SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The Obama administration has placed the nation on the road to a national curriculum, according to a new report written by a former general counsel and former deputy general counsel of the United States Department of Education.
The Road to a National Curriculum: The Legal Aspects of the Common Core Standards, Race to the Top, and Conditional Waivers is sponsored by the Pioneer Institute, the Pacific Research Institute, the Federalist Society and the American Principles Project.
“The findings of this PRI co-sponsored report validate our concern that the federal government is intruding into areas that are rightly reserved for states and local school districts, where parents can have greatest influence over their children’s education,” said Lance Izumi, Koret Senior Fellow, director of Education Studies at PRI, and author of the book “Obama’s Education Takeover.”
Robert S. Eitel, who co-authored the report with Kent D. Talbert, stated that the U.S. Department of Education under President Obama “has designed a system of discretionary grants and conditional waivers that effectively herds states into accepting specific standards and assessments favored by the Department.”
Despite three federal laws that prohibit federal departments or agencies from directing, supervising or controlling elementary and secondary school curricula, the authors find that the Obama administration has used the Race to the Top Fund and the Race to the Top Assessment Program to push states to adopt standards and assessments that are substantially the same across nearly all states.
The authors also explore how the Department’s No Child Left Behind conditional waiver program is driving the states toward a national K-12 curriculum and course content. To obtain a waiver from the Department, each state must declare whether it has “adopted college- and career-ready standards” in reading/language arts and mathematics “that are common to a significant number of States.” States seeking waivers must also declare whether they are participating “in one of two State consortia that received a grant under the Race to the Top competition.” The Common Core national standards and the assessments consortia funded by the Department are effectively the only ones that fit these descriptions.
Several recommendations are proposed by both Eitel and Talbert, including the enactment of legislation clarifying that the Department cannot impose conditions under its waiver authority, as well as congressional hearings on Race to the Top and waivers to ascertain the Department’s compliance with federal law.