The Public/Private Takeover of Education

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos at AEI Conference on 1/16/18.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos at AEI Conference on 1/16/18.

The proposed merger of U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Labor will hurt our kids, and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wants parents to concede to the public/private takeover in education. Unfortunately, we are well on our way. Facts are facts, and regardless of what state you live in, initiatives for Public/Private takeover are common and homogenized for all states.  Let’s take my state of Minnesota for example.   

Standardized testing requirements and opt-out:  In May of 2017, the Minnesota Business Partnership pressured our Minnesota Senators to financially incentivize school districts, so that schools would earn more money when students tested at a higher percentage beyond the Federal 95% participation requirement.  During the hearing, it was postulated that Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA’s)/Pearson participation would soar to near 100% as others noted the outcome would remove parental voice and rights to opt out their children out of the federal-corporate corruption.   

Additionally, our legislature gave away the parental authority of writing a parental opt-out letter to the MDE, who was tasked with writing a “Commissioner’s Opt-Out Letter.”  Thanks to early ESSA documents Minnesota jumped into line with labeling opt-out kids as “non-proficient”.

Ultimately that changed, but only after intense testimony and parents taking a stand.  Later, it was discovered the MDE didn’t update their commissioner opt-out form so that schools and parents could understand the new law, creating mixed messages for parents and the public on the latest MDE changes.  

Local control has taken on an entirely new meaning, as reports came in that school boards bullied parents into believing they had no right to opt their child out of standardized testing without themselves going through a senseless barrage of red tape paperwork.  

Data collection:  In Minnesota, our state statute governing education and technology dates back to 1980, with relatively few updates since according to Minnesota legislator Eric Lucero who chief authored several data protection bills.  Yet, even after five years of pounding the pavement at the grassroots level, legislators can’t seem to get a bill passed due to the collusion of businesses and big industry involvement in our education system as seen this past legislative session.  

That’s not to say businesses and business leaders are “bad.”  That’s not to say that learning a trade is “bad.”  What is in serious question is the level of comingling of both government and business affairs in education as young as preschool, hence the further invasion of unethical data collection on children as young as three.  Why?  So they can cram a child into yet another cookie cutter mold to fit a corporate model.  How’s that for innovation?

World’s Best Workforce:  This is our own Minnesota duplicate of Federal education laws:  Goals 2000, School-to-Work, No Child Left Behind and lastly, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and business organizations and foundations (aka Chamber of Commerce) which was pushed on our schools which before it was fashionable to the degree we see today.   

U.S. Congress:  One of the saddest moments in education regarding the recent, and incredible, “happy bi-partisanship” under the Obama administration was through the passage of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  Not only did Congress codify Common Core in ESSA, but this version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) allowed furthering the highly controversial and manipulative Social Emotional Learning (SEL).  SEL is nothing more than glorified psychological profiling, making teacher’s unlicensed social psychologists when they actually should be teaching, as well as replacing logic with emotion when approaching subjects and problem-solving.  

FEPA, FERPA, and SELDS:  Did you ever in your life wonder how our government can keep up with their own acronym creations?  We have legislators running education roundtables that don’t even know what ESSA means, nor its implications regarding both family and education data privacy.  President Trump did sign new guidance guidelines for state education agencies and school districts on their responsibility to protect student privacy when facilitating college-admissions tests such as SAT and ACT.  However, this has still left grassroots education leaders fed up with years such a disorganized top-down government agenda in education.  

Here’s a hint:  Please stop trying to reinvent the wheel with more initiatives.  While encouraging on the surface, there is still very far to go, being that our state has signed onto nearly every Federal Education initiative available (just follow the money).   We have not yet heard anything on how FERPA will be given back to the parents, rather than a school entity and global industry who is controlling where a child’s data goes and who it gets sold to.  President Trump’s campaign promise was to dismantle the Federal Department of Education and get rid of Common Core, not merge more departments and create an even bigger form of government in education.  

All this being said – and this is so small in comparison to the larger issues at hand – I have seen nothing concrete on the dismantling of Fed Ed and how that will be handled, only that there is a proposed merger between the two departments.  Frankly, this tells me nothing as a parent, a concerned citizen and active grassroots participant.  

I will end my comment here with a quote I told our Minnesota Education Chair last summer upon testifying before committee: “Madam Chair, with respect, it’s about Liberty.” I believe Ms. DeVos needs to hear just that. Fed Ed doesn’t need reorganizing – it needs dismantling and dismantling should NOT include a merger with the Department of Labor.

What we need is a REPEAL of the workforce law in our education system, pull back the latest version of ESEA, then dramatically reduce the reach of the USDED.  Sprinkle in FERPA reform and we may just have a chance at dismantling a system that has broken local control and parental voice.

4 thoughts on “The Public/Private Takeover of Education

  1. Nothing can be accomplished until ESSA is repealed. I believe the entire ESEA law should be repealed. The main purpose of ESEA was to fund reading programs for the poor. It has morphed from a 32 page bill to a bill that is now over 1,000 pages long. I believe the real purpose of ESEA has been so distorted that the entire thing needs to be repealed.

  2. Anne, Karen, Denis/Michelle – You have all three NAILED it. I am in Michigan and it is almost exactly the same here.

  3. Keep it simple: abolish the Federal Department of Education and return control of education to parents and local communities. If we all band together and make this the goal we can win. Otherwise we will be engaged in a whack-mole-contest until there is no United States of America.

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