Monday, Jan. 11, will be an important day in the morass that is the recent history of education in Maine. For parents who recognize that Common Core is a mess and a disaster, you will have a real opportunity to make a difference, and begin to end this insanity.
Let me begin by disposing of the idea some of you may heard that the latest federal re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (dubbed the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA), does anything to stop Common Core, or return control of education to the states. This is an abject falsehood.
Sure, the law is rife with language stating what the secretary of education may or may not do to impose the feds’ will upon the states. However, the bill does not contain any enforcement mechanisms with which states are empowered when the secretary does in fact violate the law.
We know that violations will occur, because they have already occurred. As long as the unconstitutional federal Department of Education continues to exist, the feds will continue to violate the states’ rights to home rule of education via control of funding. The 1,000-plus page ESSA that just passed the U.S. House and Senate, with no time for the public to read or digest it, which was gleefully signed into law by President Obama (that tells you all you need to know right there), does nothing to protect your children from contrary, agenda-driven, centralized government interference in their education.
So now that we have that straight, let me tell you about a bill here in Maine that gives parents a fighting chance to go up against even that monster bill that just came out of Washington.
LD 1492, “An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Education Standards in Maine,” will have a public hearing before the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs at 1 p.m. on Jan. 11 in the Cross Building, Room 202, in Augusta. The bill submitted by Rep. Will Tuell, a Republican from Washington County, would allow school districts to choose whether they wish to continue using the Common Core State Standards.
I cannot stress the importance of this hearing enough. Everything you hate as a parent about Common Core – the convoluted math, the tears over homework, the developmentally inappropriate elementary school work, the dumbed-down English language arts standards and lack of classical literature – you will have a chance tell the committee. To say that this bill, which includes a choice for return to the pre-Common Core, 2010 Maine Learning Results, and calls for the convening of a local stakeholder group made up of Maine English and math specialists, college professors, high school teachers, special education teachers and others to review content standards, needs to pass to the full House for further consideration.
And while conservatives and the Maine Education Association support this bill, one cannot make any assumptions about members of the Education Committee based on party affiliation. When a bill to repeal Common Core came before this committee last session, co-Chairman Sen. Brian Langley, a Republican, said he and co-Chairwoman Rep. Victoria Kornfield, a Democrat, knew before even hearing any testimony that they were going to vote to keep Common Core in place. I urge members of the public to not let that happen again. This bill enjoys the support of individuals from all walks of life, including MEA President Lois Kilby-Chesley.
I leave you with the words of John Locke, from his “Second Essay Concerning Civil Government,” in the hope that parents everywhere, regardless of party affiliation, will unite and bring pressure to remove Common Core from Maine:
“Whensoever, therefore, the legislative shall transgress this fundamental rule of society, and either by ambition, fear, folly, or corruption, endeavor to grasp themselves, or put into the hands of any other, an absolute power over the lives, liberties, and estates of the people, by this breach of trust They (the government officials) forfeit the power the people had put into their hands … and it devolves to the people, who have a right to resume their original liberty.”
Julie McDonald-Smith lives in North Yarmouth. She is a registered nurse, former Capitol Hill staffer, publicity chairwoman of the Cumberland County Republican Committee, and occasional guest host on WGAN 560AM. She is also married to Maine Board of Education member Ande A. Smith. Her column appears every other week.