Monday, April 05, 2010

More on HSLDA & National Standards

It's not my intention to beat up on HSLDA but reader MRL contacted HSLDA regarding their delay in issuing an e-alert and Common Core State Standards and received an odd response,
Spunky, just talked with HSLDA. They said the reason they sent the e-mail so late was that they didn't know about it until then. They explained to me that they have people who watch state and federal law and this is being proposed through the National Governor's Association (they don't make law) and it was only brought to their attention by a lobbying group. As to not being able to comment, the only thing they said was that it was probably because there were so many people commenting that the site crashed, but they could not verify that. Of course the NEA is behind this and we are going to have to watch our individual state legislatures to make sure it doesn't get passed in our individual states.
Seriously, if the stakes weren't so high I'd laugh at the absurdity of HSLDA admitting that it was brought to their attention by another lobby group. This isn't new and HSLDA shouldn't be relying on another lobby group when so many homeschoolers rely on them for information.

(As an aside, I talked to someone at HSLDA in 2007 about common state standards when I questioned their endorsement of Mike Huckabee for President. I blogged about it here. And in 2006 I was jokingly called a "sucker" by then HSLDA attorney Scott Somerville for talking about the move toward national standards and the expanding role of the federal government. He later admitted I had a legitimate point.)

The move toward national standards hasn't exactly been kept a secret since Obama won the White House either. In March of 2009, in a speech before the National Science Teachers Association Conference Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said national standards benchmarked internationally was the goal of the new Obama administration.

First, we are encouraging states to adopt rigorous standards that are internationally benchmarked. A nation without true career- and college-ready standards is lying to its children. A nation with low academic standards is telling students and parents that our kids are doing well—when, in fact, they are not.

A nation that does not benchmark its standards against the highest international standards is crippling our children in the competition for jobs.

Their "encouragement" came in the form of money through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Race for the Top. Governor's struggling to balance their state budgets .
drooled over the pot of cash and are doing all they can to get the funds.

The fact that the NGA doesn't make law is irrelevant to the push toward national standards. HSLDA doesn't make law either but it would be ridiculous to think we should disregard them and their ideas because they don't write the actual laws.

The NGA is a very influential group that carries a lot of weight on Capital Hill and routinely testifies before Congress on various issues, including Common Core Standards. In December of 2009, Bill Ritter the Governor of Colorado testified the following,before the
U.S. House Education and Labor Committee committee. He said,
"Through the creation of the Race to the Top Fund, Congress and the Administration took the first step in shifting the focus of federal policy from a punitive, mandate-driven compliance system toward a federal-state partnership that supports state-led innovation. For example, the Race to the Top Fund competition provides carrots—not sticks—to voluntary state adoption of common standards."
All this demonstrates to me is that the Governors are now in agreement with the federal government that national standards benchmarked internationally are now the best thing for our country and are willing to work together to make it happen. During his testimony Governor Ritter also talked about opening up comments after the standards were unveiled in early 2010. Was HSLDA watching what was happening in the Congressional committee charged with creating education policy? It appears not otherwise they wouldn't have needed another lobby group telling them about it and would have alerted their membership sooner.

But the issue isn't entirely the lapse in HSLDA alerting its members to the comments section but the wonderment that HSLDA is virtually silent against the push for national standards and the implementation a European style educational system here in America. We know they're watching Europe and their various legislative committees. In regards to Sweden, HSLDA wrote,
"In just one year the climate for homeschooling has changed dramatically."
In a decade or less, we could be writing the same sentence about homeschooling here in America. Michael Donnelly obviously understands how damaging a socialist mindset can be to our freedom to homeschool and wrote, "
It is important that we help Swedish homeschoolers so that the stereotypical view of homeschoolers can be stopped from spreading to other nations—including our own."
If they want to help Sweden that's their business, but if what is going on in Sweden could affect us then certainly what is going on with the National Governors Association is at least equally important to us, isn't it? The socialist mindset of centralized state control of education is already spreading to our nation, yet we hear virtually nothing from HSLDA. They didn't even post anything about it on their Facebook page with over 12,000 fans.

The educational climate in this country has changed it's time we all start paying closer attention. The comments section still appears to be open so go ahead and tell the Governors what you think.

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