"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

From the Taxpayers to the Legislators: Common Concerns Regarding Common Core Standards.

We have been encouraging Missouri citizens and other taxpayers to contact your state legislators regarding common core standards, wanting to know their stance on states relinquishing educational sovereignty and signing onto to unfunded debt.

I have been corresponding with a friend from another state who has contacted her state legislator and here is a chronicle of events:


Friend Writing Day 1:

Today I got my 1st email response from a state legislator re: the Common Core. He said he wasn't aware of any strings and if there were any, they were federal strings. Talk about demoralizing.

My response:

And did you ask him, why in the world would he accept ANY money and/or strings from the federal government as educating children is a sovereign right afforded to the state?

Friend’s response, Day 2:

That will be my next missive. Here's what my last note said as an example of an unproductive way to contact a state legislator:

Dear Representative ******,

I am again writing to you regarding the sale of local control of education to the federal government. Today I received an email from the *** Parent Council which included the following:

"For fiscal year 2011, the year we are in, the Governor proposes holding K-12 education harmless from new cuts by using one-time available federal funds of $150 million. In other words, the Governor is proposing that there be no mid-year cuts for our public schools; that is good news! We will be encouraging the Legislature to follow the Governor's lead."

Some of us don't agree that relinquishing local control of curriculum is a nifty way to raise cash. What are the strings attached to these dollars? Most of the public is in the dark. PLEASE represent our students, teachers and parents by raising the issue that most are not brave enough to acknowledge: Our state’s adoption of the Common Core Standards removes parents from the process of curriculum choices in our state. Some things should not be for sale. At least the public needs to know what Arne Duncan is getting for the money. Does a possibility exist for public comment on this issue at the State Capitol?



Follow up note from the friend:

I've asked the governor's office where the federal $150 million came from. Surely that info will be in my inbox momentarily. Some unfortunate bonuses of the common core were the gratis spine-ectomies performed on state leaders.

The more I discover about CCSSI, the more I realize I have much to learn. Just wish I could communicate to my fellow citizens:

· what it involves,

· how control of our own students' education and privacy matters more than dollars,

· the federal dollars are woefully inadequate to pay for implementation and

· the whole program will be counterproductive as parents, the very individuals with immediate, sincere and irrefutable interests in student outcomes, are removed from the equation. In my opinion, the state does not want the public to know, as evidenced in part by the summertime adoption of CCSSI when it first reared its ugly head in the state. As a conservative I am dismayed by the lack of leadership and seeming hypocrisy of state officials.


This was not written by a Missourian, but the issues are the same, even as it relates to the State Board adopting common core standards in the summertime when there was no legislative oversight, and our overwhelmingly conservative state legislature which refuses to address the issue.

Apparently common core standards create common questions about state sovereignty, privacy issues, unfunded mandates and the lack of state officials apparently not being concerned about those issues. My friend and I suggest to these otherwise conservative legislators to read the Constitution for their "spine-ectomie" condition and grow a spine when it comes to protecting and asserting states' rights.

We’ll keep you apprised if the taxpayer receives an answer to her questions. Will she receive similar information (which we refuted) DESE sent out (not to the taxpayers but to the legislators) in response to these same type of questions?

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Little Bit of Wisdom For The Weekend

Wisconsin's streets are filling with union protesters. Ohio is joining in, and is likely to be followed soon by New York and California. The middle east seems to be on the precipice of a meltdown. The seemingly slow devaluation of the US dollar is causing dramatic rises in prices elsewhere in the world adding fuel to the fire. It's easy enough to find bad news out there, so instead I thought I'd give you a break and share a little humor with you all from an e-mail about paraprosdokians making the rounds. Since this blog is about education and education is the passing on of life's wisdom from one generation to the next, here are some pieces of wisdom to brighten your weekend.
  • Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
  • We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
  • War does not determine who is right - only who is left.
  • Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • Evening news is where they begin with 'Good evening', and then proceed to tell you why it isn't.
  • To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; To steal from many is research.
  • A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.
  • Dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish.
  • What most of us want is not a career, but rather pay checks.
  • Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says "In an emergency, notify:" I put "DOCTOR"..
  • I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
  • Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?
  • A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
  • The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!
  • Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won't expect it back.
  • A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you will look forward to the trip.
  • Money can't buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.
  • I discovered I scream the same way whether I'm about to be devoured by a great white shark or if a piece of seaweed touches my foot.
  • You're never too old to learn something stupid.
  • To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Civics Lesson for the Day in Wisconsin: Teachers Call in Sick (but feel well enough to protest) and Democratic Legislators Run Away.

