Community Schools are Not Just a Fantasy! – Part 2

Published September 21, 2015

By Nancy Thorner and Bonnie O’Neil – 

We should have known America was in for major changes when Michelle Obama stated: “We are going to have to change our conversation; we’re going to have to change our traditions, our history; we’re going to have to move into a different place as a nation.” A few months later, Barack confirmed by stating: “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” Oh, yes, there were warnings as to their plans, but who thought they had meant to change the very core of who we are as a people? 

Our first major clues of the changes our president had in mind were evident in those he chose for his cabinet. Victor Davis Hanson mentioned some of Obama’s questionable liberal choices in an article that described the “worst of the worst.” However, he missed Arnie Duncan, Secretary of Education, who ushered in the controversial Common Core Standards.

See here for Part 1. 

Obama’s Secretary of Education, Arnie Duncan, is now pressing forward to go beyond the controversial Common Core.  Duncan has a new plan for America’s children as outlined under S1787, which aims to amend Title V of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to establish a full-service community schools grant program, specifically for those who are our most vulnerable children. This is no surprise considering Duncan has the support of President Obama who shares his liberal ideas. Duncan’s newest education plan is a huge leap towards fulfilling his radical goals, one of which is seen in this statement:  

“…We have pursued a cradle-to-career education agenda, from early childhood programs through post-secondary graduation.  We have to learn to think very differently about time. I think our school day is too short.  I think our school week is too short.  I think our school year is too short.”    

Diane Ravitch presents this devastating critique of Arne Duncan assigning him an F grade.  Ravitch believes it will take years to recover from the damage that Arne Duncan’s policies have inflicted on public education. 

One Step at a Time Toward Federal Control

Secretary Duncan would prefer our children spend up to 12 hours a day at school and cut out most summer vacation time.  He has even discussed having public boarding schools, although it is unclear who will pay for such an expense. Suzanne Hammer explained Duncan’s philosophy in this statement:

“With this administration, the mantra of “the end justifies the means” governs these officials’ actions.  If the end is to have more control over the indoctrination of children by keeping them away from parents longer, the administration feels justified in using whatever steps are necessary to do so.  It seems the government is willing to convert and expand government controlled schools into public boarding schools, at taxpayer expense.”

Some would claim that Hammer’s opinion is outrageous, and such a plan will never happen?  Well, maybe not immediately, but it is possible when its  promoters take one step at a time. Common Core acquainted the public with a break from education being the total responsibility of the state, by first introducing and then promoting it at the federal level.  The end result was a definite reduction of local control. 

We also know several states have begun increasing student school time.  President Obamas’ former Chief of Staff and Secretary Duncan’s friend, Chicago Mayor Rham Emanuel, increased public school hours in Illinois. Teachers were required to work 58 hour weeks.  However, problems occurred when teachers began complaining about the extra hours and excessive work load.  Teacher unions demanded raising salaries and/or hiring part time teachers.  Assessing the high financial costs of increasing school hours became a significant issue, as estimates indicated the need for hundreds of millions in funding, depending upon the specific number of increased hours.  Ideas as to how to procure the extra financing were discussed, but the possibility of raising the amount deemed necessary within the state proved difficult. 

Other states bought into the concept of longer school hours and additional school days, and they too realized the need for additional funding.  It became obvious in order to have longer hours and more school days, additional financing would be necessary from federal sources.  Perhaps the additional funding requirements associated with adapting to Common Core, had already caused a funding crisis in their schools, which might help explain why Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown introduced S.1787:  Full-Service Community Schools Act of 2015. 

As we look at S1787, which authorizes federal funding for “Community Schools” and knowing plans for these schools are already in place, we all need to take a closer look at the escalating problem of federal intervention into our schools.  It might be prudent to take another close look at dismantling the federal Department of Education.

Alex Newman in his August 12, 2015 article states:  “Obama’s ‘Community Schools’ program aims to replace parents.”  He provides facts highly critical of Obama’s and Duncan’s project, and makes it clear that children ensnared by these schools can spend virtually most of the day confined to classrooms.  

Duncan’s selling point is that students will benefit by all of the ‘services’ the school will provide.  The end result is that “Community Schools”, with long hours and special “services”, will make a child’s family irrelevant.”  Some say, “of course, that is one of the program’s major goals.”  

What to Expect When Government Intrudes Upon Parental Rights 

When schools go way beyond their role of providing a strong academic education and instead assume responsibilities traditionally expected of parents, it could be described as welfare on steroids. It is an unhealthy intrusion upon parental rights, with the possibility of families becoming addicted to another federal government welfare program.  For low income families, a school that provides for their child’s every need from academics to health care; supplying students with every meal and choosing their entertainment in the evening hours is tempting.

However, is it really beneficial to the health of our country to allow government to become responsible for raising our children?   Is it prudent to force students to be at school the whole day? The apologists for this extreme system claim it will keep “at risk” kids off the streets and have them in a safe environment.  However, what is the ultimate impact on children to have teachers as their custodians and psychologists hearing their problems?  Parents are not perfect, but they are more likely to offer a more authentic love and interest in their child than paid strangers.

Critics might ask what we recommend to solve the problem of crime in the most vulnerable cities, as they suggest a lack of education can be part of the problem. The answer is that America has endured far more difficult hardships and financial times than anything experienced in our lifetime. Previous generations not only survived hard times, they did so without government assistance. The  difficulties caused them and America to grow stronger. Family, neighbors and churches helped those in need, and that system worked best, because it was temporary assistance born out of a personal relationship with someone going through hard times.

The recipients were greatly appreciative of those who helped them, and the provider felt good about the help offered. It was a far better system than the “forced” system today. Economically, having government as the facilitator, automatically cuts into funds before reaching the needy. Even more problematic is that after years of accepting welfare, recipients have begun to  feel entitled to the steady support, and tax payers resent paying the taxes, without the reward of knowing or seeing the recipient helped. When individuals give on a one to one basis, they know who is deserving of assistance … and who is not.  The personal welfare system proved effective and also  benefited children who learned the reward of personal giving and the feeling of  gratitude when their family was helped.   Children learned life changing lessons, such as the value of a good education, because that translated into well paying jobs.  

Big Government and Education Not Compatible

Proof that the government cannot solve people’s financial situations is the “War on Poverty”, in which government has already invested  fifty years of time and a whopping $22 trillion cost to taxpayers.  The result has been a colossal failure:  poverty actually increased.  The answer to prosperity is that people need to be empowered, not enslaved by easy money from the government.   Children learn life lessons best through experiences, both good and bad.

If S1787 becomes law, parents will become increasingly irrelevant over time.  Government must have more faith in the public, and parents need to have more pride and confidence in themselves.  It is best when children are taught and raised by parents, with minimal intrusion from our government, otherwise we will appear more like a socialist state than citizens living in the land of the “free and the brave”.    America  became great through the efforts of  self-sufficient, proud, caring, and capable people. It is those attributes that will most benefit our families and successfully lead us into the future.  Let us never forget President Reagan’s famous quote:  “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”

Part 1: