Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is asking his colleagues to co-sign a letter asking the Senate Appropriations Committee that funds education to cut off all future funds that would allow the Obama administration to “cajole state’s” into participating in the Common Core State Standards and it’s assessments. This comes on the heels of the Republican National Committee voting in favor of a resolution critical of the Common Core State Standards.
His office in an email sent late this afternoon document the steps the Obama administration has taken to push states to adopt the Common Core.
- Making adoption of Common Core a pre-requisite for a state even being able to compete for Race to the Top funds.
- Directly funding the two assessment consortia developing tests aligned to Common Core using Race to the Top funds.
- Assembling a panel to review the work of the two assessment consortia.
- Making implementation of Common Core or coordination with Common Core a funding priority for other, unrelated competitive grants administered by the Department of Education.
- Making participation in Common Core essentially a prerequisite for being awarded a waiver from the Department of requirements in the No Child Left Behind Act.
The email said, “This means no more Race to the Top funds in support of Common Core or the assessments aligned with Common Core and stopping further federal review of the assessments produced by the two consortiums. It also means that the Department could not penalize a state that chooses to leave Common Core by revoking its NCLB waiver. The deadline for senators to sign on this letter is April 25 so it can reach the subcommittee in time to be considered. “
The text of the letter is below:
The Honorable Tom Harkin The Honorable Jerry Moran
Chairman, Subcommittee on Labor, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Labor
Health and Human Services, and Education Health and Human Services, and Education
Senate Appropriations Committee Senate Appropriations Committee
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.
Update:Here is a copy of the letter that you can download: