This final article of the series should eliminate the few remaining undecideds on this issue. It will address the areas of parental rights, privacy, constitutionality and subsidiarity.1
Parental Rights Regarding Education, What Rights?
The flawed educational movements leading up to Common Core have been eroding the timeless principle that parents allow the state to educate their children and not vice versa.2 Therefore, that is why it can be said that Texas federal judge Melinda Harmon was speaking in error when she said,
“Parents give up their rights when they drop the children off at public school.”3
In one situation where parental discretion was criticized, “Two New York mothers faced ridicule for objecting to the use of Magic Gathering-a psychologically addictive occult card game-to teach math. It didn’t matter that the elementary age students would ‘summon’ the ghostly forces shown on the cards they collected, calling out ‘spirits, enter me.’”4
In a 2005 sex-education case, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that “Once parents make the choice as to which school their children will attend, their fundamental right to control the education of their children is, at the least, substantially diminished.”5
These examples are pre-Common Core, so how does Common Core figure into this disregard for parental rights? One author states the bottom line that “The Standards are owned and copyrighted by nongovernmental entities unaccountable to parents and students in the individual states.”6
The standards are famous for included “exemplars” not appropriate for the age group in question. Regarding one in particular, Dr. Mary Grabar commented, “”I must admit that I would have been too embarrassed to teach Julia Alvarez’s sexually explicit novel, In the Time of the Butterflies, to the college students I have taught for over twenty years, much less to ninth- and tenth-graders, as many Georgia high school teachers have been instructed to do.”7
CCSS selections also list those which try to evoke sympathy for intrinsically immoral acts such as pedophilia. One example, “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison has since been banned in several school districts. In a review, by Macey France, co-founder of Stop Common Core Oregon, Morrison,
“says she wanted the reader to feel as though they are a ‘co-conspirator’ with the rapist. She took pains to make sure she never portrayed the actions as wrong in order to show how everyone has their own problems. She even goes as far as to describe the pedophilia, rape, and incest ‘friendly,’ ‘innocent,’ and ‘tender.’”8
Fantastic. On to invasion of privacy…
Common Core’s Extensive Data Mining of Students AND Their Families
There are two ways of looking at this. Common Core’s:
“There are no data collection requirements for states adopting the standards. Standards define expectations for what students should know and be able to do by the end of each grade. Implementing the Common Core State Standards does not require data collection. The means of assessing students and the use of the data that result from those assessments are up to the discretion of each state and are separate and unique from the Common Core.”9
Or the “back door” method regarding data collection similar to the carrot-and-stick approach used to push the adoption of Common Core by the states. Examples:
In the President’s Race to the Top (RTTT), federal dollars were given so long as the states committed to “four key areas of reform.” While RTTT does not refer to the Common Core specifically, it called for “development of rigorous standards and assessments” as well as “’adoption of better data systems to provide schools, teachers, and parents with information about student progress’ (this is where concern over data mining comes in).”10
Additional push for data mining comes from another source of funds for state’s education: the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF). It, too, does not mention Common Core by name. Nevertheless, the trouble for privacy accelerates when its second requirement says that “The state must assure that it will take actions to … establish and use pre-K-through-college and career data systems to track progress and foster continuous improvement.” In other words, this tracking extends throughout the school years and beyond.10
The Core’s supporters will object that the data collection is being done by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), not by it! CCSSO is co-holder of the Common Core standards copyright. It’s their system of “statewide longitudinal data systems” which will follow students from pre-school to college/career. Based on guidelines from the National Center for Education Statistics, the tracked will include data like “student’s name, name of parents or family members, address of his/her family, a personal identifier (like a SSN, student number, or biometric record), and ‘indirect identifiers”’ such as a date of birth, place of birth, or mother’s maiden name.”10 It might as well be specified in the Core.
In an attempt to calm fears, an Education Department brief states that “sensitive information” would require “written parental consent” before a minor could participate in “any survey, analysis or evaluation.” After all, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) protected the use of students’ identifiable information by third parties. [Read more of the Act at http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/leg-history.html]
HOWEVER, a New American article by Mallory Sauer points out:
“Parents might reasonably assume that the “personally identifiable information” collected for the database will include students’ test scores and perhaps other measures of academic proficiency. But they would be much less likely to imagine that the federal government envisions something far more extensive and invasive than merely tracking academic performance.”10
It can be claimed that the author was talking about “new opportunities” and not procedures already in place by Common Core. 10 Still, there is reason for grave concern as much-needed federal funds are tied to programs requiring intrusive data. For example, for companies creating textbooks and educational software have a long leash here:
“But the Department of Education has reshaped FERPA so that any government or private entity that the department says is evaluating an education program has access to students’ personally identifiable information.11 Notifying the students’ parents is no longer required. The Electronic Privacy Information Center, an advocacy center focusing on civil liberty infringements, warned that this revision will expose “troves of sensitive, non-academic data.”12
In addition to not protecting homeschoolers in some states, 13 this posting goes on to say:
“Data collection will not be limited to homework grades, extracurricular activities, and future career paths. In February 2013, the Department of Education sponsored a study called Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance which analyzed how to record any factors that might affect educational success including socioeconomic background, classroom climate, personal goals, and emotions during homework assignments. The study laments that functional MRI machines, which can measure specific brain activity, are not practical for use in a school setting. But the authors note that the Gates Foundation is collaborating with researchers to explore other methods of ‘how specific brain activity is correlated with other cognitive and affective indicators that are practical to measure in school settings’.”14
George Orwell would be astonished.
