Lamar’s coal-powered car – photo credit: US News & World Report
by Eric Holcombe
Lamar has been busy lately (it is campaign season after all) trying to sell us on his convictions about president Obama’s “national board of education”, whatever that means. He even tagged along recently with a group of Senators writing to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to declare:
“Federal law contains a number of general limitations on the federal government’s involvement in decisions concerning academic standards and curriculum.”
All this protest and new-found conviction has to do with Arne moving to count the NAEP test scores toward a state’s programmatic compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as part of his “Results-Driven Accountability”. I can think of at least two reasons for the recent change of heart:
1. Tennessee is not scoring well on the NAEP, even after spending $500 MILLION plus of fraudulently obtained Race To The Top federal tax dollars. We are still below average on every metric. This won’t jibe with our current state propaganda of highest, bestest, most improvingest scores ever.
2. If the federal government gets to decide (*wink*wink*) who the testing contractor is, uh, I mean which federal test we use to qualify for federal dollars, then that whole Achieve Inc./PARCC/Bill Gates enterprise may not pay off as planned.
I say if Lamar was really against Common Core and federal government control of education, he shouldn’t have sent that first letter to Arne Duncan heartily endorsing it. Remember, the one in Appendix A (page 32) of the Race To The Top application? The application that explicitly committed the state to the Common Core “state” Standards when they didn’t exist yet? The same application that committed us to the increased data-mining and soon-to-be PARCC assessments? In that letter Lamar said:
“In utilizing these federal funds, Tennessee seeks to capitalize on its assets – a rich pool of data, a plan for revamped standards and assessments, increasing collaboration with high-tech firms and facilities, and an expanded charter school system. Tennessee’s RTTT proposal builds upon these assets and will accelerate reforms necessary to support educational achievement and excellence.”
So you see, it is all about the wrong fox getting to guard the henhouse. He sounds like Andrew Johnson, the “military governor” (just try to find that in your Constitution) of Tennessee for “honest” Abe Lincoln. It’s all sour grapes when you sold out your neighbors and now you aren’t getting the payoff you expected.
But see, Lamar isn’t really against Common Core. In this story from last year, you see the same objection to federal testing – well only as long as the federal government is getting to choose the test. How about this whopper:
“Referring to the Democratic education bill, the subject of today’s committee meeting, Senator Alexander said, “If your proposal passed, and the state of Tennessee – which adopted the ‘common core’ standards before the secretary ever included it in Race to the Top or anything else, and even helped write the standards – then wanted to change its standards, it would have to amend its state plan, send it to the secretary, he’d peer-review it, and he could approve it or disapprove it.”
Uh, Lamar, please actually look at the 1100-page application for Race To The Top you endorsed with your letter to Arne Duncan, like maybe the first 10-12 pages is all it would take.
“Senator Alexander said “Common core” standards “are the result of a state-led effort, driven by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, and were meant to be a set of standards states could voluntarily adopt to improve their K-12 schools.”
In other words, they are not “state-led” (by actual residents of Tennessee) but driven by the two Washington DC corporations that hold the copyright to them and collected all that money from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Since the first “confidential” draft of the Common Core State Standards did not even exist yet when Lamar wrote his letter endorsing them in the Race To The Top application, I am not sure where he gets the idea that they were ever anything else than a federal bribe in Race To The Top. That is the first time they ever appeared. NO ONE had implemented them prior to that – because they didn’t exist. Just like Lamar’s convictions.