Thursday, April 24, 2014

Will The Center Hold, April, 2014, Part 1: Common Core Under Fire, Seceding States, and More

After ten days worth of posts looking at various forms of political class insanity, it is time to move on to other topics. For the next several days, we will be taking another look at a question we have posed in previous posts: Given the overreaching, illegal, and un-Constitutional actions of the Federal government and the Washington political class, and the push back from citizens and state governments, will the center hold? Or will the various issues and conflicts eventually result in the breaking apart of the republic and the dissolution of Federal government authority and effectiveness? 

Never before in our history have we been so close to the center of the nation not holding steady and solid. Through wars and depressions and recessions and civil rights movements and other crises, in my opinion we have never been closer to such a splitting of the nation. The fact that we are now closer than ever to such a center implosion speaks volumes of how power hungry, illegal, and incompetent the political class has become. 

The first set of posts on this topic can be accessed starting at: 

1) In one sign of the growing disgust with Washington and this Presidency, news report indicate the Wisconsin Republican Resolutions Committee voted earlier this month to support a proposal establishing a state’s right, “under extreme circumstances, to secede” from the union. The resolution is gaining acceptance among many of the state’s disillusioned residents, many of whom are expected to weigh in on the matter during the state Republican Party convention next month. 

Not all of the state’s Republicans are excited about the idea, including the current state governor, Scott Walker: “I don’t think that one [the resolution] aligns with where most Republican officials are in the state of Wisconsin – certainly not with me.” 

But even if the governor is not interested, there is enough interest and frustration in this state for some of its political actors taking the radical step of thinking and discussing the pros and cons of secession. 

2) Common Core is a Washington effort to put in place a single Federal government curriculum for the nation’s schools. A lot of Americans are against such a domination of local teaching and schools from a faraway Federal government bureaucracy for a number of reasons: 

  • Trying to impose a single teaching and education approach on all Americans will likely never work and will end up dumbing down the education process. 
  • Early results from states and districts using Common Core materials have resulted in disappointing educational results.
  •  Ceding control of local educational processes to a Federal government that has shown the inability to successfully operate any program is not attractive to parents and school districts that prefer to manage their own education processes that are tailored to their local needs. 
As a result of these concerns and others, many states are beginning to opt out of all or some of the Common Core’s components. Recently, South Carolina’s top education administrator announced that South Carolina is pulling out of the Common Core standardized testing group, Smarter Balanced. 

Superintendent of Education Mick Zais sent a letter to state Board of Education members informing them of the move. Zais was sprung to action on this issue as a result of pending legislation in the state legislature that would prevent South Carolina from using the Smarter Balanced tests in schools: “My recommendation was to get ahead of these actions of the General Assembly and show the members of the General Assembly that we believe exploring assessment options is the most prudent course of action for South Carolina.” 

Furthermore, Zais stated in a letter to the state board of education Suth Carolina: “I want to have a high quality assessment that meets the specific needs of South Carolina, at a competitive price. If we continue to focus only on Smarter Balanced, we lose any opportunity to consider alternatives… In consideration of the foregoing, and the discovery that I have the authority to withdraw South Carolina from its status as a governing state of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, and after full consultation with the Governor’s Office and appropriate members of the General Assembly, I am informing you that I am exercising that authority." 

The “most prudent course of action for South Carolina.” In other words, thanks but no thanks to Washington and the Common Core bureaucracy for his state. Just another example of a state treating Washington’s dictates as a suggestion and not a requirement. One of many states doing the same thing on many different issues. 

3) According to a recent article by the Heritage Foundation, South Carolina is not the only state of in the union actively working against the forced implementation of Common Core in their states:

  • In Oklahoma, the state senate passed legislation early in April reducing the state’s involvement with Common Core’s national standards, although there is some dispute as to whether it would fully remove Oklahoma from the standards, or merely change the name of the standards. Governor Mary Fallin , a supporter of Common Core said in a statement that she “support[s] passing legislation that increases classroom rigor and accountability while guaranteeing that Oklahoma public education is protected from federal interference…” 
  • The Missouri House of Representatives recently passed legislation to find a Common Core replacement. State Representative Kurt Bahr stated: “We’re going to create the process to have Missouri standards and Missouri assessments.” The Missouri legislation requires that by October 1, 2014, the state board of education must develop new academic standards by the following October 2015, in place of the Common Core, and adopt and implement these standards by the 2016-17 school year.
  • The New Orleans Advocate recently reported that in Louisiana, Governor Bobby Jindal, who once was a Common Core supporter, is now encouraging the Louisiana legislature to formally remove the state from the Common Core aligned Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers (PARCC) test. This position was announced on the heals of him receiving a letter from eight members of the Louisiana State House of Representatives informing Jindal of his ability to opt out of the standards and encouraging him to do so. 
The Heritage report concludes with the following summary of state government push backs on Common Core and the Federal government: “Fifteen states have now made strides in halting or downgrading their involvement in the standards. Last month, Indiana became the first state to exit Common Core. This is promising momentum in the effort of states to reclaim their educational decision-making authority.” 

When was the last time anyone can remember 30% of the states telling the Federal government to take a hike relative to a Federal program? Will the center hold, at least relative to Common Core? 

4) In early April, Missouri’s House passed veto proof gun rights  legislation that allows Missouri to refuse to enforce past, present and future Federal gun control laws that are viewed to be infringements on gun rights, and state residents would have the right to sue law enforcement for enforcing such laws. The legislation is expected to also pass the state senate. 

The veto proof component of the legislation is important since the state’s Governor indicated that he opposes such legislation, having vetoed a similar bill last year that also sought to nullify some Federal laws. Despite the governor’s resistance, Missouri becomes one of nearly ten other states have passed some form of legislation attempting to limit federal regulation of firearms within their border. 

The Missouri effort also contains several other gun rights components including lowering the minimum age to get a concealed weapons permit and allowing designated school personnel to carry firearms in buildings. 

So let’s review. A growing number of states do not want Washington’s Common Core shaky education standards and tenets and the attached bureaucracy and restrictions, a growing number of states have more respect for the Second Amendment than the Federal government and the Obama Presidency, taking actions to protect the rights of their citizens, and some citizens in at least one state (Wisconsin) are seriously fed up with everything coming out of Washington, so much so that they are willing to split off and form their own country. 

Which raises two interesting questions, questions that we have posed in the past and questions that are becoming closer and closer to a reality everyday: 1) What happens if Washington passes a law and very few states and citizens obey that law? 2) With such widespread disrespect and ignoring of Washington directions, will the center hold? More disobedience and push back on an overreaching Federal government tomorrow.

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