After years of running up against unconstitutional federal education mandates imposed on states using bribes and bludgeoning from Washington, D.C., a group of parents and grassroots education activists from across America is launching a fresh effort to shut down the U.S. Department of Education once and for all. The mission: “Stop Fed Ed.”
In the crosshairs is everything from dumbed-down “standards” such as the Obama-backed Common Core nationalization of schooling and associated federal testing regimes, to the deeply controversial federal data gathering and data mining encouraged and financed largely by the feds. The group hopes to pressure Congress into ending all education-related federal funding, mandates, and data schemes. Efforts will also be undertaken at the state and local level.
In the end, the group hopes that by abolishing the Education Department and removing the federal government's tentacles from America's schools and children, positive reforms can be pursued at the state and local level to improve education — as intended by the framers of the Constitution. Many of the group's leaders have long track-records of pushing state and local efforts to fix various education problems. But with the specter of unconstitutional federal meddling and threats always looming large, that has been difficult.
Now the parent activists are ready to try a fresh approach. The new national organization, U.S. Parents Involved in Education (US PIE), unveiled its new “Stop Fed Ed” campaign at a series of press conferences in recent days, one in Iowa, another in Texas. Speaking for the grassroots parent group, co-director and longtime anti-Common Core activist Sheri Few outlined what she hopes will be a strategy to make good on one of Ronald Reagan's key unfulfilled campaign promises: Dismantling the U.S. Department of Education.
“We have come to the conclusion that it is time for us to quit spinning our wheels in our states, and not gaining the kind of achievements that we're looking for,” said Few, who served as founder and president of South Carolina Parents Involved in Education (SCPIE) since 2000. “We've decided that it's time to put an end to the U.S. Department of Education and end all federal mandates on education. That is why today we're unveiling our campaign 'Stop Fed Ed,' and we're asking you to join the movement.”
Co-Director Few, who despite impressive high-profile endorsements narrowly lost her bid to serve as South Carolina's Superintendent of Education, said she hoped that activists in all 50 states would lead state PIE chapters as part of a national movement. Already, there are chapters established in more than half of the states, 27 to be precise, with widespread interest being expressed nationwide. The plan is to get 50 up and running as soon as possible.
“Parent activists across the country are frustrated with state officials who blame federal mandates for not ending Common Core and the intrusive standardized testing,” said US PIE leadership team member Karen Lamoreaux, a homeschooling mother and prominent education author and activist. “Since the inception of the U.S. Department of Education, federal mandates have done nothing to improve education. To the contrary, its one-size fits all approach has harmed children and rendered academic achievement stagnant, and in many cases achievement has actually declined.”
The proper response to the educational problems afflicting America, Lamoreaux continued, is to return education to local communities where it belongs, and to get Washington, D.C., completely out of the picture. “We need to return control and funding of education to its proper local roots,” she said. “The campaign is needed to inform and motivate the public and move them to action to influence Congress to eliminate federal control and re-establish local control.”
Another member of the group's leadership team, prominent Alabama activist and US PIE leadership team member Theresa Hubbard, also lambasted unconstitutional federal intrusion in education. “For half a century now this experiment with federal control of local public schools has gone on and it’s failed,” she said. “Let’s stop treating our children like rats in some social engineering laboratory and start treating children like children again. The first step is ending the Department of Education.”
The group also has an advisory board composed of various experts in a wide array education-related fields with a diverse set of views and perspectives. (Full disclosure: This writer also serves, uncompensated, on the advisory board.) Among the advisory board members are university professors, dissident members of the Common Core Validation Committee, high-profile activists, education experts, authors, and more.
US PIE leadership team members said the goals and mission of the undertaking are simple: restore local control, eradicate the U.S. Department of Education, and end all federal education mandates. To achieve that goal, the group will use a variety of tools, including a candidate pledge. During the news conferences announcing the campaign, presidential candidates were challenged to sign the pledge. In the coming weeks, congressional candidates will also be asked to sign the pledge. And ultimately, candidates all the way down the ballot — including those running for local school boards — will be asked to sign as well.
“The Department of Education, created thirty-six years ago, has spent well over a trillion dollars and has not improved public education in our country one bit,” reads the preamble to the pledge. “If anything, it’s made it worse.” Most Americans, the document continues, support local control versus federal control of education, and the federal experiment in education has failed.
“It’s time to end the failed experiment and return control of our schools to state and local governments where, through innovation and competition, American public education can succeed as it did before the federal government’s micromanagement began,” the text states. “It’s time to end the practice of teaching to tests and the seemingly endless collection of student data that intrudes on privacy and only feeds a self-perpetuating industry.”
The pledge is short and simple. “As President/Senator/Member of Congress, I will do everything in my power to defund and abolish the unconstitutional U.S. Department of Education and to cease all federal education programs and the collection of student data by the end of my first term in office,” it reads.
According to US PIE leaders, they intend to make signing the pledge a “litmus test” for all future elections. They also plan to use the grassroots networks they have coalesced to get the pledge to every state and local race. Any candidate who refuses to do what they can to end the unconstitutional federal intrusion in education will automatically forfeit the support of the massive and growing tsunami of outraged Americans who want the federal government out of their children's classrooms.
As for what people interested in ending “Fed Ed” can do to help shut down the increasingly out of control U.S. Department of Education, US PIE leaders encouraged concerned parents to visit the website at uspie.org and to contact the PIE chapter in their state. If a state chapter is not yet operating in that state, the group asked concerned parents and activists to contact the national organization.
While the federal government has no constitutional authority to meddle in education, Washington, D.C., has largely usurped control of America's public education system. And despite unconstitutionally spending huge sums of taxpayer funds, education outcomes continue to decline across the United States. The fact that the Department of Education is unconstitutional is, in and of itself, more than enough reason to abolish it. Considering all of the problems it has wrought, though, makes the case even more solid. It is time for local communities to regain control over the education of their children.