One of the more polarizing topics of current day discussion, is the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (also known as the Common Core) in our classrooms across the country. Common Core is the newly implemented educational program, designed to establish nation-wide consistent standards that will ensure that high school graduates will be college ready. Currently, the Common Core applies to English and Math, with expansion to other subjects believed to be on the horizon.
The Common Core program is effectively bank rolled by Bill Gates, who has reportedly "invested" more than $200 million dollars of his seemingly endless money supply. In addition to using his money, Bill Gates used his strong political influence to convince many, including President Obama who maintained an administration replete with former Gates Foundation staffers and associates, to climb aboard the Common Core train.
Subsequently and without a single vote cast by the people or their state representatives, the Common Core was adopted in virtually every state in the country. This widespread acceptance of the Common Core, was in no small part due to federal education funds being contingent upon same. Opponents believe that the Common Core represents an ill advised and illegal federal overreach of powers, that will permanently tarnish the educational system in our country. Advocates believe that the Common Core represents a long overdue and sorely needed change in our educational system, that has become necessary in order to properly prepare our children for college. All of this prompts the question as to whether or not the Common Core is legal.
The 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that, "Powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively or to the people." In other words, the federal government is limited only to the powers granted to it in the Constitution. Common Core opponents argue that education is reserved in general for the states. Further, that the federal implementation and state coercion to accept the Common Core, is an overreach of federal powers and therefore unconstitutional. Common Core advocates argue that states had the choice of whether or not to accept the Common Core and therefore no federal overreach exists. However, in these depressed economic times with education facing extreme financial challenges, states simply could not afford to say no to Common Core in that federal funds were contingent upon state acceptance. The offer of Common Core was tantamount to making states "an offer they couldn't refuse."
In addition to the Constitution is the General Educational Provisions Act (20 USC section 1232) which states that, "No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer or employee of the U.S. to exercise any direction, supervision or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system."
Similarly, The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (20 USC section 7907) provides, "Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize...the federal government to mandate, direct or control a State, local educational agency or school's curriculum, program of instruction or allocation of State and local resources, or mandate a State or any subdivision thereof to spend any funds or incur any costs not paid for under this Act."
Common Core opponents argue that by coercing states into accepting the program and compelling them to "race to the top," the federal government is in direct violation of the two preceding Acts. Advocates maintain that no such violation exists, in that it was the choice of each state to decide whether or not to accept the Common Core. Following that line of logic, would be to say that it was the person's choice to hand over his or her wallet to a criminal, when a gun was pressed to that person's head and given the choice of "Your money or your life." That is what is known as a false dilemma, because in reality there is no choice or option. Additional issues have also been raised as to privacy violations, in that private student information is apparently being shared and liberated by the program without consent.
So is the Common Core really about what is in the best interest of our children, or nothing more than an exceedingly rich man's quest for power, control and domination? That may soon be a question for our courts to decide.
Long Island Lawyer
Paul A. Lauto, Esq.