Feds Threaten Florida and Returning to Proper Principles

Diane Ravitch posted the very disturbing story about the boy in Florida who was on his death bed and state officials made him take a Common Core assessment test. Lawmakers moved to pass “Ethan’s Law” to prevent such horrific nonsense, but then dropped it and just added some general accountability language elsewhere.


Why did they do this? The feds stepped in and said if more than 1% of disabled children opted out of the test Florida would be in violation of federal law.


What is happening in America?

Diane Ravitch also agrees with the Cato Institute that the Obama administration is using Common Core to nationalize education, stating:

“I appreciate the necessity of a vigorous federal government that provides a safety net and protects the neediest. However, I don’t appreciate the federal government doing what is clearly illegal, that is, controlling, directing, and supervising curriculum and instruction via the Common Core standards. Although its supporters, including President Obama and Secretary Duncan, repeat that its development was “state-led,” that was a deception. Bill gates funded them because the Feds were barred from doing so, but the Feds funded the tests that will control curriculum and instruction. There has been no louder cheerleader than Duncan.”


Recently, a student in New York was suspended from school for 2 days. Her crime? Telling fellow students they could opt-out of their Common Core tests.


Meanwhile in Long Island, over 20,000 parents have opted their children out of Common Core tests.


What is happening to America? Someone sent me a link to a Cato Institute report showing each state’s adjusted performance on the SAT test and the dollars being spent in education. Look at Utah’s terrible track record and yet we constantly hear from educrats how we need more money in education.



Why do we continue to have such issues all across America? What has happened over this time span?

There are many factors, but not least of which is the amount of pressure being put on students to do better and better and to treat them like widgets on an assembly line. “If we can just put this knowledge into their heads at this age, they’ll turn out better prepared for college and a career.” Really? I doubt it. Admittedly, I was no stellar example of doing well in school when I was a child. I was pretty average. I loved math, and hated English and social studies. I wanted to be a pilot but turned out to be an accountant…by choice in the end, but I wish I’d had greater freedom in my own educational experience and been able to explore things I wanted to, rather than have people direct my schedule and learning sequence for me.

I have been fighting the education establishment for 10 years now. 10 years ago it started in Alpine School District when they quit teaching the times tables and long division to children under Investigations math. Yes, you read that correctly. For at least 3 straight years this happened and I have personally spoken with teachers who had their contracts threatened, one teacher who lost his job over it, and numerous teachers who confided in me that they used to shut their doors to teach the times tables to children. It was insane.

Fast forward several years and I was trying to find philosophical solutions. Connor Boyack one day mentioned he had a copy of “Teach the Children, an Agency Approach to Education” by Neil Flinders. I obtained a copy of the book through Amazon and contacted Neil. We held a strategic conference and invited people from all over Utah to come participate in something unique…namely, the creation of core principles that should drive education.

These are the principles we developed.

An agency-based education:

  1. Must be based in choice and not compulsion
  2. Helps develop an internal moral compass as one fosters a recognition and love of truth
  3. Recognizes that truth best inspires when sought from original source materials
  4. Should be individualized to allow children to identify and develop their gifts and talents and discover their life’s missions
  5. Must recognize that parents have the sovereign stewardship to guide their children’s educational journey

Common Core clearly violates items 1, 4, and 5. I do not believe we will ever see significant educational and behavioral improvement no matter how much money is spent, unless we return to these core principles and respect students and parents in ways that Common Core will never do.

You can learn more about agency-based education from our website. There are a number of videos from past conferences which you can watch and in the coming days, more will be published and this movement will continue to grow. I invite you to get on the mailing list there (very low volume) to stay in touch with what’s happening.


6 thoughts on “Feds Threaten Florida and Returning to Proper Principles”

  1. I believe CC also violates 2 and 3, particularly in their quest for “higher order” thinking and brainwashing with things that simply aren’t true (Shakespeare? Global warming?)

  2. Thanks for continually fighting Oak! You’re the man! And these standards are excellent. Just letting you know we’re on your side!

  3. The only reason I left those off is because I said “clearly” and meant 100% violations. 2 and 3 are partial violations. They do talk about source documents and teachers can still teach truth and good things. But the other 3 are 100% violations in my book.

  4. Are there any in the established education profession who strive to implement these principles you list here?

    1. Absolutely. I know many teachers who are in various avenues of education that subscribe to those principles, however, in public and charter schools governed by regulations that trump some of these things, it’s very difficult for those teachers to fulfill all of those principles. For example, the idea that SAGE tests can’t be seen by parents irks many teachers because the purpose of schools written into state law is to be a “secondary support” to parents who have the “fundamental liberty interest” in the education of their child. Bad policies prevent some of these things from happening at times.

  5. There is one principle that is heavily engrained in education and society and it will be the downfall of both. That is the principle of entitlement. The philosophy of not wanting kids or people to deal with the consequences of their action or the actions of others is evil.

    When I make a mistake, the consequence of that mistake is the learning experience. Take that consequence away and you have taken away the learning opportunity as well.

    Yes, it sucks when someone else’s choice affects you, that’s why we need to learn from mistakes, from our consequences. When we finally figure out that our decisions do affect other people, then the learning really begins. Unfortunately, entitlement blinds us to these basic truths and principles.

    The Feds think we are too dumb to take care of ourselves. The state thinks we are too dumb. The school districts think we are too dumb, the teachers think we are too dumb. See the pattern? In many cases, they may be right, but enabling entitlement and taking away the consequence, the learning opportunity which all the aforementioned organizations do, it a main cause of why they are right.

    We need to allow consequences and true learning.

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