10th Amendment, Department of Education and Common Core
“The powers not delegated by the Constitution to the United States, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
Roger Pilon, constitutional scholar has said: ‘‘From beginning to end the [Constitution] never mentioned the word ‘education.’” Yet, the Department of Education has been around since 1979 when it came into being during the Carter Administration — even though the Constitution does not give authority to the federal government to collect taxes for funding and operating schools.15,16
This Department complicates the situation for those who wish to defend it. To quote the Cato Institute again:
“It’s fair to say that the Department of Education has had no apparent positive effect on the academic performance of U.S. school children. Instead, its major effect has been to move the focus on improving education from parents and local districts to Washington, D.C. Federal guidelines now cover topics such as how schools discipline students, the content of sex education courses, and the gender of textbook authors. Former secretaries of education Lamar Alexander and William Bennett have stated that the department has ‘‘an irresistible and uncontrollable impulse to stick its nose into areas where it has no proper business. Most of what it does today is no legitimate affair of the federal government.”2
Common Core is essentially an extension of the Department of Education. Recall from Part 2 of this series: “In March 2009, the Department of Education revealed its backdoor method of gaining federal control of state educational policy…” Thus, Common Core also fails to pass the constitutionality test, too.
While this series has exposed much of what has been wrong about Common Core since its first stages of issuance, one author was particularly adamant about what the root argument against the Core should be:
“We cannot oppose Common Core because it does not align with our values. We must oppose it because it violates this country’s principles…The pundits, journalists, etc. who report and commentate on Common Core only serve to further the disease. The commentary should end at Common Core being unconstitutional because it is not an explicit power delegated to Congress and therefore the Tenth Amendment is being violated.”17
Subsidiarity Joins Unconstitutionality As an Opponent of Common Core
In addition to the fatal flaw of unconstitutionality, there is the practical problem regarding “subsidiarity.” Simply stated, subsidiarity means that decisions should be handled at the lowest possible level for maximum efficiency and fairness. It is the antithesis of the Big Brother who creates these comprehensive laws.
The wisdom of subsidiarity is acknowledged by both religious and secular organizations. The Catholic Church is the second biggest organization in the world. It espouses this concept which “a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions….”18
Switzerland is respected for its ability to “bring together Catholics and Protestants and German-, French-, Italian – and Romansh-speakers… Above all, Switzerland has a successful currency union without the euro zone’s central edicts on everything from deficits to labour policy, pensions and investment…What lessons does Switzerland offer? A strong doctrine of subsidiarity [emphasis added], whereby tasks should be done at the lowest possible level of government.”19
Like many federal programs, Common Core began with good intentions (well, for the most part) and a reasonable strategy for accomplishing objectives. Unfortunately, it evolved into a bureaucratic and social monstrosity.
By its nature it’s unconstitutional – regardless of the fact that its ancestor, the Department of Education, has been around for 36 years and is permitted to exist despite its lack of constitutional basis. Common Core also violates the wisdom that education can, and therefore should be, handled at the state and local levels. Its origins were falsely represented in order to gain quick and nearly blind acceptance by the states – and without input from teachers and parents being used in its formulation.
True, the standards are higher than those of a number of states in some cases. However, the standards and guidelines were structured to permit and, in reality, impose a secular humanism that is neither the will of the people nor based on the essential principles which have made our republic flourish. Common Core caps it off with a plan to intrude on many aspects of families personal lives, under the guise of improving curriculum, in order to cement its inappropriate control of citizens’ lives.
It’s clear that “The Education Department operates from the deeply erroneous belief that American parents, teachers, communities and states are too stupid to raise their own children, run their own schools and make their own decisions.’’7 No, Jonathan Gruber didn’t say this.
Thus, the recent warning from Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC, 4th district) is becoming all too clear.
“Well, I would hope my fellow citizens would keep this in mind and the next time anybody tries to sell them a, quote, ‘comprehensive piece of legislation,’ whether it’s Dodd/Frank or whether it’s the immigration bill the president so desperately wants. Comprehensive is Latin for “there’s lots of bad stuff in here.”20 The Administration’s track record has proven this conclusively. Now, Common Core is aiming to make education a fourth member of this group.
