Steve A. Stone
Letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos
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By Steve A. Stone
March 9, 2020


From the desk of
STEVE A. STONE

25 Feb. 2020

Mrs. Betsy DeVos
Secretary of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-7100

Dear Mrs. DeVos,

I am writing you to discuss the state of education in America and give my views on what is needed to fix some truly egregious situations. My credentials for doing this are as follows: I am retired military, a career senior civil servant, and a father whose daughter attended public schools, and I have studied the operational philosophy of education in America for several years to understand the influence of John Dewey and the progressive movement. I am also the author of eight published books, seven of which are dominated by political, sociological, and economic commentaries and research findings. In my humble opinion the number one crisis in America today, the one that has the greatest potential to completely demolish our federal republic, is the state of public education in our nation.

Today I was spurred on to write you after viewing a video on social-emotional learning (SEL) and how such social programming has supplanted traditional learning and citizenship training our schools once provided. It isn't that I wasn't aware long ago, but the video I watched so accurately portrayed the situation that I knew it is time for me to take more direct action than I have in the past.

I'm a member of a Tea Party group in Alabama, Common Sense Campaign, that joined forces with the other Tea Parties in Alabama over eight years ago to fight the implementation of Common Core State Standards. We lost that fight. Since then we've fought every year to have Common Core (or College and Career Ready State Standards as they retitled them) rescinded and removed from our schools. Today we are no closer than we've ever been to achieving that goal. If you've studied the history of education in Alabama, you know the state as a perennial cellar-dweller, usually right alongside other poor states like Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana. But about 15 years ago there was a new program proposed for Alabama that gained traction and was implemented – a program that made dramatic changes. Three years after its introduction, Alabama rose from #49 in the nation in educational achievement to #25. The state finally had a program that worked and could legitimately brag about the quality of an Alabama education. But, that was all undone by the implementation of Common Core. Within three years of Common Core's implementation, Alabama was once again down at the bottom and has been ranked in the bottom four states in education for the past four years. I contend crimes have been committed against the parents, children, and all other citizens of the state.

When you were first appointed to your present office, we all learned of your vocal advocacy for charter schools. Those of us who have been studying education for a while know that the quality of education of charter schools varies widely, but we always appreciate the aspect of choice that charter schools bring. But, advocacy is one thing and federal policy is another. Many thousands of parents have waited patiently for the Department of Education to change and to pull back from its role in local schools. We've seen very little of that. In fact, the situation in public schools only seems to grow worse.

As a student of the progressive movement in America from its advent before 1900 to the present day, I know well what has been going on. The progressives targeted America's college campuses for takeovers in the 1930s and largely succeeded. Many today think the current state of colleges is something new; that the tremendous dominance of liberal/progressive/socialist/communist ideologies in faculties all over America happened recently. Those of us who have watched it over many decades and studied progressivism understand today as a planned evolution that actually matured in the 1960s. It's not new. People in our country are finally waking up; perhaps too late.

The next move of the progressives was begun around 1951 when they committed to taking over K-12. In the "old days," local communities ran their schools. Local school boards made policy and groups like the Parent Teacher Associations served as monitors and advisors for them. Things started going awry when states began to establish state-level school boards and to dictate policy to the locals. The goals seemed noble enough – to ensure a normalization of the quality of education so that all schools in the state taught roughly the same things in the same grades. But, there was a hidden agenda to it all, and that was to wrest control from the locals and to begin to introduce new subjects and new methods. In 1953 Congress approved the formation of a new executive department, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW). HEW slowly intruded into the business already weakened by the state-level boards. By the 1960s the educational policies pushed by progressives in HEW were talking hold. If you review curricula from that era you'll find evidence of social programming, though teaching academics was still the main occupation of teachers in most schools. The trend accelerated as time went on. History classes were changed dramatically and by the early 1980s, many schools across the land were teaching American History in accordance with Howard Zinn's negative viewpoint. It's just true that our children were learning self-hatred and to loathe the policies of our government throughout the history of our nation. A new emphasis on environmentalism was apparent as well. We naively thought of it as raising the social consciousness of our young, not as social programming.

Today, thanks to the Obama administration's Race to the Top (RTTT) initiatives and its emphasis on common standards, we find ourselves in a true mess. While most people have heard of Common Core, relatively few people, even parents, fully understand what it is and what its objectives are. And Common Core is only one. Remember, RTTT was about common standards – plural. If you've never studied the templates for the History and Social Studies Standards, the National Science Standards, and the National Sexuality Education Standards, you have no idea what's truly happening in the classrooms of America, nor what the expectations are of our youngest and most impressionable citizens. When I studied them, I admit it – they frightened me. I knew what I was reading, even though the standards are presented in a purposefully objective and innocuous manner. I could see how the social programming of the standards progresses through the grades until the child graduates as a full-fledged advocate of all progressive social initiatives. I won't go into details. If you aren't familiar with those standards, I urge you to find a trusted and knowledgeable staff person to give you detailed briefings on each of them.

