Obama Usurps Schools

Well, that did not take long. You voted for him, America, and now he will revise what your children are taught in schools. Suckers.

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/334645/obamacore-white-house-takes-schools-stanley-kurtz

Is it, of course, unconstitutional for the administration to dictate to your local school board the content of curriculum.

President Obama’s bid to control what your children learn in school is surely one of the most important and disturbing of his many transformative plans. Not only is Obama’s attempt to devise what is in effect a national K-12 school curriculum arguably unconstitutional and illegal, the fact that most Americans have no idea that the new “Common Core” (aka Obamacore) even exists may be the most troubling thing about it.

Today’s Washington Post features an article on the controversy being kicked up by the new English curriculum that 46 states and the District of Columbia are just now waking up to. Not coincidentally, this new education war is hitting less than a month after Obama’s re-election, just in time to prevent the public from taking the most effective step it could have to block the changes. You have to get nearly to the end of today’s Post article even to get a hint of the fact that Obama is the real force behind the new curriculum. Following that link takes you to an article that more frankly lays out Obama’s role in commandeering the substance of what’s taught in the nation’s schools. The print version of this September 21, 2012 article featured a more revealing headline than the web version: “Education overhaul largely bypasses Congress.”

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That 45 states and the District of Columbia have signed on to what is in effect becoming a new national curriculum, most of them without even seeing the new standards, is a Constitutional, legal, political, and educational outrage. Obama is most at fault, yet the states (many run by Republicans) also deserve blame for selling their Constitutional birthright for a mess of pottage. I have much more to say about the Common Core here.

George Will on a related topic:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/obamas-disregard-for-those-pesky-things-called-laws/2012/03/08/gIQAHIA61R_story.html

 

14 Comments

  1. Comment by John Hutchins:

    “Not coincidentally, this new education war is hitting less than a month after Obama’s re-election, just in time to prevent the public from taking the most effective step it could have to block the changes. ”

    This. If it is Obama, himself, or some organization of advisers or backers I don’t know but they have played a masterful hand at massaging the public while still getting done their major objectives. At the 2010 midterm Obama was at 45% approval ratings, by the first part of 2011 Obama was at above 50% disapprove and in the low 40’s for approval, all the way through January of 2012. During the election season they held off saying a lot of what they would do in the next term and took a bunch of actions of (very) highly questionable legality in order to both appease their base and appeal to specific voting segments.

    If the Soviet Union still existed the KGB couldn’t have engineered things any better.

  2. Comment by Joseph M (was Ishmael Alighieri):

    The problem is the existence of public schools in the first place. What good is freedom of speech or the right to vote if you’re not free to teach your own children however you’d like, but instead the government gets to teach them whatever it wants?

    Note also that this particular battle was lost right after WWII, when a combination of demographic shifts and 75 years of relentless political maneuvering finally put the one-room schools out of business – one room schools being effective, efficient – and totally under the control of the locals. Kids spent a fraction of the class time in one room schools as did their ‘scientifically’ schooled peers, yet outperformed them even on the standardized tests written by the ‘educators’ – so, clearly, they were preventing Progress and had to go. Today, the last generation that could attest to the efficacy and goodness of local, ‘unscientific’ public education is dead, or has one foot in the grave.

    So, this latest development is just another small step in the march of imposing Prussian education on Americans – because, as Fichte pointed out, a well educated person should be unable to think anything his betters don’t want him to think.

    • Comment by Hestledon:

      What is the source of your comment about Johann Gottlieb Fichte on well-educated people? I really liked it and would like to read more. Thank you!

      • Comment by Joseph M (was Ishmael Alighieri):

        It’s from his Addresses to the German Nation, which were a series of public talks he gave in French-occupied Germany under Napoleon in 1806 – 8. I’ll get the exact quote and details and post them on my blog in the next couple days.

        In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from one of these talks that captures Fichte’s overall flavor pretty well. Read it thinking ‘Nazi’ and it’s pretty scary: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1807fichte1.asp.

        I also must point out that his account of the interactions between the German tribes and Romans is sugar-coated to the point of fantasy – the Frankish tribes that became the Germans were nasty, violent, irrational brutes, who mostly encountered the Romans during their Western collapse, and, with the exception of mimicking some of their military practices, largely rejected Roman civilization until centuries after that civilization had crumbled – they got its shadow (a strong shadow, but still) from the Church, and even then, only comparatively imperfectly. For example, their native deep superstition and traditional violence against each other (even more than most barbarians – and that’s saying something) came roaring back during the witch hunts of the 14th century, the intensity and insanity of which increased the farther north you moved from Rome, reaching its peak in the German countries.

        But I digress.

  3. Ping from Fichte, Part I « Yard Sale of the Mind:

    [...] a comment to this post on the deep-revolving John C Wright’s blog, I promised to dig up more information on Johann  Fichte, a philosopher bridging Kant and Hegel, [...]

  4. Comment by Chris:

    Whether national or state standards are a good idea can certainly be debated, but as a point of correction the Common Core standards were not created by President Obama. They originated as a state-level initiative sponsored by the National Governor’s Association and are aimed at addressing deficiencies in students’ readiness for the rigor of college-work. The draft was released for public comment in 2009 and the first states to sign on did so in 2010, so they aren’t precisely new to this election cycle. Personally, as a teacher I actually like the Common Core better than the standards my state had previously adopted.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      “Whether national or state standards are a good idea can certainly be debated…”

      It would be the shortest debate in history, if conducted by honest men who read the US Constitution. They would read the section where it says in clear English that any powers not written on a numbered list as given to the general government were kept by the states, and then see it is not on the list. Case closed.

      The Left denies the principle of Federalism as it denies any legal principle or moral principles inconsistent with their oddly religious devotion to political utopianism.

      I just got threatened with social services today because my child went to school without taking a shower this morning. So you want me, as a citizen and a taxpayer, to have even LESS control over what my child is taught? Hmmm….

    • Comment by pdrax:

      Thank you for the correction! Most illuminating.

  5. Comment by Base Delta Zero:

    How is this any different from, say, No Child Left Behind? They’re both new performance standards for schools, without any particular reference to curriculum. Though the CCS originated with the states, rather than the President… (it was created by the Council of State School Officers and National Governor’s Association).

    Worst case scenario this is another pathetic grab by some corporation after the honeypot that is standarized testing.

    The problem is the existence of public schools in the first place. What good is freedom of speech or the right to vote if you’re not free to teach your own children however you’d like, but instead the government gets to teach them whatever it wants?

    You are. The homeschooling movement exists for precisely this reason. If you want your children to be ignorant of reality, it seems to work quite well.

    It would be the shortest debate in history, if conducted by honest men who read the US Constitution. They would read the section where it says in clear English that any powers not written on a numbered list as given to the general government were kept by the states, and then see it is not on the list. Case closed.

    That wasn’t the question. It wasn’t ‘is it listed in the Constitution?’ (it isn’t, though, as noted above… twice…, CCS *is* a state initiative – i.e., the guys that power was delegated to?) but ‘is it a good idea?’.

    Yes, this is questioning ‘Federalism’ – or rather, one of the particular powers to be delegated to the Federal government. Our world is a different world than that of 1791. A nation the size of America physically couldn’t be administered by any Federal government back then, now it is feasible… and people’s interests are increasingly broad.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      I am not sure what to make of the ‘If you want your children to be ignorant of reality, it seems to work quite well’ remark. Homeschooled children do better academically than publicly schooled children. A comparison of what children a century ago were expected to do as high school work compared to today is unambiguous. Perhaps I am misreading the thrust of the comment. If you saying public school produce graduates ignorant of reality, there we might agree.

      “That wasn’t the question. It wasn’t ‘is it listed in the Constitution?’ … but ‘is it a good idea?’.

      The political theory that the state may do anything whatsoever it deems to be a good idea is called totalitarianism. If it is a good idea yet the state has no legal power to carry the idea out, its goodness is a moot point, until the good idea finds an institution (an institution other than the government) by which it might lawfully be expressed. Honestly, I had thought this idea to be something common to the background of the discussion being held.

    • Comment by Joseph M (was Ishmael Alighieri):

      My words: “The problem is the existence of public schools in the first place. What good is freedom of speech or the right to vote if you’re not free to teach your own children however you’d like, but instead the government gets to teach them whatever it wants? ”

      Your words: “You are. The homeschooling movement exists for precisely this reason. If you want your children to be ignorant of reality, it seems to work quite well.”

      Fascinating – you believe that your comment here is based in reality? Really? You think homeschooling (which we don’t do, BTW – what we do is far, far, worse) is not harassed and opposed and taxed at every turn? And that homeshoolers (who are hardly an homogeneous lot) still do better than public school kids in every meaningful measure, with a small fraction of the inputs in time and money? Where, pray tell, did you get this information? In the real world, I mean.

      Our family is conducting an evil experiment wherein we let our 5 kids do whatever they want with their day, every day. No classes, no homework. They have to help around the house, do dishes, rake leaves, that sort of thing – but no academics at all. They take no standardized tests. They crack not a single textbook. We – their parents – show absolutely no interest in k-12 academics. At. All.

      Now, what does the standard educational model say is going to happen to such children? Aren’t they doomed to be ignorant failures? Because, as we all know – because we’ve had it beaten into us relentlessly for at least a dozen years – academic success as defined by the professional educators is ESSENTIAL to success. Right?

      So, son number 1 was a straight A student in a Great Books program after having gotten the equivalent of an AA degree in Computer Science from the local community college by the time he was 17; daughter number 1 is a 19 year old junior with a double major in Music and Theater; yesterday, I interrupted son number 2 as he was taking detailed notes on a Khan Academy lecture on genetics – he’s reading Shakespeare in his spare time. Daughter number 2, when she’s not reading or making music with her friends, can bake you a cake that looks like a scene out of a Disney movie (I’m thinking of asking for an Hieronymus Bosch cake for my birthday, to see what she’ll do). The littlest is only 8, so he plays video games.

      Are these kids geniuses? Why yes – but genius is as common as dirt. But what they also are is REAL WORLD evidence that everything you were told in school, and most importantly, everything assumed by the bells, structure, and tests, is a lie. School is about control – the full quote from Fichte, the father of modern schooling and the inspiration of Horace Mann, the father of American compulsory schooling:

      ”Education should aim at destroying free will so that after pupils are thus schooled they will be incapable throughout the rest of their lives of thinking or acting otherwise than as their school masters would have wished.”

      Speaking of reality, since virtually all discussions of schooling assume – contrary to history and mountains of evidence – that compulsory classroom education IS education, there are, effectively, no public discussions about what education IS. Only wackos like homeschoolers and even worse nuts like me ever even bring it up – which fact is the apex of all that Fichte, Mann, Woodrow Wilson and other of our betters have so long sought to achieve.

      These folks HATE Great Books education, BTW – wonder why that is?

  6. Comment by Base Delta Zero:

    Sorry for slow response.

    ‘If you want your children to be ignorant of reality, it seems to work quite well’ remark. Homeschooled children do better academically than publicly schooled children.

    This is true, at least according to test results. However, it’s possible to ‘graduate’ with stuff like A Beka or similar – you have to teach math, reading, and other basics, but it’s quite possible to get a very narrow view.

    In other words, it’s possible to do it well. It’s also possible to do it very very badly.

    To Joseph M, and in general… I don’t have a problem with homeschooling in general, and frankly, I made a rash overstatement… perhaps just too much exposure to its horror stories.

    ‘If you saying public school produce graduates ignorant of reality, there we might agree.’

    Yeah, I’m not going to disagree there. The US public school system is Just Bad.

    The political theory that the state may do anything whatsoever it deems to be a good idea is called totalitarianism. If it is a good idea yet the state has no legal power to carry the idea out, its goodness is a moot point, until the good idea finds an institution (an institution other than the government) by which it might lawfully be expressed.

    Quite apart from the issue of whether school standards are Constitutional, I’ll respond to this.

    I’m not saying the state should do whatever it wants. But the authority of the state flows from the people, not the Constitution – which is, after all, a set of rules created by the appointed representatives of the citizenry. It can be changed. It’s *designed* to be changed. (and I suspect that if people did earnestly take a narrow stance on the raft of creative interpretations of the Commerce Clause et al., there’d be a mad dash to amend them in.)
    I’m not suggesting mob rule, either, we establish rules and procedures for a reason, and you shouldn’t just ignore them when it’s inconvenient. Even (especially) if you’re the one making the rules. On the other hand, it’s kind of nonsensical to speak of government in terms of ‘legality’ – the government is the law – rather than ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ (both in moral and practical terms). I was going to use an example here, but that brings up the main problem… that people don’t always precisely agree on what ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are. But that’s what a republic is for…

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