The Right View: The fight for Maine schools is about to heat up

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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.

  • jack bauer

    Thank you, Ms.McDonald-Smith, for bringing this important hearing to my attention. By the way, it is not only parents who disdain Common Core, but there are single adults who do as well. Also, thank you for quoting John Locke. Reading a passage of his is a very nice way to begin 2016.

  • drugsandkittens

    Yay! Another word-salad from my favorite conservative “thinker”! Keep ’em coming, Julie! Forecaster, don’t you dare try to hire someone who can write well and present coherent thoughts to take Julie’s place. My life will be empty.

  • Just Sayin’

    Aren’t we being a little overdramatic with your Locke quote here, Julie? It’s more than a bit of a stretch to say that the Common Core represents “an absolute power over the lives, liberty, and estates” of the people.

    There are private schools, there are states that don’t follow common core, there is the option of homeschooling all still as viable options to prove that quote wrong. I’m not one for defending the Common Core standards, but it’s obvious to me that there are plenty of ways to oppose it without trying to act like it’s a challenge that threatens every aspect of our lives. Not everything has to be turned into a weapon for partisan politics, especially not when you actually want to achieve anything constructive.

    It’s this sort of massive overreaction that makes it so hard to take you seriously, Julie.

    • Katie

      My kids are in private school here in Maine. Some of the consumable books that must be purchased each year (vocab, etc.), now say “Common Core” version on them. I called the publisher and they are no longer producing the non-common core version. It is very hard for private and home schools to get non-common core materials. Just sayin’….this is how the CC gets into private and home schools.

      • Just Sayin’

        That’s a decision made by the private schools themselves, however. They could choose to go with a different line of books by a different publisher. It’s the school’s job to make sure it’s offering the best curriculum that it can to the students. At least in that case, families going to that school have the opportunity to vote with their wallet and take their children elsewhere, there’s no shortage of private schools in Maine. Homeschoolers have every opportunity to buy non common core materials, they still exist.

        You do, however, make a valid point here that it isn’t easy to escape the Common Core. Private and home schooling are both luxuries in our society due to the amount of money either takes to pull off, and nationwide learning standards as micromanaged as Common Core do have far reaching effects, such as making it more difficult to find non-aligned textbooks.

        I’d love to see the common core removed and see more money being given to teachers and schools so that they have good textbooks and materials and can afford to hire enough teachers to keep the classrooms small. That’s one of the quickest ways to help education in this country.

        None of this, however, justifies the rant or the invocation of Locke in the article above.

  • tiresias75

    Ma’am, are you off your meds…?