If you need a reason to want to reform education and to reduce the power of the unions over public education, just read the following articles here and here. They report on the 25,000 public education teachers who have not reported to work and brought students to protest the Wisconsin governor's budget proposals. Schools have had to close because of this "sickout".

Is this action "for the kids" or is it for the preservation of a system that is no longer financially sustainable? From "Have Teacher Unions Nuked the Fridge":

Furthermore, taking the kids out of classes to march with them underscores another significant concern of the public regarding education. Most of the students marching with their teachers had no idea of the finer points of Governor Scott Walker’s proposal to bring teacher pension contributions in line with the private sector, a position the union called “slavery” just a couple of months before conceding the point. Nor do they understand the budget gap that Walker faces, or the nuances of economic policy, tax burdens, and growth policies. All they know is what their teachers told them — and that speaks to political indoctrination conducted in public schools by activist teachers, and the inability of parents and communities to weed out inappropriate politicking in classrooms.

Thirty years ago, the public saw teachers as underpaid and overworked professionals trying to prepare the next generation for leadership. These days, the teachers unions are doing their best to present an image of arrogant entitlement combined with an inability to withstand scrutiny and accountability. When that $40 million failed to rescue Democrats from their midterm debacle, it may well have been a nuke-the-fridge moment that brought a dawning realization of the political albatross that teachers unions have become.

When Governor Walker attempts to do the job he was hired to do (reduce the budget so his state can pay its bills) and presents it to the Wisconsin legislature, what do the Democratic legislators do? They act as petulant as the union members and....disappear so a vote can't be taken (from "Dems on the Run: Wisconsin Senators to Leave Illinois for an Undisclosed Location"):

In a telephone interview, Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller (D-Monona) said he was upholding the rights of workers and the democratic process. He declined to give his location but acknowledged that at least one other Democrat was with him. He said that law enforcement would be able to compel him and his members to the Senate floor if they are located in Wisconsin.

“I can tell you this – we’re not all in one place,” Miller said. “This is a watershed moment unlike any that we have experienced in our political lifetimes. The people have shown that the government has gone too far . . .  We are prepared to do what is necessary to make sure that this bill gets the consideration it needs.”

The fleeing Democrats have been located in Illinois. Is this the type of behavior the state of Wisconsin deserves from its Democratic politicians in making important budget decisions? Senator Miller states "he was upholding the rights of workers" by fleeing the state capitol so discussion and a vote could not take place.

What happened to the rights of the taxpayers who are paying these public sector workers? These public sector employees are shirking their professional duties as teachers. When you hear unions saying "it's all for the children", think back on this display of pushback from the teachers union. How is this reforming education and providing a good educational foundation for public school children?

These teachers need to go back to school and study accounting: when a state is operating in a deficit, it needs to cut costs and job benefits need to be adjusted and some jobs may be eliminated. Welcome to the real world. When a private company doesn't make a profit, changes must be made or the company may cease its business operations. This is the hard lesson public sector employees are learning that private sector employees have known and keep in mind as they make business plans and budgets.

The Democratic legislators need to understand they must make decisions to benefit the state as a whole, not to protect public sector employees at the expense of the private sector. Running away so the debate and vote can't occur? Oh, please. Elected officials are supposed to be statesmen/women, not mouthpieces for special interests.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Voucher Program Giving Control Back to Parents

Today the Washington Examiner reported on HJR 10, a bill co-sponsored by Rep. Barnes, Dieckhaus and Jones that would repeal Section 8 of Article IX of the Missouri Constitution which currently prohibits the state or any local government from making “an appropriation or payment from any public fund … to help to support or sustain any private or public school… college, university, or other institution of learning controlled by any religious creed, church or sectarian denomination whatever.”

The bill seeks to return the control of education to parents by tethering education funding to the student rather than the school. This is a voucher program with a special emphasis on including religious run private schools in the pool of schools eligible to receive state tuition. The actual language that would be added to Section 8 is as follows:

“The parents or guardians of children in this state shall have the freedom to choose any school for their minor children to attend and, should they choose a school outside that assigned to them by geographical location, then shall be provided with a stipend to pay for education at any accredited school of elementary or secondary education in an amount equal to the amount that would otherwise be paid by local and state government for the child to attend the public school in his or her school district.”

The bill is likely to shake the unions for the usual reasons. They will claim that the entire public education system will suffer if tax dollars go to private schools. Those who have watched Waiting for Superman or The Cartel know this is a weak argument with plenty of evidence against it, but it will be dragged out for another parade around Jefferson City. Students currently attending private schools already save the state millions of dollars per year. Since the average private school tuition is less than the per child state tuition, this bill might actually save the state some money. The specifics have not yet been written, but it is understood that the state funding would only be available to low income students in unaccredited districts.

It would also add fuel to the discussions on the state funding formula currently taking place. Those districts who opted to accept “hold-harmless” funding from the state are currently sitting pretty while districts operating under the Foundation Formula are facing a crisis due to the downturn in the economy and the drop in real estate valuations (more on this later this week.) The state’s goal of fair funding to each of its approximately 525 school districts faces another layer of complexity if funding is tied to the student. The exodus from poor performing districts to better performing ones is inevitable under this plan. What is not yet clear is how those districts will be able to effectively budget to handle the influx of new students. In many cases, it is not even clear how those districts might physically be capable of handling the additional student enrollment.

Voucher bills have been introduced for many years now, but perhaps with the Republican majority in both the House and Senate, this one might actually stand a chance of passing. If this bill gains any traction, watch for its opponents to push for requirements for private schools to adopt the Missouri Curriculum to ensure that your tax payer dollars are being spent wisely. And if Missouri is on track to adopt the consortia developed standards (CCS) the better private education parents are seeking with this bill might disappear.

There is one more facet whose unintended consequences should be pondered. Currently, any school receiving federal educational grant money is required to participate in the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) Program. This database contains what some consider intrusive personal data on each student and is expensive to implement. Private schools, therefore, may not wish to participate and may refuse to accept state tuition, thus diminishing the benefit of HJR 10.

If passed, this measure will be on the November 2012 ballot.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Why Aren't Public School Parents and Taxpayers Descending on State Capitols Protesting the More Restrictive and Expensive Education Regulations?

From the online version of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, hundreds of homeschoolers and their parents descended on Springfield Tuesday to protest the state's pending legislation in homeschooling:

The bill would make home-school kids register with the state Board of Education. Currently there are no regulations.

The sponsor, Sen. Ed Maloney, D-Chicago, originally presented the bill as merely a way for the state to know how many kids there are who are homeschooled, as they are currently completely off the radar.

This explanation didn't sit well with many homeschooling parents:

In the crowd was Larry Wright of Harvard, Ill., who said his reasons for homeschooling his kids were both religious and philosophocal. "I want to raise them the way I think they should go," he said. "I'm responsible for my kids, not the state."

He said he understands the bill would require just registration, not restrictions, but that it's still "intrusive and unnecessary.''

"They're trying to fix something that's not broken," he said.

There are reports that Maloney has pulled the legislation (SB 136), though it's still currently in the system. In any case, the expectation around here is that lawmakers will quickly drop this thing once they get a look at all these angry moms, and get back to not balancing the budget.

Apparently that is what happened as subject matter testimony was heard meaning no vote would be taken.

Let's look at what's occurring in the public educational realm and the reaction of parents to the new controls the federal government is instituting on the schools. More money is needed for more regulations resulting in less state and local control. At this point, the state and local levels of education control (DESE and local districts) are largely impotent as standards and assessments are driven by consortiums funded by the federal government.

There has even been speculation and some evidence the federal government is designing curriculum models and framework for the consortium which possibly could be used for state and local curricula. Federally written curricula is currently illegal, but hey, why not? The federal government dangled money in front of the states' noses to get them to sign onto common core standards and give up their sovereign right to educate their children, so what's the problem with the federal government dabbling in curriculum development?