Mary Jo Anderson summed Common Core well: “Its goal is a standardized American worker—A plug and play worker unit. Our goal is a thinking person, an educated citizen.”8
Oscar A. (Tony) Rubio is a writer who merges the lessons of history with current events to suggest a better path. This Cincinnati native resides in Clermont county and believes that our national mood would be improved if we listened to more Big Band and Jazz. He is certain that we must take action on the local and state levels now if we are to realize our hope that the White House will be occupied by the party which respects human life, the Constitution and Natural Law beginning on January 20, 2017. Tony blogs at www.cartaremi.wordpress.com and www.sportuoso.wordpress.com.
All opinions expressed belong solely to their authors and may not be construed as the opinions of other writers or of OCR staff.
1 – From Merriam-Webster: “the quality or state of being apart from company or observation, freedom from unauthorized intrusion.” Rubio’s addendum: “This property, formerly a hallmark of citizens in the United States of America, became under attack primarily by the federal government during the mid-20th century. By the 2010’s, it was rarely observed.”
2 – “The right and the duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable…Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children…” from paragraphs 2221 and 2223 of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” Liguori Publications, Liguori, MO, 1994
3 – “What Happened To Parental Rights?,” by Berit Kjos in 1996 citing James Becker, Editor, Schooling for a Global Age, (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1979), xiii, xvii.
4 — “What Happened To Parental Rights?,” by Berit Kjos in 1996
5 – “Three Views: Do the Common Core Education Standards Endanger Religious Freedom?,” by Kevin Theriot, Karen Swallow Prior and Kristen Blair, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/october/three-views-do-common-core-standards-endanger-religious-fre.html, 10/22/2014
6 – “Common Core: The ‘State-led’ Myth,” http://www.parentalrights.org/index.asp?SEC=%7BDD1E4039-3547-4CCE-B0FD-4B46B866FF76%7D, quoting http://pioneerinstitute.org/download/controlling-education-from-the-top/ (accessed 4/22/2013), p.2, May 2, 2013
7 – from “A ‘Common Core’ for a Global Community,” http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/0013/common-core/1-common-core-lighthouse.htm
8 – “Common Core Sexualizes American School Children,” by Mary Jo Anderson, http://www.crisismagazine.com/2013/common-core-sexualizes-american-school-children, 12/17/2013
9 – from the Common Core site section on “Myths vs. Facts,” http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/myths-vs-facts/
10 – “Common Core and Date Mining: Fact and Fiction Part II.” By Gracie Olmstead, http://www.theamericanconservative.com/common-core-and-data-mining-fact-and-fiction-part-ii/, 3/10/2014
11 – “10. Does the Common Core include a national database?”, http://www.hslda.org/commoncore/Topic10.aspx, quoting Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins, “Controlling Education from the Top: Why Common Core Is Bad for America,” A Pioneer Institute White Paper no. 87 (May 2012): 19.
12 – “The changed regulations allow any governmental or private entity that the Department of Education designates as an “authorized representative” and who is evaluating an education program to access students’ personally identifiable information without notifying their parents. The Electronic Privacy Information Center challenged these modifications to FERPA in early 2013, but a judge in the U.S. District Court for D.C. dismissed the suit on an issue of standing. For more information, see http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html.,” Ibid.
13 – referring to a previous HSLDA article, ““Family Educational Records Privacy Extension Act,” HSLDA, accessed June 11, 2013,http://www.hslda.org/Legislation/National/2011/HR2910/default.asp
14 – “Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century” (U.S. Department of Education, February 2013), 45, accessed June 11, 2013, Ibid.
15 – “Cato Handbook for Congress, Policy Recommendations for the 108th Congress,” by the Cato Institute, http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/cato-handbook-policymakers/2003/9/hb108-28.pdf
16 – “Why then was the Department of Education created? President Jimmy Carter, during whose watch the new department came into being, had promised the department to the National Education Association. Contemporary editorials in both the New York Times and the Washington Post acknowledged that the creation of the department was mainly in response to pressure from the NEA. According to Rep. Benjamin Rosenthal (DN.Y.), Congress went along with the plan out of ‘not wanting to embarrass the president.’ Also, many members of Congress had made promises to educators in their home districts to support the new department,” Ibid.
17 – “LOTFI: Many Conservatives Wrong on Common Core,” by Michael Lofti, http://benswann.com/conservatives-are-completely-wrong-on-common-core/, 11/25/2013
18 – paragraph 1883 of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” Liguori Publications, Liguori, MO, 1994
19 – “Charlemagne / Hail Helvetia,” The Economist,” July 19, 2014
20 – “Gowdy Slams ‘Arrogance’ of ObamaCare architect for calling Americans ‘stupid,’” from The Kelly File on Fox News, aired on 11/11/2014 and posted on 11/12/2014