Federal Educa-shun: Common Core's Growing Resistance
The cheerleaders of Common Core didn't do themselves any favors during last Friday's education roundtable at the far-Left Center for American Progress (CAP). The event, which was supposed to help drum up support for the President's hugely controversial classrooms standards, only gave Americans greater cause for concern. Unfortunately for the White House, the wheels were already coming off its push to centralize more education power in Washington -- and away from local schools and parents.
Last week, Massachusetts Education Secretary Paul Reville only confirmed families' fears that Common Core is just another way for the Left to seize control of the classroom and use it as yet another laboratory of social indoctrination. Reville, who shrugged off the opposition as "a tiny minority," raised plenty of eyebrows with his it-takes-a-village approach to Common Core. "Why should some towns and cities and states have no standards or low standards and others have extremely high standards when the children belong to all of us?"
As if parents weren't angry enough, now liberals are equating their kids to government property! (If children belong to all of us, I wish I'd known that when I was changing diapers!) Unfortunately, this is just the logical progression of extreme liberal thinking. Everything -- and everyone -- belongs to the government to use or control how it sees fit. But if that was supposed to be a persuasive argument for nationalizing education standards -- the government's supposed ownership rights over our sons and daughters -- then Common Core is in more trouble than we gave it credit for.
Already, the White House is dealing with a firestorm of criticism -- even from its loyalist allies. There was a collective gasp a few weeks ago when one of the country's largest teachers unions pulled its support from the policy. To the shock of everyone, the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) -- representing 600,000 current and retired school teachers -- blasted the concept and voted unanimously to pull its endorsement from Common Core. "We'll have to be the first to say it's failed," said Richard Iannuzzi, President of NYSUT. "[O]ur members don't see this going down a path that improves teaching and learning. We're struggling with how to deal with it."
And they aren't the only ones. States from coast-to-coast are hearing from angry parents who want officials to reconsider their involvement in a program that hasn't been thoroughly tested or researched. George Will, who recently wrote a scathing column on Common Core, knows that the President's pet project "will take a toll on parental empowerment, and none of this will escape the politicization of learning like that already rampant in higher education." Even if Americans could trust the federal government with education (a big "if" considering its inability to deliver a simple health care website), any nationalized standards will "extinguish federalism's creativity," Will points out. The withdrawal of key proponents -- like New York teachers, who may have helped reassure parents -- only adds fuel to the fire.
That bonfire blazed even brighter today with the introduction of Senator Lindsey Graham's (R-S.C.) resolution. In it, the South Carolina Republican takes Common Core to task. "National standards," it reads, "lead to national assessments -- and national assessments lead to national curriculum." The President knew this when he started pushing states toward the standards using federal money as incentive. Like us, Sen. Graham objects to the administration buying off governors with $4 billion in "Race to the Top" funds, which Washington is dangling in front of states to entice them to approve the standards. As part of his draft, Sen. Graham calls on Congress to: put state and local officials in charge of education; stop the government from financially bribing states to adopt Common Core; and making federal education grants contingent on a state's Common Core status.
"We don't ever want to educate South Carolina children like they educate California children," South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said recently. Education is an important job -- one the federal government has never proven itself qualified for.
Marriage: The Common Cause of the Commonwealth
People on both sides of the marriage debate have had their hands full with a flurry of cases filed in states across the country. Virginia's lawsuit, which made headlines when its attorney general refused to defend the state's constitution, is stealing the spotlight this week. Today, a federal court heard the first arguments in a bid to strike down the Commonwealth's amendment on man-woman marriage. FRC Action's Josh Duggar was on the ground in Norfolk this morning, speaking at the "Stand Up for Marriage Rally" with allies like Concerned Women for America and the Virginia Family Foundation. With crowds on hand, Josh explained the importance -- not just of marriage, but of honoring the democratic process.
That process is exactly what state Delegate Todd Gilbert is fighting to preserve in a new bill that would give the state legislature a right to hire its own attorney to defend the Virginia Constitution if the attorney general won't. With an overwhelming majority, 65-32, the House did its part to protect the amendment that 57% of the state passed in 2006. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration. To hear what Josh and others had to say in defense of marriage and the Virginia Constitution, check out the video below.
The O'Riling Factor: Fox Host Asks the Tough Questions
If last night's viewers were expecting a friendly tone to part two of the Bill O'Reilly-President Obama showdown, they got anything but. Tensions were just as high in the conclusion of the annual Super Bowl tradition between the Fox host and the commander-in-chief. In the second installment, O'Reilly tackled some touchy issues like the President's despised contraceptive-abortifacient mandate. "Little Sisters of the Poor," Bill said, referring to the Catholic nuns who just won a temporary reprieve from the ObamaCare mandate in the U.S. Supreme Court, "give them what they want." President Obama insisted that the Little Sisters don't want to sign a form explaining they're a religious institution "because they think that that somehow, uh, uh, makes them complicit." And by complicit, the President means that they would still be participating in a form of health care coverage like birth control or "emergency contraception" that violates their faith. Although the duo didn't stay on the subject long, it was clear the President was uncomfortable talking about one of the most unpopular -- and indefensible -- parts of his health care law.
Sticking with the social issues theme, O'Reilly, to his credit, pushed the President on his seeming indifference toward the family breakdown in America -- specifically, the breakdown of families in the African-American community. "We address it explicitly all the time," the President fired back. "I'll send you at least 10 speeches I've made since I've been President talking about the importance of men taking responsibility for their children. Talking about the importance of, uh, young people, uh, delaying gratification. Talking about the importance of, uh, when it comes to child rearing, paying child support, spending time with your kids, reading with them. So, whether it's getting publicity or not is a whole different question."
As for out-of-wedlock births, O'Reilly continued, "Would you say it's been a hallmark of your administration to make that issue, because I don't believe it has." "Yes," the President replied. "But I don't see the pressure from the Federal government to go in and say, this is wrong, this is -- this is killing, um, futures of babies and children." Kudos to Bill for exposing one of the biggest weaknesses of this administration -- and highlighting a growing problem in America in the process. Of all the criticisms people have of this President, his commitment to his own family is not one of them. It only makes sense that he would translate the personal importance he places on marriage and parenthood to the nation. It's a shame, thus far, that he hasn't.
** The written testimony of FRC's Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin from last week's House Armed Services hearing continues to catch the media's attention. Check out CNSNews.com's take in "Gen. Boykin to Congress: Religious Liberty Must Be Affirmed, Cherished in Military."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.