Mission Almost Accomplished, Arne DuncanMission Almost Accomplished, Arne DuncanDec. 22, Updated: Deadline for public comment exended to JANUARY 4, 2016: If you missed the deadline for telling the government what you think about government-run "family engagement" (in the post below), you still have time.  The deadline has been extended to Jan. 4. Comments on the Draft Family Engagement Statement should be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  To read the draft and for more details please go here.  Thanks to Mary Byrne, Ed.D., Missouri Coalition Against Common Core, for the heads-up.  She adds that she and others are getting bouncebacks when they use non-Microsoft e-mail accounts:"only those [comments] processed through Microsoft are received by the government." Of course, Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates has pretty much bankrolled Common Core.  Byrne set up an Outlook account to bypass the problem.  REMEMBER: JAN.4.

Posted on Dec. 18, 2015, by Mary Grabar: The "Every Child Succeeds Act," signed into law on December 10, gave all the usual suspects in big government, teachers unions, multinational textbook companies, social justice warriors, and busybody non-profits wanting a piece of the universal preschool funding pie cause for celebration. Today, the Department of Education sent out a notice about taking "First Steps in Transition to New Law." The "Dear Colleague" letter embedded there is enough to chill the heart of anyone but the most dedicated bureaucrat.  But if you dare, there is an invitation at the end of the announcement atbout two hearings in January on the ESSA law.

Outgoing Education Secretary Arne Duncan, expressed his pleasure at getting ESSA passed, but told POLITICO that his biggest regret was the lack of political action on gun violence (citing Sandy Hook). He promised that gun control would be something that he would "work on" in his as yet undisclosed future work. 

In its passage, ESSA had all the transparency of the Affordable Care Act and Common Core, as I described in my article at the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research, "Common Core by a New Name, and On Steroids." At the Federalist John Holland offers a great analysis of how many Republicans squandered their power on this.  And Mercedes Schneider does a wonderful job of exposing the backroom shenanigans in her book Common Core Dilemma, which I reviewed. She, however, asked that I print a clarification of one of her points, which I do here:


My issue with the Coleman report language is that it presumes that preparing students of color to function in white society will automatically lead to opportunities for social mobility in that same, white-dominated society.  My point is that preparing students of color academically
for mainstream society is not enough if society has controls (both overt and covert) in place to oppress those students, including the harmful perception that being educated is somehow a betrayal of loyalty to one's own ethnic group. Thus, my concern centers on an opportunity gap, not an achievement gap.

Dr. Schneider is a top-notch researcher, and by all accounts a wonderful teacher.  She points out the dangers of corporate control.

But I see that corporate control being fueled by the growth of government.  The mega data-mining and curriculum corporations have the access to government centers of power that small companies and citizens do not. This includes a National Education Week event that brings together "Entrepreneurs, Investors, Educators, Opinion and Policy Makers." It was held at New York University this week and was supported by the New York public television station. It was presented by education technology startup company, EDGE: "We build companies that are transforming education."  The Dissident Prof is sorry she had to miss it, especially the presentations by a dean at NYU, the chancellor of New York City schools, and executives from McGraw Hill and Pearson.  I also wonder what it takes to be a "media participant."  Perhaps I should ask this year's media participants, Scholastic, Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, and NPR.

There is always next year! (Tax-deductible contributions for the Dissident Prof travel fund are most welcome!)  I will try to get the early bird price; this year it was $705.  

Lest the little people feel that they are being left out of education decisions, we have "parental engagement." It was written into President Johnson's Education Act in 1965 to assure all that in spite of all the new federal regulations, parents would have a say-so in the education their children received.  I observed in Georgia last year how that works! 

But you can get involved!  The Obama administration is extending its deadline on a Draft Statement on Family Engagement. But hurry!  The deadline is December 21.  Don't let Christmas shopping distract you. Go here to see how to comment.

Family EngagementFamily EngagementSome suggestions so far of the draft follow below:

Round-the-Clock Availability: Suggestions that facility space should be available at different times of the day and on weekends for gatherings of specific groups, such as fathers or young parents. 

Parent Training: "Parent Training Information Centers and familty-to-family health information centers." 

Professionals: "Professionals should encourage families to engage with their children in their home language through enriching activities that draw on their culture and traditions" (page 12).