Local districts at this time can set enrollment requirements for their residents, but may not be able to much longer once open enrollment becomes the law. Ineffective teachers and administrators may be assigned to your school to ensure the fair and equal redistribution of teachers, so even staffing issues will be taken out of your local school board's jurisdiction.

When the longitudinal data system becomes operable, questions and information needed by the consortium will be asked of your child that won't seem to have anything do with educational issues. Instead, they may have more to do with profiling your child to steer him/her toward suitable employment based on his/her emotional make up and intellectual accomplishments. Your child's data will be shared with the Departments of Health and Human Services, and Labor and Education. Your child will be tracked from birth to age 20 and into the workforce.

Why are there no parents and taxpayers descending on every state capitol demanding an end to the wasteful and unfunded spending, bureaucracy, invasion of privacy and a direct slap in the face of state sovereignty in the adoption of common core standards? Why are public school parents and taxpayers allowing their children, grandchildren and the youngest members of society to become the current cash cows for the alleged privatization czars of education?

If educational reform consisted of true privatization of education as we wrote about yesterday, this would be a glorious moment for parents and taxpayers. Authentic competition would exist. But when you just place children in a different school with the same standards and assessments as traditional public school and stick a label on it promoting "school choice", it is a direct insult to taxpayers and students. This is no choice. This is a shell game.

Real choice requires different options. These current "choice" options don't change the educational foundation of what children are learning, they just change the teachers, administrators and physical surroundings.

The homeschooling parents may be the most radical group in America right now. They are saying "NO" to the government and its notion of educational delivery. Good for them. They understand what's at stake here: FREEDOM TO EDUCATE THEIR CHILDREN IN THE MANNER THEY AS PARENTS DEEM VALID.

What is it going to take for the parents and taxpayers to stand up to Bill Gates and Arne Duncan and all the other players who are shoving illegitimate choices down the our throats and say "NO" as well? Do we need to suffer through another four decades of increasing(180%) federal spending on education with no improvement in test scores to finally understand the federal government doesn't/can't deliver its educational promises? Why are taxpayers and parents so willing to give up the educational freedom for children and hand it over to unknown players in a consortium that view children as "human capital"?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Perhaps Homeschooling Parents Should be Heading Up the Department of Education. They Spend Less Money for Better Test Results.

We are highlighting two articles tonight regarding educational expenses and test scores with the expenses noted. One article, from Homeschooling United gives statistics from homeschooling expenses and test scoring, and the other is written by Andrew Coulson from Cato, tracking Department of Education spending and resultant test scores.

Homeschooling United states the following:

In 2009, Dr. Brian Ray released a study on the progress of homeschooled students compared to their publicly schooled counterparts.

Drawing from 15 independent testing services, the Progress Report 2009: Homeschool Academic Achievement and Demographics included 11,739 homeschooled student from all 50 states who took three well-know testsCalifornia Achievement Test, Iowa Basic Skill, and Stanford Achievement Test for the 2007-08 academic year. The progress Report is the most comprehensive homeschool academic study ever completed.

National Average Percentile Scores
Subtest Homeschool Public School
Reading 89 50
Language 84 50
Math 84 50
Science 86 50
Social Studies 84 50
Core-a 88 50
Core-b 86 50
Core-a is a combination of Reading, Language, and Math
Core-b is a combination of all subjects that the students took on the test.

There was little difference between the results of homeschooled boys and girls on core scores.

Now we'll focus on some information published by The Cato Institute entitled "The Impact of Federal Involvement in America's Classrooms:"

For over half a century, a succession of Congresses and presidents has sought to do two things for American elementary and secondary education: raise overall achievement, and narrow the gaps between high- and low-income students as well as between minority and white students. The federal government has spent roughly $2 trillion on these efforts since 1965, adjusting for inflation.1

Math and Reading scores at the end of high school are unchanged over the past forty years, while Science scores suffered a slight decline through the year 1999, the last time that test was administered. Data from another nationally representative test series show a continuing decline in 12th grade Science between 1996 and 2005, the last year for which we have trend data.

We spent over $151,000 per student sending the graduating class of 2009 through public schools. That is nearly three times as much as we spent on the graduating class of 1970, adjusting for inflation. Despite that massive real spending increase, overall achievement has stagnated or declined, depending on the subject.

