Sunday, February 15, 2015

He Speaks with Forked Tongue (Or How Can You Tell A Politician is Lying?)

On January 13, 2015, Senator Lamar Alexander, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee better known as the HELP committee (ironic, no?), laid out his plan to "fix" No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

Here are a few quotes from Senator Alexander's January 13, 2015 message along with my comments:

"No Child Left Behind has become unworkable because Congress failed to act for seven years." 
"Those original provisions are no longer workable. Those provisions, if strictly applied today, would be labelled as failing almost all of our 100 thousand public schools." 
Call me dumb but that sounds to me like Alexander admitted NCLB was a failure to begin with.
"That [nearly all public schools labeled as failing] would clearly be an unintended result of.....No Child Left Behind."
"Another unintended result of No Child Left Behind is that the Department [of Education] has become, in effect, a national school board." Remember this phrase, it will come in handy later on.
"The plan that I am suggesting here is to set realistic goals, keep the best portions of NCLB, and restore to the states and communities, the responsibility to decide whether schools and teachers are succeeding or failing."
"The HELP committee's draft working paper relies on, and respects, the 30 years of work by Governors and the Council of Chief State School Officers [Council of Chief State School Officers, you know, the copyright holder of the Common Core State Standards] to develop higher standards, better tests, stronger accountability systems, fair and effective teacher and principal evaluations that will allow parents and communities to know how children in our country's public schools are performing."

So, let you and me take a brief look-see at ‘‘Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015’’ shall we?
(p. 5, line 23) "For any state desiring to receive a grant [Title I], the State education agency shall submit to the Secretary a plan..."

(p.6, line 12) "The Secretary shall...establish multidisciplinary peer review teams and appoint their members..."

(p.7, line 7) the peer review team shall "deem a state plan as approved unless the Secretary presents a body of...research that clearly demonstrates that the State's plan does not meet the requirements..."

(p.8, line 5) purpose of peer review "promote effective implementation of the challenging State academic standards..."

One has to seriously question if the peer review teams, whose members are selected by the Secretary of Education, will not end up as a national school board whose members are only accountable to the Secretary.
Wait just a minute, where have I heard of the phrase, "national school board" before?  Oh yes, it was one of the unintended results/consequences Sen. Alexander mentions in his speech.

(p.9, line 21) "The Secretary shall have the authority to disapprove a state plan..." 
This proves that the Secretary will be the one to determine what a state's standards, assessments, teacher evaluations, etc., will look like.  The Secretary can disapprove a plan over and over again until the state submits a plan that is exactly what the Secretary wants the plan to be. This will allow the Secretary to make sure that each state will have a "common" state plan.  How is this state control as promised by Senator Alexander?
(p.9, line 15) "If a State fails to meet any of the requirements of this section, then the Secretary may withhold funds for State administration under this part until the Secretary determines that the state has fulfilled those requirements."

(p. 99, line 7) "The Secretary shall make grants to States to... pay the costs of the development of the State assessments and standards... which may include the costs of working in voluntary partnerships with other States..."

(p. 117, line 12) "If not reached...or if the Secretary determines that a negotiated rulemaking process is unnecessary, the Secretary may propose a regulation..."

Essentially, the Secretary proposes a regulation, gives notice to Congress, allows for a comment period and then the Secretary makes it an official regulation.

(p. 163, line 2) "Each eligible entity receiving a grant... shall provide to the Secretary...student academic achievement data..."

Since the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was gutted a few years ago to allow schools and the federal government to share student data to anyone deemed an "authorized representative" without parental consent, a large amount of personal, individual student data will still be collected and shared with the US Dept of Ed under "Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015."
It appears there is absolutely no power being taken away from the federal government. The phrase, "the Secretary shall" is contained over 60 times in this bill.

If Senator Alexander is so concerned with "unintended" results, how can he not see that this bill gives the federal government, through the Secretary of Education, unprecedented power in matters that should be left to state and local bodies; that this bill solidifies the creation of a national school board and solidifies Common Core?

And speaking of Common Core, Senator Alexander proudly stated that he is relying on the National Governor's Association and the Council for Chief State School Officers, THE VERY CREATORS AND COPYRIGHT HOLDERS OF THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS, to help craft "Every Child Ready 5 for College or Career Act of 2015."

So just what, exactly, changes with this bill?

Does Senator Alexander think we, the American public, are that stupid to believe things will be different this time around?

Senator Alexander's words of January 13, 2015 do not match up with his actions via "Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015."

Oh yeah, on January 13, 2015, the politician's lips were moving...