President Donald Trump signed an executive orderWednesday that directed U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to review federal regulations that infringe upon state and local governments’ ability to enact education policy at the level closest to the American people.
“The executive order I’m signing today is another critical step to restoring local control, which is so important,” Trump said in his remarks at the signing of the Education Federalism Executive Order. “This executive order directs Secretary DeVos to review current federal regulations and ensure that they don’t obstruct the ability of states, local governments, teachers, and most importantly, parents, to make the best decisions for their students and, in many cases, for their children.”
The order states the education secretary “shall, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, rescind or revise” any regulations or guidance documents “that are identified…as inconsistent with statutory prohibitions.” The secretary has 300 days to perform the review of regulations.
The president continued:
Previous administrations have wrongfully forced states and schools to comply with federal whims and dictate what our kids are taught. But we know that local communities do it best and know it best. The time has come to empower parents and teachers to make the decisions that help their students achieve success. That’s what this executive order is all about. So important.
Present at the signing of the executive order were Vice President Mike Pence, DeVos, and Govs. Kay Ivey (R-AL), Terry Branstad (R-IA), Paul LePage (R-ME), Brian Sandoval (R-NV), Gary Herbert (R-UT), Matt Mead (R-WY).
“As a former governor myself, I’ve always believed, as the President does, that education is a state and local function, and that decisions in education are best made by parents and teachers and local administrators,” Pence said. “The decisions over our children’s school should be made by parents and local administrators, not by politicians or unelected bureaucrats in a far, distant capital.”
DeVos said the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was “a good step in this direction, giving flexibility to states to best meet the needs of their communities.”
“We’re going to implement this law as Congress intended, not how the previous administration dictated,” the secretary added. “When we give decision-making power back to states and communities, students benefit. This executive order puts us on that track.”
Grassroots parent activists and education think tanks that have studied ESSA, however, say the federal law – even as passed in “bipartisan” fashion by establishment members of Congress and signed into law immediately by former President Barack Obama – anchors states to the controversial Common Core or its “rebrands” and still requires states to obtain the approval of the federal government for its education plans.
Quoting ESSA, American Principles Project senior fellow Jane Robbins and Indiana parent activist Erin Tuttle wrote at The Pulse 2016:
“Each State shall demonstrate that the challenging academic standards are aligned with entrance requirements for credit-bearing coursework in the system of public higher education in the State and relevant State career and technical education standards.”
“This is simply another way of saying states must have “college- and career-ready” standards,” the writers note. “And as made clear by the U.S. Department of Education’s own materials, “college- and career-ready” means Common Core.”
A homeschooling father who sought to give his children the best education available, by pulling them out of the politicized state schools in Cuba and teaching them at home, has been ordered to spend a year under house arrest.
The sentence was announced by a Cuban court for pastor Ramón Rigal and his wife, Adya, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association.
In a report by HSLDA Director of Global Outreach Mike Donnelly, Rigas said authorities used his three-hour trial this week as a platform for denouncing alternatives to government-controlled education.
“They would not let me speak in my defense,” Ramón told Donnelly. “I brought evidence that my children were learning – notebooks and materials – [but] they didn’t care.”
Donnelly explained the parents decided to homeschool their children earlier this year to “remove them from an environment where they were being bullied and indoctrinated in the state school system.”
They were arrested in February on claims they were contributing to the delinquency of minors.
At trial, the evidence the parents had brought, including that Cuba’s constitution and international agreements to which it is a party allow homeschooling, was dealt with quickly by the judge, the report said.
“When I tried to tell the judge about my evidence or to say that the government was acting unfairly, the judge told me that if I continued to speak she would have me removed from the courtroom,” Ramón told Donnelly.
He said that when he would try to bring up one of his witnesses, the judge would tell them to “get out of here.”
Donnelly said the judge instead used “what appeared to be scripted presentations from state employees, such as a school “psychologist” and a probation officer.
They testified that “only trained teachers are qualified to inculcate socialist values.”
Further, the prosecutor said homeschooling “is not allowed in Cuba because it has a capitalist foundation.”
The result, Donnelly concluded, “was just about what one expects from the communist courts of Cuba – anything but justice.”
While the parents technically can appeal, finding a lawyer may be impossible.
“Communist governments do not appreciate lawyers who are willing to defend people whose human rights have been violated. Officials in communist China recently arrested hundreds of lawyers who were then accused of disloyalty for denouncing abuses by the government,” the HSLDA report said.
“They are trying to force us to send our children only to state schools – not having the option for the children to be taught at home. They should respect the right that parents have based on the human right to teach their children and to respect their faith and the right to homeschool,” Ramon said.
Adya said she worries not just for her children but the congregation in her husband’s church.
The family has requested asylum in the United States.
“Home School Legal Defense Association will continue to support the Rigals, and we encourage the global homeschooling community to affirm the parents’ right to teach their children at home,” Donnelly’s report said.
The organization also as created an online petition to call on the Cuban government to correct the human rights abuse.
“Please sign this petition telling the Cuban Embassy that homeschooling is fundamental right of all families, and that you expect Cuba to protect basic human rights as a country maintaining normal relations with the United States,” said HSLDA.
WND reported as the couple headed to trial that while President Obama re-established diplomatic relations with the communist regime, the hoped-for improvement in human rights hasn’t materialized.
Article 26.3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights specifies that parents have the right to choose how to educate their children, but Cuba’s national law still states “education is a function of the state” and outlines what everyone must learn at a “minimum.”
The U.N. has said a parent’s right to choose the schooling for their child is a “prior” right that is higher than others.
It was the Municipal Office of Education in Guantanamo that explained “in our system, homeschooling is not considered an educational institution, as this term is basically used in countries with capitalist foundations.”