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By Rick Manning, Vice President of Public Policy & Communications for Americans for Limited Government.
The arrest of a parent attempting to ask questions of his elected school board members regarding the controversial Common Core curriculum — uniform curriculum across state lines that many believe dumbs down the U.S. education system and is being implemented in virtually every state in the nation — did more to educate people about this change than all the white papers that could have ever been written.
Subsequently, the Baltimore County, Maryland State Attorney chose not to prosecute the parent, but also defended the off duty police officer who arrested him as having done nothing wrong.
The questions that are being asked are how did we get to the point where parents who are interested in their children’s education are arrested, and when did the federal government decide to take the place of local and state school decision makers?
Petitioning our government is a fundamental freedom in America, yet Robert Smalls learned that in Maryland you can only petition the government by asking the questions that they want to answer, and you better submit them in writing and sit quietly hoping that yours is chosen.
After listening to a long presentation followed by hand-picked questions, Smalls stood up and attempted to ask something much meatier, and found himself in cuffs and off to jail.
Most surprisingly, the crowd reacted by memorializing the event on their cell phones with only a few verbalized objections.
And perhaps that is the answer to how this could happen here. The people let it happen.
The question of how the federal government, which is funding states which implement Common Core, got so heavily involved in what used to be local elected school board prerogatives in conjunction with parents, you can pull a line out of Obama’s speeches and blame it on Bush.
Republican rhetoric surrounding the federalization of education policy starkly changed from a demand to eliminate the Department of Education to ensuring the “No Child was Left Behind” when President George W. Bush took office.
His signature initiative passed with the support and direction of Senator Edward Kennedy, who played a heavy role in creating the law. The change of direction from wanting to rid the federal government of a primary role in education to setting national testing standards and forcing local schools to meet them was a cataclysmic shift away from the traditional position of the Republican Party on the issue.
As localities complained about the well-intentioned “No Child Left Behind” law, it wasn’t a Democrat president shoving it down their throats, it was a “limited government, local control” Republican.
Naturally, when the Obama Administration was presented with the opportunity to “fix” the Bush/Kennedy law by providing funds for the implementation of the new Common Core curriculum, they took it, under the guise of the catchy “race to the top” slogan.
Incredibly, the “race to the top” has been criticized as nothing less than planned mediocrity, as math standards are lessened to make it difficult for the average high achieving high schooler to take Calculus, and English language standards have been turned on their head.
Common Core became possible the moment Republicans abandoned the principle of locally determined education standards, which is an important lesson to remember as we watch today’s Congress grapple with Obamacare funding.
Those Republicans who urge that the decision be delayed today will be proposing “fixes” to the law tomorrow.
Once Republicans accept the underlying premise that the federal government has any business implementing Obamacare at all, the party of limited government transforms into the party of “trust us, we can make this work” and Democrats move on to start agitating for a single payer Canadian style system.
And it is these type of compromises that have gotten us where we are today.