In yet another scheme by the federal government to usurp an ever-expanding role in childrearing, the Obama administration’s top education bureaucrat, Education Secretary Arne Duncan (shown), called last week for government boarding schools. Claiming that there are “just certain kids we should have 24/7,” the controversial figure also proposed, citing inaccurate information, turning government schools across America into “community centers” that would offer students even more “after-school programming.” Despite escalating criticism of Duncan and his scheming — one analyst called it “scary” — the proposed plots were hardly surprising considering other elements of what senior officials often refer to as the “cradle-to-career” education agenda.
In essence, according to Duncan in various speeches, government schools, now largely controlled from Washington, D.C., are being used as a “weapon” to “change the world.” With the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as what the education secretary called his “global partner,” public education will also serve as a tool to transform children into what he described as “green citizens.” If Obama’s “Green Jobs” Czar Van Jones had not been forced to resign over his self-declared revolutionary communist views, he could have even placed the newly minted “green citizens” into the “green jobs” Duncan says the feds are preparing them for.
Speaking in Crystal City, Virginia, at the “National Summit on Youth Violence Prevention,” Duncan outlined some of his latest Big Government plans. “One idea that I threw out … is the idea of public boarding schools,” he said at the event, which was organized by a collection of federal bureaucracies including the Education Department and the Justice Department. “That’s a little bit of a different idea — a controversial idea — but the question is do we have some children where there’s not a mom, there’s not a dad, there’s not a grandma, there’s just nobody at home?”
So, to protect children from violence on the streets, they should be handed over to the government for protection, the education secretary argued. “There’s just certain kids we [the government] should have 24/7 to really create a safe environment and give them a chance to be successful,” continued Duncan, who for years has been widely criticized from across the political spectrum for his radical remarks and agenda when it comes to education. The audience at the Obama administration-sponsored, taxpayer-funded confab applauded the bizarre “idea.” Critics and education experts, however, sounded the alarm.
“In one sense, statements like these from Duncan are useful: the cynical mask of neutrality is off now,” explained Dr. Duke Pesta, academic director for FreedomProject Education, an accredited online K-12 school providing classical education based on Judeo-Christian values. “Remember, this is the same Arne Duncan who a few weeks ago issued a threat to states that the Feds would have to ‘intervene’ if states did not curtail parental ability to opt out of mindless Common Core testing. This despite six years of Common Core advocates claiming the new standards are a state not a federal enterprise. Such clarity is welcome and verifies what anti-Common Core activists have been saying for years.”
Indeed, as The New American reported earlier this month, Duncan and federal school bureaucrats are in a panic about the mass refusals by students and parents to participate in the federally funded Common Core testing regime. So concerned are they that state governments coerce Americans into taking the data-gathering assessments that Duncan even threatened federal “intervention” to force the issue. “We think most states will do that,” Obama’s education chief proclaimed at an Education Writers Association conference in Chicago. “If states don’t do that, then we [the federal government] have an obligation to step in.” Of course, the Constitution provides no authority over education, so Duncan actually has an obligation to butt out.
However, aside from the additional clarity regarding Duncan’s true agenda, Dr. Pesta, who has traveled the nation exposing Common Core in seminars across dozens of states, highlighted the darker side of the latest comments. “On the sinister side, such statements are stark reminders that the progressive educrats who run our public schools already view our children as wards of the state,” he told The New American magazine. “This is in line with Hillary Clinton's observation in Iowa that education is essentially a ‘non-family’ enterprise. The writing is on the wall: left unchecked, the state will continue to appropriate more and more parental rights and responsibilities to themselves.”
In addition to “public” boarding schools that would put children under “24/7” control of federal education bureaucrats, Duncan also advocated transforming all government schools into what he described as “community” schools that would go beyond “learning” and keep children for longer hours. “I think all of our schools should be community centers,” he told the audience. “Our schools should be open 12, 13, 14 hours a day with a wide variety of after-school programming.” It was not immediately clear what sort of “programming” students would be subjected to after formal school “programming” ends.
All of it would be under the guise of keeping children “safe,” a key theme of the summit Duncan was speaking at. “Thankfully, in the vast, vast majority of communities around the nation, our schools are actually safe havens,” he claimed, arguing that there was “very little violence” happening in government schools and that the “vast majority” of violence was on the streets. “If we could keep our kids there longer, we think that makes a lot of sense.”
Ironically, however, according to the Education Department’s own data cited by CNSNews.com, “some 1.3 million students ages 12 to 18 faced ‘victimization’ at school in 2012, including 89,000 ‘serious violent victimizations.’” In all, there were about 750,000 “violent victimizations” in 2012 among students aged 12 to 18. The fact sheet cited in the report, compiled by the Department of Education’s own National Center for Education Statistics, shows that students actually face far more violence at school than away from it. But of course, despite Duncan’s lies or “factual mistakes,” keeping students safe from violence was never the agenda.
Indeed, as this writer and veteran educator Dr. Sam Blumenfeld recently exposed in Crimes of the Educators: How Utopians Are Using Government Schools to Destroy America’s Children, the government “education” regime is literally dumbing down U.S. students — deliberately. Using primary-source documents, the book reveals, among other crimes, how progressive education godfather John Dewey, with Rockefeller-dynasty financial backing, set out to destroy the literacy of the American people. The goal: socialism and collectivism. The strategy to get there: dumbing down students and destroying literacy by changing how reading is taught, from phonics to the quackery known as the “whole word” method.
Duncan’s latest ideas about keeping children “24/7” at government boarding schools and transforming the rest into “community” schools should be vehemently rejected — along with Common Core and even the unconstitutional Department of Education itself. The administration, between attacking “white suburban moms” who apparently do not realize how dumb their children are, is also promoting more federal control over colleges and even pushing kids into government facilities from birth for "early education."
Not only will such schemes fail to improve education or keep children safe, it is a virtual certainty that the dumbing down and the indoctrination will only become more thorough and extreme. After all, if hundreds of billions of dollars and 12 years of students’ lives in government schools are not enough to teach children how to even read properly, the notion that more money and more time will fix the problem is simply ludicrous.
Americans from across the political spectrum must work to restore local control of schools and proper education — including the re-introduction of intensive phonics to teach reading — if liberty and real learning are to thrive, or even survive. A good place to start for states and local school districts would be to banish Common Core, stop accepting federal bribes, and restore classical education. Until that happens, the very real and very deliberate crisis in education will continue to grow.
Photo of Education Secretary Arne Duncan speaking at the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention: AP Images