Friday, September 02, 2005
More Federal Control Over Education
"Issues and Action in Education"
September 2, 2005
"Issues and Action in Education" is an e-letter produced by EdWatch, a nonprofit organization.
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A Civics Trojan Horse - S. 860
The newest federal civics bill (S 860) was introduced by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN). Alexander's S 860 is the next step in the federal takeover of education and would further extend the power of a special interest group, the Center for Civic Education (CCE), over schools and their civics curricula.
As in previous legislation, S 860 is being promoted under the banner of preserving our history and founding principles of freedom, and many well-meaning people have been misled into believing it will do just that. Instead, just as in Alexander?s 2004 legislation to set up federal history and civics "academies," S 860 will undermine the teaching of our founding principles and extend the CCE?s already substantial power over what schools must teach.
Ted Kennedy (D-MA) is co-sponsoring Alexander's bill. Does anyone believe that Ted Kennedy is an ally in defending the teaching of America's founding principles?
The Center for Civic Education
The CCE is the special interest group (or NGO) that produces and sells the left-leaning curriculum We The People: The Citizen and the Constitution which redefines and undermines America?s founding principles of freedom. (See EdWatch?s Textbook Review of We The People.) For example, in the CCE curriculum the principles of inalienable rights, self-evident truth, natural law, national sovereignty, the 2nd amendment, and the 10th amendment are either missing, minimized, or redefined.
Lamar Alexander and Ted Kennedy's S 860 would expand the role of the CCE and federal bureaucrats over school curriculum by mandating that states administer the federal test (National Assessment of Educational Progress - NAEP) in civics and U.S. history, beginning with ten selected states. At the NAEP?s inception by Congress in 1969, however, state participation in the NAEP was sold to lawmakers on the basis of being voluntary. In 2002 federal law under No Child Left Behind for the first time mandated that all states administer the math, reading, and science NAEP. The Alexander bill would now extend the de facto federal curriculum to civics and U.S. history.
Will the U.S. History and Civics NAEP encourage our schools to teach "the liberties and rights of the oldest living constitution in the world," as Nat Hentoff hopes (Washington Times, August 29, 2005)? Or does the federal curriculum rather redefine our basic principles?
A little known but highly relevant fact is that the NAEP?s Civics Framework was also conveniently written by the CCE, specifically by CCE Associate Director Margaret Branson, under contract with federal agencies. Here we have a special interest group the CCE with the non-competitive federal contract authorized and funded first to write Congressionally un-reviewed federal civics standards, then to write and distribute a curriculum (We The People) based on those standards, and then to write federal assessments of those standards (the NAEP).
The nature of the CCE?s civics curriculum can be seen in the CCE?s publication, ?Teaching Democracy Globally, Internationally, and Comparatively: The 21st Century Civic Mission of School,? which states that the most important goal of civic education is to teach democracy globally and internationally. Education for democracy in a sovereign state, such as the United States, says the CCE, is a thing of the past that involved ?mind-numbing inculcation of uncontested political loyalty to the state and society.?
In addition, the CCE defines its civics education as teaching ?globally accepted and internationally transcendent principles.? (pp. 1-2) Is the U.S. Bill of Rights ?globally accepted?? Ask Fidel Castro if he supports our Bill of Rights. He does, however, agree with the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. At least the CCE is consistent when its We the People curriculum promotes the UN Declaration of Human Rights over the U.S. Bill of Rights. (For more on the CCE and WTP, see the classic book FedEd : The New Federal Curriculum and How It's Enforced, and the Textbook Review of We The People.)
In 2004 Alexander's "Federal Academies" were authorized and funded by Congress to teach the brightest students in the country about civics and U.S. history. How can we possibly believe that students will be taught anything other than the controversial CCE national standards and curriculum that the NAEP tests? This new legislation (S 860) would now require states to administer the CCE-written NAEP test to assess students' progress toward that globalist curriculum.
What is tested will be taught. Since the NAEP defines success in the public eye, and since the NAEP is used by the federal government as a check on what the states test, schools will understandably teach to the NAEP test. As senior editor of The American School Board Journal, Kevin Bushweller ("Teaching to the Test") noted, "Increasingly, schools are finding it just makes sense to align curriculum and assessment."
Who is Lamar Alexander?
Lamar Alexander has been an early advocate of the federal takeover of education. As President Bush, Sr.'s Secretary of Education, Alexander directed "America 2000," the precursor to the 1994 Goals 2000. In spite of Goals 2000 being supposedly "sunsetted" in 2002 (in name only, in most respects), Alexander's new legislation follows its road map establishing federal oversight over school curriculum in every major area of study: English, math, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography. [Goals 2000: Title I, Section 102]. In S 860, Alexander and Kennedy would expand the federal oversight to the CCE?s civics and history.
In a 1991 U.S. Department of Education publication, "America 2000: An Education Strategy,? Education Secretary Alexander stated, "Substantial, even radical changes, will have to be made." The words "radical" or "revolution" were used approvingly nine times in that short publication. The CCE?s approach to civics is radical. Forcing states to administer the CCE test to measure ?progress? essentially forces this radically anti-American curriculum on all the states.
Julie M. Quist
EdWatch Board of Directors
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Chaska, MN 55318
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