U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who has been ordered by President Donald Trump to get the feds out of education decisions that should be made at the state and local level, is still trying to coerce states into trampling parental rights. In Utah, the federal bullying on test taking, justified under the abusive Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), has now sparked a major scandal.
According to a report by an education-activist leader in Utah, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is threatening the state’s funding if more than 5 percent of students refuse to take federally backed standardized tests aligned with the dumbed-down national Common Core standards. Last year, almost 6 percent in the state refused as concerns over federal data-mining and Orwellian dossiers spread nationwide.
For DeVos, a Jeb Bush ally who helped protect the Obama-backed Common Core scheme in Michigan, that is unacceptable. And so, unless state leaders defy state protections for parental rights, Trump’s controversial “education” secretary’s administration vowed to withhold Title I funding, the largest source of federal education dollars doled out to states — regardless of what else is in Utah’s “education plan.”
DeVos’ minions already “rejected” Utah’s plan once under ESSA, citing the state’s protections for opt-outs from intrusive government testing. At that point state “education” officials began “negotiating” with the feds, basically groveling, with Utah State Superintendent Sydnee Dickson eventually surrendering on all key points without approval from the state board.
The “negotiation” culminated in a half-baked agreement in which the feds will treat any students over the 5 percent “opt-out” limit as non-proficient. As such, the U.S. government will be penalizing the state and government schools for parents and students who choose not to participate in the Orwellian data-mining regime being imposed by the feds.
Interestingly, DeVos’s unconstitutional bureaucracy appears to be going beyond what even the oppressive ESSA statute allows. “Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed as preempting a State or local law regarding the decision of a parent to not have the parent’s child participate in the academic assessments under this paragraph,” reads section 1111 of the monstrosity.
“What we have here is unelected federal officials — DeVos and deputies such as [USED Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Jason] Botel — attempting an end-run around elected state officials,” wrote grassroots education activist Autumn Foster Cook of Utah, who first drew attention to the issue. “This is basically what all federal education involvement enables.”
Of course, the real solution is not for DeVos to be more lenient in lording over state government’s indoctrination centers. Rather, a plain reading of the Constitution reveals that the federal government has exactly zero legitimate authority in education.
Trump should do what he proposed on the campaign trail: Abolish the U.S. Department of Education, and replace it with nothing. In the meantime, states should reject unconstitutional federal dollars and the horrifying strings that come attached to them.