriculum Director Mary Black with Freedom Project Education, an independent-minded non-profit that provides classical K-12 online schooling. Among the Republicans who have supported Common Core — critics refer to them as RINOs — are prominent members of the establishment such as Jeb Bush.

“The Resolution itself is good and needed, but I think the reason and motive should be brought forth,” Black told The New American. “So much money has been poured in to selling Common Core, developing it, not to mention the ties to the stimulus package, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, et cetera, I am skeptical that this resolution will do much good except for making the Republicans look like heroes to the American people who have united in large numbers against Common Core.”

Critics say it is essential that Common Core be stopped at the state level, even if it means turning down taxpayer dollars being unconstitutionally doled out by the federal government. Opposition to the national agenda has been growing fast, too, with homeschoolers, conservatives, many teachers, libertarians, Tea Party groups, lawmakers, and more all rallying to stop the plan before it takes root. However, according to analysts, whether or not the effort to standardize education nationwide will succeed really depends on how much pressure liberty-minded activists can muster. 

Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, politics, and more. He can be reached at

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