Dr. Duke Pesta is the academic director of Freedom Project Academy and a tenured professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. He’s taught at major research institutions and small liberal arts colleges at both the graduate and undergraduate levels and has garnered seven teaching awards at four universities. He is one of America’s foremost authorities on the dangers of Common Core, having delivered more than 600 talks and has testified about Common Core and education reform before 20 state legislatures. He’s author of the book, ‘The Renaissance and the Postmodern: A Study in Comparative Critical Values’.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVoss, agrees with President Trump that Common Core is a disaster and that at the U.S. Department of Education Common Core is dead. Is it?
In answering that question, Dr. Pesta wondered how you can spend 7 years spending billions of dollars to force this into schools, bribe states to take it, transform the textbook industry, to reduce public school education to an exercise in Common Core federal standardized tests, to retrain teachers across America to only know Common Core material, and then by fiat claim it’s dead?
The push-back was so hard against Common Core that every state simply renamed it. It’s been rebranded and is now part of the ‘DNA’ in how our children are being educated, so according to Dr. Pesta, to say that Common Core has gone away simply isn’t true.
He believes that whether she likes it or not, Betsy DeVoss is ‘Washington’. President Trump promised us that he would get rid of the Department of Education. He didn’t and Dr. Pesta said he won’t. In appointing DeVoss to her position, he appointed a woman who won’t get rid of that department either. This means Washington remains the problem.
Keep in mind that before Obama gave us Common Core, George Bush gave us ‘No Child Left Behind’. Before that you had ‘Goals 2000’ from Bill Clinton, all of which takes us back to the formation of the Department of Education in 1979. Up to that time, we’d been educating kids quite well for 170 years. Then in the late ’70’s we created another federal bureaucracy and put that in charge of education. At that point, all of the money that went directly from Congress to the states now was funneled through the Department of Education. The department then used that money as a bribe. Those state boards of education that complied with federal mandates received more money and those that didn’t received nothing.
Overall, the Washington approach to education has failed. DeVoss acknowledges that, but then seems to think that by pretending it’s gone away, she’s fixed it. She has to go in and root out all of the legislation and reforms that go back 50 years that the feds have used to wrench control of the eduction of our kids away from local communities, states, teachers and parents and that solidify it at the federal level.
Dr. Pesta noted that if DeVoss really believed what she says, she’d be working to undue the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). He believes she should get rid of that first and then begin dismantling the Department of Education. He doesn’t believe that will happen, but if it would, then she could honestly say she’s trying to fix the problem in Washington.
As you review this edition of Crosstalk, you’ll hear Dr. Pesta explain the correlation between and the logic behind the forming of the previously mentioned education programs and the more recent ESSA. These programs are not about educating our kids well or poorly. They are delivery systems to force states, textbook companies, testing companies, teachers, and teacher training colleges to completely revamp the way they view and deliver education in America, with the federal government as the highest authority.
More specifically, Dr. Pesta believes the ESSA takes all of the unconstitutional and illegal maneuvers of the Obama administration to get Common Core into the state schools, retroactively legalizes them, and for the first time in American history, centralizes control over public schools at the federal level.