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The Heartland Institute hosted a “Stop Fed Ed” event at the Andrew Breitbart Freedom Center on Wednesday, October 12. The event featured Cora Weber, who discussed her role in the grassroots effort to stop Common Core and (eventually) eliminate the federal Department of Education.
Ms. Weber is a second-generation home-educator, single mom of six, and president of the Illinois chapter of the United States Parents Involved in Education (USPIE.ORG). For nearly 15 years, Cora has worked as an advocate for children by promoting awareness of the socialist progressive agenda in government schools. Weber is currently developing an initiative to guide and encourage religious institutions to adopt a more central role in the education of America’s children.
As president of the Illinois chapter of USPIE, Weber is aligned with the STOP FED ED movement, a campaign led by parents, taxpayers, and educators committed to ending the U.S. Department of Education and Common Core, returning control over education policy to the states, where it belongs. Michelle Malkin serves as an advisor to STOP FED ED and there are 33 chapter presidents. The names and contact information for state chapter presidents can be located by checking this website.
As Heartland’s project manager for education transformation Lennie Jarratt said in his introductory remarks, “Liberals believe that government is the answer to everything instead of the free market.” As to why there is a federal department of education, it’s certainly not about children, Weber said. Control through federal dollars amounts to big business. The experiment with federal control of local public schools has gone on for half a century, and it has failed. Children have suffered by being treated as rats in some social engineering laboratory.
The fight against Common Core has exposed the failures of those trying to force a federally-based one-size-fits-all curriculum on states and local school districts. Even strong Common Core supporters realize the name is toxic and have accepted the premise that the federal government should not be dictating curriculum.
Remarks by Cora Weber
Weber’s initial remarks were accepted with nodding agreement by those in attendance: “The present system is stifling instead of letting children flourish.” Weber discussed the background Department of Education: In 1867 the U.S. Congress passed legislation to establish the first Department of Education. President Andrew Jackson signed the legislation that created the department with minuscule staff, resources, and power. It was a non-cabinet-level agency with a mission of improving American education by disseminating sound education information to local-and state-level authorities. In 1979, Jimmy Carter created an independent, cabinet-level U.S. Department of Education as a political favor to the teachers’ unions. It was not linked to the Interior Department or the Federal Security Agency (FSA), as the Department had been since its founding in 1867. Few remember that in 1980, Ronald Reagan campaigned for the presidency on a platform that included abolishing the U.S. Department of Education, as the department had failed to deliver either better test scores or more rigorous curriculum dedicated to academic excellence.
With the establishment of a cabinet-level Department of Education (DOE) came a 60 percent increase in education funding by 2015, but for what? In 1980, the department’s budget was $11.5 billion. By 2015 the DOE’s budget had mushroomed to $67 billion – a 600 percent increase – with these negative results:
- stagnant test scores
- huge bureaucracies
- massive increases in the cost of education
In Retrospect: From 2003 to 2015, when Common Core was up and running in many states several years prior to 2015, the 8th grade proficiency level in math and reading was deplorable at 33 percent. Alabama, which traditionally has scored in the low 30s, dropped to 30th in the nation – making the state worse off than it had been before Common Core.
Weber asked: If the results from federal imposed education is so dismal, why don’t state leaders just say to the federal government, “We don’t want your little crumbs”? Some wonder how states will survive without federal education dollars. Here’s how: 91 percent of education funding comes from state and local funds. The federal government provides 9 percent. – but with that 9 percent, the feds control 100 percent of the classrooms. Consider also the millions of man hours that are required to meet federal education mandates. Also, sending funds to D.C. and back to states is not efficient.
ESSA as Stealth Replacement for Common Core
Unfamiliar to many attendees were Weber’s remarks about the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), legislation signed by President Obama on December 10, 2015, to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and replace the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
NCLB breaks Common Core down into 11 different programs, which must all link with Common Core standards. There are many faults with the bill, which fails to fix the problems in Common Core. A required survey actually asks children how many times they carry a gun or a knife, and whether or not they wear a seat belt. Such personal information should be none of the government’s business!
There was likewise a $25 billion increase in the funding of NCLB and a 2 percent yearly increase after that with no sunset. Despite glaring faults, which were noted at the time, Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) praised the bill to his fellow senators in a bipartisan agreement made with Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
Because NCLB gives unprecedented power to the Secretary of Education, even if a state wants to establish its own educational standards, they must align with the 11 NCLB programs – which the Secretary of Education can then reject if he finds them lacking. Also troubling is that private companies were called in to create the eleven programs.
Cora Weber Pegs Department of Education As Unconstitutional
Providing guidance is an important part of what Weber seeks to do when making her presentations. She wondered why we are willing to let bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. define the term, and determine what education should look like. Weber further stated: “The Department of Education is unconstitutional.”How so? Because the 10th Amendment directs that powers of the federal government not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution shall be left to the states or the people. There is no Department of Education in the Constitution. “Nowhere in the Constitution is the federal government delegated the power to regulate or fund elementary or secondary education,” Weber said.
She also emphasized how the educational system needs to “align with principles that never change, and not the system that bureaucrats are trying to impose upon the people.” Weber further warned that home-schoolers are not immune from Common Core, which promotes relativism and socialism, as colleges are more and more requiring that students be educated in the Common Core method through admissions testing. The good news is that the free market is coming up with solutions to circumvent what is happening. To find out what a child needs to know to graduate for high school check here. The requirements for graduation in Illinois are quite lenient.
What Can We Do to Help Stop Fed Ed?
Suggestions from Cora Weber include:
- Go to uspie.org to “Join the Movement” and donate
- Like the “Stop Fed Ed National Campaign” Facebook page
- Follow on Twitter: @StopFedEd
- Volunteer with the USPIE chapter in your state
- Get candidates in your area to sign the candidates’ pledge
Q&A with Cora Weber
Question: This nation was founded on the rule of law. What happens when individuals with great power and clout are seen as being above the law?
Answer: This nation must return back to the Constitution which represents the foundation of our nation. Law affects every sphere of our society as set forth in our Constitution. Presently, Weber is reading George Orwell’s 1984 to her six children. It is important that great literature be taught, because it defines who we are, where they came from, and where we are going.
Question: How can we circumvent Common Core?
Answer: Weber discussed a “badge-based system.” When a course is completed, and the student has demonstrated that he/she knows the material, a badge is awarded which can then be taken by the child wherever he goes. Churches, at one time, were very prominent in schooling children, and we must once again take up this mantle. It doesn’t cost all that much money to educate children well. But there is a problem: Many churches are seeped in humanistic outreach and grounded in progressive ideology. There are however, lots of fine courses for free on-line.
[Originally Published at Illinois Review]