Action Items in House and Senate on Common Core

In the Senate

Caffeinated Thoughts broke the news last night that our own Senator Chuck Grassley is working to stop the future funding of the Common Core State Standards, the Common Core Assessments and the federal review panel for the assessments.  He is sending a letter to the Senate Appropriations  Committee for education.  Which happens to be chaired by our outgoing Senator Tom Harkin.  Here is the text of the letter:

Dear Chairman Harkin and Ranking Member Moran:

We ask that the Fiscal Year 2014 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill include language to restore state decision-making and accountability with respect to state academic content standards. The decision about what students should be taught and when it should be taught has enormous consequences for our children. Therefore, parents ought to have a straight line of accountability to those who are making such decisions. State legislatures, which are directly accountable to the citizens of their states, are the appropriate place for those decisions to be made, free from any pressure from the U.S. Department of Education.

While the Common Core State Standards Initiative was initially billed as a voluntary effort between states, federal incentives have clouded the picture. Current federal law makes clear that the U.S. Department of Education may not be involved in setting specific content standards or determining the content of state assessments. Nevertheless, the selection criteria designed by the U.S. Department of Education for the Race to the Top Program provided that for a state to have any chance to compete for funding, it must commit to adopting a “common set of K-12 standards” matching the description of the Common Core. The U.S. Department of Education also made adoption of “college- and career-ready standards” meeting the description of the Common Core a condition to receive a state waiver under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Race to the Top funds were also used to fund two consortiums to develop assessments aligned to the Common Core and the Department is now in the process of evaluating these assessments.

We ask that you eliminate further interference by the U.S. Department of Education with respect to state decisions on academic content standards by including the following language in the Fiscal Year 2014 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill:

Sec. __. (a) Funds appropriated under this Act or any prior Act shall not be used by the Secretary of Education—

(1) to directly develop, implement, or evaluate multi-State or other specified standards (defined in this section as any set of academic content standards common to multiple States, including the Common Core State Standards developed by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers, or any other specified set or type of academic content standards selected by the Secretary) or assessments aligned with such standards;

(2) to award any grant, contract, or cooperative agreement that requires or specifically authorizes the development, implementation, or evaluation of multi-State or other specified standards, or assessments aligned with such standards;

(3) to condition any award of funds to a State on the adoption of multi-State or other specified standards, or to include, as a component of an application for Federal funds, a requirement or preference related to multi-State or other specified standards; or

(4) to enforce any provision of a waiver issued by such Secretary under section 9401 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7861) related to the adoption of multi-State or other specified standards.

(b) Nothing in subsection (a) shall be construed to limit the discretion of an individual State to use funds provided through a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement for any uses that are authorized under the grant, contract, or cooperative agreement, if the State so chooses.

Thank you for your consideration of our request.

Sincerely,

Chuck Grassley

Please contact Senator Grassley’s office to thank him for this effort.  His DC office number is (202) 224-3744.  Please also contact Senator Harkin’s office and ask that he please accept and act on Senator Grassley’s letter.  His DC office number is (202) 224-3254.  If you happen to live outside of Iowa and you want to encourage your Senators to co-sign Senator Grassley’s letter you can find their contact information here.  The deadline for that is April 25th.

In the House

Via Missouri Coalition Against Common Core:

Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) has written, and is gathering co-signers in Washington for, a letter expressing serious concerns with the manner in which the US Department of Education has involved itself with Common Core standards. The letter also notes the highly irregular process used to change the Congressional FERPA allowing the sharing of individual student records. The letter was written with the oversight of the House Education & Workforce Committee and already has interest from Republican representatives in UT, IN, KS, MN, MI and even a Democrat in IL.

Here is the letter:

Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer’s Letter to U.S Education Secretary Arne Duncan

He is looking for co-signers.  Please contact your member of Congress.  For Iowa:

  • Congressman Bruce Braley – Iowa 1st  – (202) 225-2911
  • Congressman Dave Loebscak – Iowa 2nd  – (202) 225-6576
  • Congressman Tom Latham – Iowa 3rd – (202) 225-5476
  • Congressman Steve King – Iowa 4th – (202) 225-4426

If you live in another state you can find your Representative’s contact information here.  We also need to encourage our member of Congress to work to strip any Common Core funding with upcoming House appropriations bills.

About Shane Vander Hart

Shane Vander Hart founded Iowans for Local Control in 2012 which later merged with Iowa RestorEd. Shane also is the founder and editor-in-chief of Caffeinated Thoughts and the founder and president of 4:15 Communications, LLC, a social media & communications consulting/management firm.  You can connect with Shane on Facebook or follow him on Twitter and Google +.

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