Why is the difference in test scores so marked between homeschooled students and public educated students? How is it that even families who spent less than $600.00 annually on homeschooling performed at an 86% level while public educated students at almost $10,000.00 per year only scored at a 50% level?

One could make the assumption that homeschooling parents have higher level of education and income than parents of public educated students and that's the reason they outperform publicly educated students . Here's more information from Homeschooling United:

Household income had little impact on the results of homeschooled students.

$34,000 or less – 85th percentile
$35,000 – $49,999 – 86th percentile
$50,000 – $69,999 – 86 percentile
$70,000 or more – 89 percentile

Educational level of parents:

Neither parent has a college degree – 83rd percentile
One parent has a college degree – 86th percentile
Both parents have a college degree – 90th percentile

Whether either parent was a certified teacher did not matter.

Certified (i.e. either parent ever certified)-87th percentile
Not certified (i.e., neither parent ever certified)-88th percentile

Andrew Coulson of Cato reports on the importance of the level of parental education for public education student testing results:

But what of the federal government's other educational goal: narrowing the achievement gaps by income and minority status? Test score breakdowns by family income are not available, but we do have something close: a breakdown by parents' level of education. This allows us to compare the children of high school dropouts to those of college graduates. In Reading and Science, the gap between these students has not narrowed in 40 years. In Math it has narrowed by barely one percent of the test score scale.3 So, here again, federal appropriations and the programs they have funded have failed to achieve their goals.

So what are we to make of this? It's obvious that parents having a higher degree impacts homeschoolers' test results. It seems obvious this fact impacts public school students as well. But the 33%-36% difference in test scores between homeschooled students and public school students is staggering. What causes such a huge difference between homeschooled scores and public educated student scores?

If you follow the last four decades of educational thought and spending, you might believe if the government just throws more money at the problem, the problem will be resolved. Coulson writes:

To sum up, we have little to show for the $2 trillion in federal education spending of the past half century. In the face of concerted and unflagging efforts by Congress and the states, public schooling has suffered a massive productivity collapse — it now costs three times as much to provide essentially the same education as we provided in 1970.

So throwing money at the problem isn't the answer. Federalized standards aren't the answer. Homeschoolers test better than publicly educated students....how do we provide better education to public school students, then? What is it that homeschooling students receive from their education that apparently is missing from public education? Coulson gives us an idea on what has worked with a small section of public education students:

But amidst this bleak overall record, there is one federal education program that has been proven to both improve educational outcomes and dramatically lower costs. That is the Washington, DC Opportunity Scholarships Program. Research conducted by the Department of Education finds that students attending private schools thanks to this program have equal or better academic performance than their peers in the local public schools, and have significantly higher graduation rates. This, and very high levels of parental satisfaction, come at an average per pupil cost of around $7,000. By contrast, per pupil spending on k-12 public education in the nation's capital was roughly $28,000 during the 2008-09 school year.6

The OSP program is thus producing better results at a quarter the cost.

What do the homeschooling community and the private school industry have in common? Little to no governmental interference, no common core standards, innovative curriculum and autonomy in teaching to each child. Now those are radical educational practices; but really, they are not all that radical, are they? Those educational practices have been proven to work for students vs the school "choice" currently being pushed by million dollar lobbyists. Those programs such as trigger options and charter schools are not "choice": they are still controlled by common core mandates and assessments present in traditional public schools. What exactly do you call a choice that is not a choice? An educational version of musical chairs?

Why isn't the DOE studying the successes of homeschooling and private schools and adapting and adopting what they are doing right to truly reform public educational systems? Why aren't local communities allowed to use their tax dollars to provide educational opportunities that work for their district children instead of having standards and assessments dictated to them? How much more money and control will be wrested from taxpayers and states to refine federal programs that haven't worked for at least the last forty years?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Britain's Lesson on Common Core Standards. How's That Working Out?

