Those who fail to remember the past are doomed to repeat it. – George Santayana
Cartoon from the Chicago Tribune in 1934:
It didn’t work so well then, what makes anyone think it will work now?
Pajamas Media has an article about Race to the Top. Race to the Top is an insidious plan to transfer control of our local schools to a bureaucracy in Washington who will have control of curricula being taught to our children. Go here to read the article.
Here are some excerpts from the article:
Despite the vast expansion of federal government mandates on state and local schools, Race to the Top has received relatively little resistance from proponents of smaller government. But the reality is that this plan not only usurps state rights; it also introduces a whole new program of indoctrination.
According to the DOE’s website, “integrity and transparency drive the process” of Race to the Top. In truth, it’s about as transparent as a blindfold, causing many school districts to opt out. Although states like Iowa, California, and Wisconsin applied for the grant money, many of their school districts are not choosing to participate. Citing an inability to get adequate information on the regulations that would be imposed on the schools, districts “struggled with unanswered questions about how tightly the funds would be tied to mandates.” Karl Paulson, a Missouri school district superintendent, wrote, “It is irresponsible for officials from the State Department of Education or State Board of Education to coerce local districts into a commitment through politics and press releases without the districts having the full design and requirements of that commitment being detailed.
Texas Governor Rick Perry, one of the few staunch opponents of the program, stated that it would be “foolish and irresponsible to place our children’s future in the hands of unelected bureaucrats and special interest groups thousands of miles away in Washington, virtually eliminating parents’ participation in their children’s education.” He added that if Washington truly cared about education, it would give the money to the states with “no strings attached.” Among those “strings attached” is a commitment to abandon local curricula to adopt unproven, national curriculum standards.
Still, the focus on charter schools has duped many on the right to support the program. But before cheering for charter schools, parents need to be reminded that the camouflage-clad, militant youth chanting and praising President Obama came from a Kansas City, Missouri, charter school. In reality, that school’s model much more closely resembles the vision of both Obama and Duncan.
Charter schools by definition are free from many of the rules and regulations of public schools. Although they have accountability standards, they set their own curricula and programs. But since the foundation of Race to the Top is setting a core curriculum determined by Washington, the reality is that these so-called charter schools will not set their own curriculum. The DOE is simply redefining the term “charter school” with the hopes that its program can sail through with little right-wing opposition.
With their newly defined charters, they’ll not only be able to change what students are learning, but more easily change who is teaching them. Traditionally, charter schools have been free from the burdens of teachers’ unions so that they can more easily fire and replace bad teachers. When a school becomes a charter school, its teachers even have to reapply for their jobs; enter AmeriCorps.
One of the most startling facets of Race to the Top is its attempt to get rid of as many traditionally educated teachers — i.e., those who go to a college to earn a master’s degree in education — and replace them with “alternatively” certified teachers; and, not just any alternatively certified teachers, but those certified by AmeriCorps’ Teach for America (TFA) and Teaching Fellows, which it runs jointly with the New Teacher Project (TNTP).
Read the whole article here.
Control of local schools belongs in the local community. It should not be at the state or the federal level. We need to educate everyone, especially parents, about what “Race to the Top” is all about.
We have to oppose this program at the local level. Do not let your school district opt in to this program. Retain control over your children’s education.
This is an open letter sent out today by the Heritage Foundation.
An Open Letter to the Congress and the President of the United States: For the last 35 years, educators and analysts at The Heritage Foundation have been intimately involved in the nation’s great public policy debates. In all that time, we have never encountered legislation with such far-reaching and revolutionary policy implications as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act currently before Congress. And never have we seen a bill more cloaked in secrecy or more withdrawn from open public exposure and honest debate.
In addition to being the single most expensive bill ever proposed, this measure calls for a massive expansion of the federal government’s reach into the day-to-day life of virtually every citizen, business and civic organization in the nation. That, in itself, should be the subject of an extensive public conversation and thoughtful debate. Instead, we have seen Congressional leaders schedule snap votes on a 1,434-page bill that no one—repeat, no one—has had a chance to read in its entirety, much less digest and deliberate.
This bill has been advertised as an economic stimulus bill—despite the fact that the Congressional Budget Office estimates it will actually weaken our nation’s long-term economic growth. While the stimulative utility of the bill is, at best, questionable, it would unquestionably rewrite the social contract between the American people and their government. For example:
The list goes on. These and similar provisions will mean fundamental changes in our society. In many instances, the bill would establish policies that directly challenge widely held American values.
We are appalled that Congress is even contemplating such profound changes with so little openness and due diligence. In the past, major policy changes in our welfare system, or health care, or trade policies, etc., were always, quite properly, preceded by extensive public conversation and full debate. That is how a democracy should make important decisions.
The failure of Congress and the Administration to allow that debate is damaging to our democracy. Both chambers of Congress suspended their budget rules to push it along. And both the President and the leaders of the House and Senate have violated their solemn promises that the bill would be available for several days of public review prior to voting, so that the American people might have a chance to learn what is in the bill and to make their views known to their elected officials.
This reckless approach to governance can only undermine public faith in our elected officials and our government as a whole. We call on Congress and the Administration to live up to their promises and stated ideals, and give the democratic process a chance to work.
Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D.
The Heritage Foundation