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Thursday, November 23rd, 2017Last Update: Sunday, November 5th, 2017 11:44:31 PM

U.S. Department of Education - Its Time to Kill it

By: Linda Murphy

If we have ever had the opportunity to kill the U.S. Department of Education the time is now. We have a new President, Donald Trump who has said “education must be local.”

He repeatedly said he will “stop Common Core” and “return education to the local level” as he traveled across the country during his campaign.

In his book Crippled America, Trump says: “A lot of people believe the Department of Education should just be eliminated. Get rid of it. If we don’t eliminate it completely, we certainly need to cut its power and reach. Education has to be run locally. Common Core, No Child Left Behind, and Race to the Top are all programs that take decisions away from parents and local school boards. These programs allow the progressives in the Department of Education to indoctrinate, not educate, our kids. What they are doing does not fit the American model of governance.”

“I am totally against these programs and the Department of Education. It’s a disaster. We cannot continue to fail our children – the very future of this nation.” Crippled America, by Donald Trump, p. 50-1, 2015.

As I write this article, President Trump has appointed Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education and is awaiting a vote on her confirmation in the Senate Committee for Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. She may be confirmed in spite of the fact that she is highly opposed by many Republicans, as well as the Democrats, for her lack of knowledge. What is worse, DeVos said in her Senate Committee hearing that she will work closely with Chairman Lamar Alexander, in implementing the new Federal Education law. DeVos already knows Alexander and even contributed to his election campaign and to several other Republicans who sit on the Committee. This is a huge problem for those of us who want to see President Trump dismantle the Department of Education because Lamar Alexander has no intention of doing that.

Alexander, Republican from Tennessee, was Secretary of Education for President George H.W. Bush where the groundwork for more federal control was laid. He also supported President George W. Bush’s federal expansion in education control through NCLB (No Child Left Behind). He is a close ally of former Governor Jeb Bush, and other DeVos backers who work in a network to establish more centralized control of education.

Alexander’s new Federal Education Bill, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), passed with bipartisan support last winter. ESSA locks in federal control over local public school student testing for “accountability.” It also expands federal involvement into the area of psychological testing and training for all students K-12 grade under what is called Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) goals. DeVos shows no signs, and has made no statements regarding any intent to dismantle the federal Department of Education and its control over local public schools. She has stated strongly that she doesn’t want her Charter Schools to be measured by the same system as “regular public schools,” but voiced no concerns over the need to kill the federal monster that has only added to the problems in public education. Is that a level playing field for competition?

According to Allie Gross, a former Charter School teacher and now education reporter in Detroit, Betsy DeVos’ backed charter high school in Detroit scheduled its board meeting at 8:00 AM in the morning at the DeVos owned Amway Building. That made it impossible for teachers and most parents to attend. Charters have no local elected school boards and are often owned by corporations “for profit” while they operate on tax dollars. There is another major problem with “accountability” or “transparency” because corporations do not have to comply with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Allie Gross said she could not get the same information needed to inform the public about the charter school that she can from any “regular public school.”

In Oklahoma we have fought hard for our state’s rights against federal intrusion from the EPA, Education and other agencies that over-reach. In education however, we now have a serious problem of growing federal involvement being initiated at the state level. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister was strongly backed by the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, George Kaiser and others who want workforce training required in K-12 grade curriculum aligned with a national system.

Hofmeister has recently announced on a State Department of Education Facebook post “We Won! Thank you to everyone who helped!! After intensive stakeholder input, research, planning and our in-person pitch by #TeamOklahoma, we won! This $2,000,000. Will help us implement and support individualized academic plans for kids, redefine the senior year, increase concurrent and dual enrollment with earned college credit and career certification, and better connect schools directly with business and industry.”

As I have written in previous columns, this alignment of K-12 with business is a serious problem because the children are considered and referred to as “human resources.” Our children are individuals who should have the opportunity to learn to their fullest potential and not be categorized in a limited job training system controlled from the top-down.

The two million dollars just announced is coming from the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO ) and JP Morgan Chase & Co. CCSSO is the organization that works hand-in-hand with the federal Department of Education on Common Core Standards and on testing. They developed the Common Core tests which the federal Department of Education then approves or disapproves. Though Oklahoma has repealed the Common Core State Standards from our state law, State Superintendent Hofmeister is lining up all of the changes she makes with the national system of Common Core standards, testing and data mining system which has been agreed upon through CCSSO, federal Department of Education and global corporations. Hofmeister also recently asked the state legislature for an increased budget to expand the State Department of Education’s data collection system which will be needed to accommodate the growing data files on each child.

I believe Oklahomans and citizens across the country will continue to stand up for local control of education and work to see that we get it. Officials who play politics and only give lip service to local control will be exposed and removed from office as the public sees what is being done. I support President Trump and believe he sincerely meant what he said about returning education to the local level. We must work on the local and state level too if we want to see that happen. It is time now for us to look closely at what is being said, but then look more closely at what is done. We must work to kill top-down control from the federal government, while we make sure we don’t create another monster of corporate control or public/private top-down education

Linda Murphy was a candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction and was appointed by Governor Keating as Secretary of Education. Murphy was appointed as Deputy Commissioner of Labor, Administrator of the Eastern Oklahoma Department of Labor, Member of the State Job Training Coordinating Council, and the Governor’s School-to-Work Council. She also served on the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women. For more information go to: www.lindamurphyoklahomaeducator.wordpress.com/

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