Legislative Column for April 1, 2014

Federalism in Education

“There are two types of education… One should teach us how to make a living, and the other how to live.” - John Adams

On Wednesday, March 26, the Senate Education Committee held a hearing on two bills that push back against Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and their progressive takeover of Missouri’s education system. The so-called “state standards” are the latest unlawful attempt at national standards, and the roots of this government takeover of education can be traced as far back as 2006. The idea was further promoted by a study in June 2009. The claim that CCSS was state led and grass-roots driven is false.

The CCSS “national” standards were never reviewed or approved by members of the Missouri General Assembly as is required by Missouri law. A review of the standards and recommended readings for the matter demonstrates a spirit of indoctrination, not education. Students are given prejudicial information and then required to form opinions without any facts. A perfect example is the recently developed AP standards for history that can be found here, which were designed by David Coleman, the president of the College Board and the chief architect of the Common Core State Standards.

The theme of CCSS – college and career readiness - is reflective of the flawed “school-to-work” agenda, conceived by national central planners that view students as commodities, laborers, human resources and not as the uniquely created individuals their God and their parents know them to be. Senate Bill 514 and Senate Bill 798 are two bills that would prohibit the State Board of Education, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and school districts from implementing any new Missouri standards without a full and thorough review by clearly defined work groups and the Missouri General Assembly.

Reflecting the sentiment of more and more Missourians as they wake up to the harmful effects of CCSS, over 1,200 Missourians who could not attend the hearing sent in witness forms to oppose CCSS and support SB 798 and SB 514. Of those 1,200, many  came from my Senate district. Those who were able to attend and testify at the hearing against CCSS included school board members, a school superintendent, classroom teachers, parents and educators of special needs children, homeschool professionals, parents, curriculum experts and more.

SB 798 and SB 514 have minor and easily reconcilable differences. The plan is to combine both bills into one that the Education Committee can vote out and send to the senate floor for debate. A companion bill, HB 1708, is making its way through the Missouri House of Representatives.

One of the most profound elements in the undisputable exceptionalism of this country is that we are a “government of laws and not of men.” Abraham Lincoln said it differently: “…of the people, by the people, for the people...” However, the process by which CCSS were implemented in Missouri side stepped both statue and constitution. The process was completely void of governing by laws and is an example of governing by men. The decision to adopt these standards was made unilaterally without involvement of the Legislature or any other elected official except the governor who committed Missouri to CCSS even before the standards were completed and released.

One possible reason some education professionals like CCSS is that it eliminates competition. It means we are all going to be alike with one set of textbooks, one publisher, one testing agency, and eventually one curriculum. Once tests are fully aligned with CCSS (the process has already begun), “teaching to the test” will rise to a whole new level. With its one-size-fits-all design, CCSS completely dismisses the value of federalism and individualism, a vital contributor to the exceptionalism of this country. Proponents of CCSS say it will make moving from state to state easier. However, testimony reported that only three-tenths of 1 percent of students move every year (I have heard a number as high as 1.7 percent). It is likely that military families contribute significantly to that small number, and I have heard it reported that students of military families who move frequently, on average, perform well above the norm.

Common Core removes parents from classroom involvement. If you ask education professionals what would improve education, they will say parental involvement. The nationalization of standards and thereby curriculum eliminates what little local control remains in government schools and gives parents less opportunity to effect any change. We have heard from professionals stating that part of Common Core includes virtual exams. Because these are on a computer, parents are not able to see what their students are learning and cannot even obtain a copy of the test. Also, Common Core is not publicly owned but is owned by private entities making it exempt from Sunshine Law requests, further denying parents access to their children’s information.

Common Core compromises the exceptionalism of America, and puts the personal and educational future of our children at risk. I hope my colleagues recognize the danger of the initiative and join fellow bill sponsor Sen. John Lamping, R-Ladue, and myself in protecting the authority of our state to create our own STATE educational standards.

Thank you for reading this legislative report. You can contact my office at (573) 751-2108 if you have any questions. Thank you and we welcome your prayers for the proper application of state government.