Recently we discussed the DESE document sent to a state senator describing common core standards. We questioned several statements put forth by DESE:
  • the "close alignment" of the ShowMe Standards to the Common Core Standards even as the Fordham Institute rated Missouri as receiving a "D" in communication arts and math when compared to the Common Core Standards,
  • the statement that the standards implementation should be seamless and not costing Missouri any extra assessment time and money, even as assessment training will be necessary for teachers and administrators,
  • the standards are state-led and not national-led even as Ed Week has published articles with concerns about the federal funding and control of curriculum resources,
  • the fact no mention was made of the computers (and the funding ) needed by districts for the mandated assessments to be completed on line
Missouri and even US citizens are not the only ones asking questions of their Boards of Education. Here is an article entitled "Ed Problems Reside at Core" from the Heartland Institute pointing out the fallacies of common core standards in Britain, where they have been instituted for some time. Robert Holland makes good arguments against the adoption of these standards that DESE believes will help Missouri children excel in education:

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address illustrated just how much political duplicity has entered the debate about national education standards. While crowing about the success of his Race to the Top in purchasing states’ buy-in to the so-called Common Core math and English standards — and asking Congress for even more bribe money — the president then stood truth on its head by depicting the incipient national curriculum developed by Washington insiders as a grass-roots effort.

Education progressives who delight in this disingenuous exercise of power to push national standards (and soon, federally subsidized tests as well) upon all U.S. public schools ought to take warning from England, a country where statist curricular guidelines are firmly entrenched.

The whimsical words of Roger Miller’s old country tune come to mind: “England swings like a pendulum do.” When a nation with monolithic standards for its schools experiences a shift in political control, the pendulum almost certainly will lurch right or left for education ideology as well.

Witness the changes under way in England led by the Conservative coalition’s minister of education, Michael Gove. The Daily Mail of London reports Gove has severely criticized the previous Labor government for having stripped basic knowledge out of the English, geography, history, and music curricula.

When the leftist Laborites had their turn at mandating what all British children should know and be able to do, they eliminated important leaders such as Sir Winston Churchill from teachers’ suggested lesson plans. The supposed purpose was to give teachers more “flexibility.”

Teachers got loads of leeway, in fact, because “at present, the only historical figures in the entire secondary history curriculum are William Wilberforce, the architect of the abolition of the slave trade, and Olaudah, a freed slave whose autobiography helped persuade MPs (Members of Parliament) to ban slavery,” the Daily Mail reported.

Similarly, “the secondary geography curriculum does not mention a single country apart from the UK or any continents, rivers, oceans, mountains, or cities. It does, however, mention the European Union and global warming.”

In addition, “the secondary music curriculum fails to mention a single composer, musician, or piece of music.”

Gove observes left-wing ideologues believe schools “shouldn’t be doing anything so old-fashioned as passing on knowledge, requiring children to work hard, or immersing them in anything like dates in history or times tables in mathematics.”

Leading the charge for the Tories, the education minister plans to fill in the knowledge gaps. For instance, he will reinstall such authors as John Keats, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Thomas Hardy in the English standards. An overhaul of the history curriculum is supposed to ensure that all children thoroughly learn Britain’s “island story” before graduating.

Proponents of knowledge-based learning on both sides of the Atlantic will applaud Gove’s intentions. But what will happen to England’s national education standards when the political pendulum swings back and the Laborites return to power? Out will go the basics and in will come the multiculturalism and political correctness once again. None of this reflects the preferences of parents.

The United States is not yet at the point of no return regarding national standards. There are standards only for English and mathematics, but proponents are talking about adding history and science and maybe more. Forty-four states have voted to accept the national standards, many of them doing so (as the president himself indicated) in a bid to gain favor with the Obama administration in its distribution of Race to the Top cash. However, with only a dozen states winning grants and the Republican-led House unlikely to approve more such loot, some states’ political leaders are talking about revoking their adoption of the Common Core standards.

Now is the time for the nation to decide whether we really want to commit to education standards forever subject to political manipulation by Washington and crazy swings in the national political pendulum. Would we prefer to have a national minister of education decide what our children will study, or be able to choose for ourselves from among schools offering diverse curricula and methods?

Within a marketplace will probably be an approach just right for each child. Parents can’t be sure of that when Washington’s politicians and special interests are writing a common playbook.

The "school choice" being pushed by special interests in Missouri and other states won't be offering diverse curricula and methods. The charters, the trigger option, and open enrollment legislation will create schools under the same common curricula and methods as traditional public school. The "marketplace" of choice is just a move to a new building...you are still stuck with the same standards and assessments from the public school you just left. The "common playbook" is an appropriate label for what is masquerading as "educational reform".

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