Home Visits: "To support ongoing relationship building with families, programs and schools should conduct periodic home visits so that teachers and families can get to know each other and communicate about children's goals, strengths, challenges, and progress" (page 13).

Mental Health Consultants: For family support.

Data Tracking: Page 14: "Tracking Family Engagement Data" ("the effects of family engagement activities on children's development, learning and wellness," "a valid and reliable assessment of the teacher/provider-family relationships reported by teacher/providers, families, and leaders.") 

Read it and weep. You should read it for yourself.     

So far, a number of non-profits, from the traditionally meddling bureaucratic to the radical, have written, naturally offering advice to the feds, as well as tips on how they can "help." 

One parent of a ten-year-old in Florida public schools wrote in.  Michelle Meeks prefaced her responses to the questionnaire by informing the feds that she is an independent politically and that she pays property and income taxes." (They do need to be reminded.): 

I also went to public school as a child in the same school district my daughter now attends. Times have changed, and not for the better. All the parents are treated like they are being disobedient and need to fall in line. Even parents who are eager to help are treated badly.

She replied to the first question, What are the key messages that we should communicate in a federal policy statement on family engagement? with 

Family engagement in the current definition in our government = bossing, dictating, meddling, overstepping and intruding into the family home life of the tax payers/parents and students. . . .There should be NO FEDRAL POLICY regarding locally controlled schools.

As I saw at the parental engagment conference, though, most parents who are "engaged" don't question the program. 

We can expect more of such "engagement," as well as more "community schools." The Coalition for Community Schools loves the ESSA.  "Community schools" are part of Arne Duncan's "vision" as he described it in 2010:

My vision is that schools need to be community centers. Schools need to be open 12, 13, 14 hours a day six, seven days a week, 12 months out of the year, with a whole host of activities, particularly in disadvantaged communities.

That vision includes medical care, optometry, and social workers and counselors "to work through the challenges [students are] facing at home." 

No doubt, parents will certainly be engaged at community schools!


+3 #6 Kathleen Zebzda 2015-12-31 02:18
Improving education, while a noble desire of government (ignoring the implicit desire for control), must remain in the hands of parents and local districts. This is the only way parents can watch for abuses, and insure each child is educated. Corporate control of standards and curriculum can only lead to lowered skills and minimal achievement, as the corporations only look to the bottom line, and cost effective strategies. Government should not desire nor be permitted to decide best practices for raising children, and parents must not allow such an intrusion into family life.
+2 #5 Sarah Jasper 2015-12-30 04:48
This reminds me of communist Russia or Nazi Germany. The state wants control of our children to indoctrinate them. There is no way they will be coming into my home. These are my children not theirs!
+4 #4 Gavin Young Jr 2015-12-23 02:48
As a former parochial (Catholic) school teacher currently working on a M Ed in Curriculum & Instruction in Bible Literacy, and as one who intends to return to the parochial classroom in August 2016, I simply wanted to express my horror at the socialist tide currently sweeping our country and what it means for public education. However, my real concern is for private/parochi al schools. If the socialist agenda "wins" in America, it is only a matter of time before they "come for us". I fear for Catholic, Episcopal, and Lutheran Christian education. I fear for homeschooling parents. How long before they come for you? Try as I might to live my life in the present moment, I can't help but think of the not too distant future and its possible scenarios. I thank the Almighty for "truth tellers" like Mary Grabar. It's tough being a prophet, but somebody has to do it. Finding this site, as well as the SFPPR site has been a Godsend to me. We once had to fight for religious liberty...
+4 #3 Bob Veigel 2015-12-22 22:29
Mind control of its citizens is our governments objective.
+5 #2 Joanne Yurchak 2015-12-21 03:12
Some of this SOUNDS well-meaning, but parents should beware of this at all costs. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize where this is leading. There is NO QUESTION that the State wants to take over the responsibilitie s of parents. Home visits??? What is THAT? Will those visiting be looking into medicine cabinets or searching for guns. This is BIG BROTHER carried to the nth degree and must be stopped. Parents must be allowed to instill their children with values that are acceptable to THEM -- not the "values" of the State. This smacks of North Korea, China and Russia.
+10 #1 Steven Wanager 2015-12-20 03:19
Three words, Socialist Indoctranation Centers

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