It's possible that the standards themselves are not the most frightening aspect of the K-12 experience. I learned quite by chance of the American School Counselor Association's own standards, the ASCA National Standards for Students. This is the instrument that allows ASCA-certified counselors to interview each and every student on a regular basis and document them according to an assessment known as ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors for Student Success. Every student in America is assessed by the same methodology using the same templates and their "scores" as determined by their counselor are entered in the Student Longitudinal Database system. The goal of the ASCA assessments is to define all students according to one of four primary career tracks. The ultimate objective appears to be to allow students to be segmented upon graduation from high school, with students channeled to defined career tracks that may define their future. Some will be channeled to a vocational track, others toward STEM, some toward general academics, while still others may be directed toward careers in academics. It's all too easy to compare this scenario to scenes in George Orwell's classic 1984.

To give you some highlights of my own research, I've attached two articles that I published last year. Both appear in my newest book, which was published just this week.

One concerning aspect of today's K-12 experience is the loss of all privacy. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was enacted in 1974 to protect individuals and families from the disclosure of educational records without the consent of parents or a court order. FERPA has been so neutered by the way RTTT was implemented that students today have absolutely no guarantees of privacy at all. It's all just pretense now.

All I've written before is just background for the statements that follow. This is the real message. The federal government is the major proponent of social indoctrination of our young in America today. Policies handed down by initiatives like RTTT, No Child Left Behind, and many others have been designed by progressive education activists and passed off as "modern" educational theories when they are actually meant to establish the foundation of a future socialist America. Recall that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev visited America in 1961 and declared, "... your grandchildren will grow up under communism." Very few in the nation understood his declaration and most thought it was mere buffoonery. But, in hindsight it seems likely that Khrushchev knew something few Americans did – that there was a very active underground progressive movement in America that had already been working toward the goal he stated for over 40 years. Khrushchev understood the timeline the progressives were working to and was signaling to America what he believed our future to be. Was he right? We may know as early as this coming November.

The establishment of HEW was a progressive agenda item and goal. The later spin-off of the Department of Education under President Jimmy Carter was another progressive goal. The department has always been laden with progressive activists, and their handiwork is readily apparent today, especially in the adoption of common standards.

I won't dwell on the scams that were involved in instituting the common standards with minimal federal fingerprints. It was clever the way it was all put together so that the standards could not be killed off by any law passed by Congress. It was all very clever that state sovereignty has been invoked as rationale for why the Department of Education doesn't step in and rescue the parents and students. But, it's both a crisis and a tragedy for them and for the nation as a whole.

If you do anything at all in your remaining tenure in office as the Secretary of Education, please consider getting involved in resolving the crisis I've described. Learn whatever you need to learn to validate the truth of the things I have written. Learn all you need, but please don't hesitate to act. We have already lost a generation. That's readily apparent if you only consider the young people who form the most ardent supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and the other avowed progressives and socialists who are now coming out of the woodwork. Those young people didn't form their opinions on their own. They were programmed in public schools. Do we really have to lose another generation? Can it be stopped and education returned to its former goals of providing a decent foundation in academics and good citizenship? If not stopped in a very, very few years, I assure you the future of America is exactly as Nikita Khrushchev declared. Those grandchildren he was talking about are the generation, we've already lost. If they are backed up by another generation they will be the instrument of America's destruction as a federal republic. They will be the ones who will re-write America's history and who will rend the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution asunder. They will willingly and eagerly institute socialism as their economic model and work toward instituting a communist regime until it is achieved. If you doubt that I urge you to more study. What we are experiencing now is only history repeating itself. But it's a history that doesn't have to happen if you and others in the Department of Education take immediate and certain actions.

My personal perspective is your department should be shut down. When you read our Constitution, you won't find the word "education" anywhere. It's not a defined responsibility of the federal government, which means, according to the Tenth Amendment, it's supposed to be a power reserved to the states. I'm practical, though, and understand our Congress, as it is currently constituted, won't shut your department down. But it can and should be downsized and its functions trimmed to the point it is no longer the overlord of state-level educational initiatives. If I had my way, the Department of Education would only be in charge of doling out funding approved by Congress and tracking funding expenditures for the sake of accountability. I would eliminate all federal policy direction to the individual states so they could once again assume state primacy and sovereignty according to the letter of the Tenth Amendment. We cannot fix education in America until we return to local control. I'm certain the experiences we've had over the past 67 years can aid in formulating local policies in many ways, but until parents once again have a say in the education of their children, our entire nation is at grave risk.

I stand ready to assist you in any way possible.

In Liberty,

Steve A. Stone

© Steve A. Stone

 

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Steve A. Stone

Steve A. Stone is and always will be a Texan, though he's lived outside that great state for all but 3 years since 1970. He currently resides in Grand Bay, AL, with his wife of 44 years and a larger herd of furry dependents. Steve retired from the US Coast Guard reserves in 2011 after serving over 22 years in uniform over the span of four decades. His service included duty on two US Navy attack submarines, and one Navy and two US Coast Guard Reserve Units. He has worked as a senior civil servant for the US Navy for over 30 years, and is still on the job. Steve is a member of the Mobile County Republican Executive Committee and Common Sense Campaign, South Alabama's largest Tea Party. He is also a member of SUBVETS, Inc. and a life member of both the NRA and The Submarine League. In 2018, Steve created 671 Press LLC to publish his books under – he does it his way.

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