First National Standards Lawsuit
School Choice Weekly, Issue #10
Nine families and a nonprofit organization in Kansas have fired the first shot in court against the national standards octopus. They’ve sued to stop the saccharine-labeled Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), alleging the standards’ push for one set of evidence regarding human origins forces taxpayers to support religion, amounts to the state establishing atheism as a religion, and indoctrinates impressionable students. Strong stuff.
“The standards lead the child to believe that evidence for a creator is an illusion,” says John Calvert, an attorney for the plaintiffs. Their case has several implications. First, because the families filed in a federal court, whatever the courts decide will apply to all states that eventually adopt NGSS. Many people expect most states to do so because NGSS is, by design, compatible with the math and English Common Core education standards that 46 states have adopted. Second, while the suit focuses on national science standards, it is yet another force into the populist tidal wave amassing against national education standards, period. Third, if the courts favor the families’ arguments, it will mean an end to many schools’ retreat to secular humanism as a bulwark against religious controversies. The suit argues, based on a 1961 Supreme Court ruling and several other cases, that materialism, secular humanism, and atheism (which are largely one and the same) themselves constitute a religion that government may not endorse, enforce, or support with tax dollars. In other words, there is even less religiously neutral ground for schools to stand on than many are.
Libertarian-leaning commentators and researchers have for some time noted that forcing everyone into public schools that must attempt to make everyone happy often makes more people unhappy. People simply have different dispositions and philosophies that inevitably do and should change how they approach that part of forming a human being we call education.
Rather than force everyone into one education philosophy decided by social conflict in which he with the biggest guns wins, research and common sense shows it would be better for social harmony and religious tolerance if we let families choose schools that fit their deepest beliefs.
SOURCE: School Reform News, Cato Institute, Friedman Foundation
IN THIS ISSUE:
- INDIANA: Twenty thousand children applied for school vouchers this year, a four-fold increase from two years ago. Private schools currently have little capacity to enroll many more students next year, and the amount of voucher money provided is too low to enable startup schools to meet more demand.
- LOUISIANA: After a barrage of bad press, the Obama administration says its lawsuit against vouchers for poor black kids just seeks better information about the program’s effects on desegregation efforts. The lawsuit has become a punching bag for Republicans like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and nonprofits like the Black Alliance for Educational Options.
- INDIA: The nation’s network of low-cost private schools proves poor parents are not too ignorant to pick good schools for their kids, write three researchers. “Research indicates that ordinary people making decisions based on relatively simple data can outperform experts who use much more complex measurements in a wide variety of areas,” they note.
- WISCONSIN: Gov. Scott Walker says the state can do better than Common Core. Wisconsin begins a series of hearings on the national standards this Thursday, with Left and Right charged for the action.
- LOUISIANA: Democrats come out swinging against Common Core. Gov. Bobby Jindal is under pressure to back off the standards. He says he likes high expectations but not federal intrusion.
- MICHIGAN: The House reinstates funding for Common Core, with some caveats. Senate leaders, however, say they’ll take their time to consider the legislation.
- NATIONAL TESTS: Sixty-one percent of “education insiders” believe Common Core foes have the momentum, 79 percent believe more states will drop Common Core national tests in 2013, and 90 percent think more states will drop in 2014.
- NEW JERSEY: Lawmakers have introduced legislation to pause and rethink Common Core. This puts New Jersey with New York as blue states reconsidering the initiative. Maryland also fits in this category, but hasn’t seen legislation yet.
- USDOE: The government shutdown will mostly impact federal bureaucrats, not schools. The ineffective Head Start preschool program is the biggest area where the shutdown will affect families.
- ARIZONA: Meet the charter school that puts the rest of the world in the academic dust. Oh, by the way: The schools officials disdain Common Core.
- CALIFORNIA: Los Angeles spends $1 billion on iPads and encounters a host of problems, including no clear policy on who is responsible for broken computers, immediate hacking, and spending more than retail price.
- REFORM: The frenzy for teacher evaluations and school turnarounds has accomplished essentially nothing, says Rick Hess. He says infrastructure and culture are as important, or possibly more important, than policy.
- MINNESOTA: The state is rapidly destroying its education quality by eliminating graduation tests, reducing standards for teachers, and preserving last in, first out requirements for teachers.
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