Freedom First Society

Issue: S. 1177 Every Child Achieves Act of 2015. An original bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to ensure that every child achieves. Short Title as Enacted: Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Question: On Agreeing to the Conference Report.

Result: Agreed to in Senate, 85 to 12, 3 not voting. (See also House Roll Call 665, 12-2-15.) Became Public Law 114-95 (signed by the President 12-10-2015). GOP and Democrats scored.

Freedom First Society: Champions of the “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA) deceptively promoted it as a change in direction in federal control over elementary and secondary education. In particular, they falsely hyped ESSA as returning a large measure of policy control over education to the states. In reality, ESSA cemented such control in federal hands.

During an interview with Politico, retiring Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, was asked: “How do you respond to the notion that you’ve had your wings clipped on your way out the door?”

Amazingly, Duncan boasted:  “… candidly, our lawyers are much smarter than many of the folks [in Congress] who were working on this bill. There are some face-saving things you give up, some talking points that you give up, which we always do because we’re focused on substance. And we have every ability to implement. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.”

We have assigned (good vote) to the Nays and (bad vote) to the Yeas. (P = voted present; ? = not voting; blank = not listed on roll call.)

Analysis: The betrayal in ESSA could have been foreseen by anyone familiar with the forces promoting federal control of education and their real “not open for public discussion” objective.

That objective is the same as that of the international socialists who hired Karl Marx to write the Communist Manifesto more than a century and a half ago — to achieve dominating control of the people. One important step on that path was for government to control the indoctrination of our youth.

While the Communist Manifesto called for “free education for all in [government] public schools,” socialists in America early recognized that to transform society they needed to control the teachers and the curriculum. They saw nationalizing education as an essential means to that control.

The socialists and their Establishment sponsors also realized that this revolution in control would have to be accomplished incrementally, using deceptive pretexts, such as how best to ensure a “quality education for all.” Masters of Deception summarizes much of their progress (see Chapter 12 “Organized Subversion at Home” and particularly Chapter 13 “Mobilizing the Attack Forces”).

As we wrote in our April 2009 Action Report: “The federal funding spigot for education first opened in 1958 with ‘the National Defense Education Act.’   The ‘crisis’ that drove through this revolution was the Soviet launch of Sputnik the year before…. Congressman Noah Mason of Illinois warned of the consequences at the time:

‘Federal Aid for Education is not a temporary program to meet an immediate emergency. It is an effort to put our whole educational system under Federal control and to keep it there forever.’”

Implementing ESSA

During the March 14, 2016 Senate debates over President Obama’s nomination of John B. King to replace Arne Duncan and implement the new law, one of ESSA’s opponents, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) was given time to speak:

         One of the most serious flaws of the ESSA, and one of the primary reasons I voted against the bill, is that it reinforces the same K-12 model that has trapped so many kids in failing schools and confined America’s education system to a state of mediocrity for half a century. This is a model that concentrates authority over education decisions in the hands of Federal politicians and bureaucrats instead of parents, teachers, principals, and local school boards….

         The ESSA purports to reduce the Federal Government’s control over America’s classrooms by returning decision making authority to parents, educators, and local officials. For instance, there are several provisions that prohibit the Secretary of Education from controlling State education plans or coercing States into adopting Federal standards and testing regimes, but when you look at the fine print, you see that in most cases these prohibitions against Federal overreach contain no enforcement mechanisms ‑— only vague, aspirational statements encouraging the Secretary to limit his own powers.

         Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chairman of the Senate Education Committee and sponsor of the bill, responded to Senator Lee. His response demonstrates how Americans are regularly kept in the dark as to revolutionary forces and agendas driving our decline:

The reason we are voting today is because we need a U.S. Education Secretary confirmed by and accountable to the U.S. Senate so that the law to fix No Child Left Behind will be implemented the way Congress wrote it….

That law was passed with broad bipartisan support. It passed the U.S. Senate by a vote of 85 to 12. It passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 359 to 64.

We achieved that result because, as Newsweek said, No Child Left Behind was a law everybody wanted fixed and fixing it was long overdue. Governors, teachers, superintendents, parents, Republicans, Democrats, and students all wanted No Child Left Behind fixed….

This new law is a dramatic change in direction for Federal education policy. In short, it reverses the trend toward what had become a national school board and restores to those closest to children the responsibility for their well-being and academic success.

The Wall Street Journal called the new Every Student Succeeds Act ”the largest devolution of federal control of schools from Washington back to the states in a quarter of a century.”…

The Senate Education Committee, which I chair … will hold at least six hearings to oversee implementation of the new law. All of those hearings will be bipartisan, as our hearings almost always are.

We already held the first hearing on February 23 with representatives of many of the groups who worked together to pass the law, and now they are working together to implement the law. They already formed a coalition made up of the National Governors Association, the School Superintendents Association, the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Association of State Boards of Education, the National School Boards Association, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Parent Teacher Association, with the support of the Chief State School Officers.

         At first glance, Senator Alexander cites impressive diverse support for ESSA. But on closer examination, that diversity falls apart. Bipartisan support generally just means that the leadership of both parties have combined to implement an Establishment program. Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal are both Establishment media sources.

And the mentioned coalition includes groups at the forefront of the drive to nationalize education (such as the National Education Association) and many official-sounding private foundations created to guide, propagandize, and then represent government officials in support of the Establishment agenda. (See, for example, the video “Getting to the Core of Common Core” on YouTube.)

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