Obama and GOP Unleash “Community Schools” to Replace Parents*
By Alex Newman
Parents, beware — Big Brother is coming for your kids.
Buried deep inside the mammoth “bipartisan” so-called “education” legislation approved last month, dubbed the “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA), is a radical expansion of what the statute refers to as “full-service community schools.”
The controversial institutions, more accurately described as parental replacement centres, seek to oversee every aspect of your child’s life, ranging from their “mental health” and “well being” to nutrition and even dentistry. You are in the crosshairs, too, as the Obama administration defines parents as “equal partners” in child rearing. And those are just some of the many unconstitutional provisions in the bill and beyond that aim to turn government schools into parents, and parents into pariahs.
In short, an increasingly out-of-control Uncle Sam — with support from the leadership of both major political parties — wants to raise your child. And with the support of virtually every education-related special interest group you can think of, the latest federal education statute, passed by the GOP Congress and cheerfully signed as a “miracle” by Obama last month, is among the primary means by which the feds plan to further undermine and attack your role as parents. The implications of the accelerating assaults on families, parental rights, constitutionally limited government, the future of America’s children, and the future of the nation itself cannot be overstated.
Consider, for example, that these community schools are supposed to provide what the legislation refers to as “pipeline services.” The statute defines it like this:
“The term ‘pipeline services’ means a continuum of coordinated supports, services, and opportunities for children from birth through entry into and success in post-secondary education, and career attainment.”
Those “services” must include, at a minimum: “early childhood education;” school and out-of-school programs and “strategies”; support for children’s “transitions”; family “supports,” including “at home”; career counselling; “Social, health, nutrition, and mental health services and supports”; “crime prevention and rehabilitation programs”; and much more. In other words, everything that families once provided for children will become the responsibility of “community schools.” All that is missing now is hugs and bedtime stories from Big Brother.
Students will not be the only ones targeted, however. In a section dealing with what the statute describes as “promise neighbourhoods” targeted for additional federally funded “services,” the statute calls for the targeting of everyone with these “pipeline services.” Bureaucrats and institutions, including government schools funded under the scheme, will be charged with providing “social, health, nutrition, and mental health services and supports, for children, family members, and community members.” Family members and community members, in other words, will be targeted for government intervention, up to and including “mental health services.” That means you. Language calling for home visitations appears to have been removed from the bill prior to final passage, but that hardly means it will not be pursued anyway.
Under the statute, a full-service community school is defined as a government-run elementary or secondary school that “participates in a community-based effort to coordinate and integrate educational, developmental, family, health, and other comprehensive services through community-based organizations and public and private partnerships.” The parental replacement centres also must “target” families and children for “services” covering their “academic, physical, social, emotional, health, mental health, and other needs,” according to the statute. The legislation, though, merely expands and purports to authorize and boost funding for various programs on “community schools” that had already been unleashed by Obama’s Education Department, apparently without specific statutory authority to do so.
While parents and voters might be alarmed at the schemes, special-interests, crony capitalists, teachers’ unions, bureaucrats, and other Big Government forces were celebrating the developments.
“The inclusion of the Full-Service Community Schools program in the Every Student Succeeds Act reflects a broader vision for our public schools in ESSA — a vision that recognizes that educators must work in partnership with their communities to help all young people thrive,” exclaimed Martin Blank, director of the Coalition for Community Schools and president of the educational totalitarianism-promoting Institute for Educational Leadership.
The coalition celebrated Representative Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) for their efforts to promote the scheme.
Not even bothering to conceal the Orwellian nature of his pet project, Hoyer bragged about his role in pushing the scheme through Congress, as well as the unprecedented government meddling in family life that it aims to bring about.
“Promoting full-service community schools has been a priority of mine for many years, and this legislation builds on earlier efforts to promote and expand this model, which brings existing critical community services for children and their parents — such as early childhood learning, medical and dental screenings, and career counselling — into schools,” the far-left congressman said in a statement.
Apparently top school bureaucrats also believe their job responsibilities include usurping the role of families and parents in the raising of their own children.
“In a broad ESSA that offers comprehensive reauthorization, we are proud to continue to support the Community Schools model and commend Congress for including the program in the reauthorization,” said Dan Domenech, executive director of AASA, the School Superintendents Association.
“The Full Service Community Schools program encompasses more than just academics — it ensures success beyond the inside of school buildings. Only when children have support for all their needs will schools have a real chance of helping every student master required education concepts and skills.”
Big Labor was delighted, too. American Federation of Teachers boss Randi Weingarten, for instance, could hardly contain her glee about the rapidly expanding role of government schools in child rearing.
“This is a big win for students, families and educators because the wraparound services that are part and parcel of community schools help level the playing field for disadvantaged students and their families,” she gushed in a statement.
“In addition to providing a strong academic program, community schools provide social, emotional and health services needed to educate the whole child and mitigate the impact of poverty. This is particularly important today since more than half of all public school students are poor.”
As community schools increasingly usurp more and more control over more and more children, the Obama administration is forging ahead in other areas, too. The U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services, for example, are currently pursuing a policy in which parents are described as “equal partners” with government in the raising of their own children.
“It is the position of the Departments that all early childhood programs and schools recognize families as equal partners in improving children’s development, learning and wellness across all settings, and over the course of their children’s developmental and educational experiences,” reads the draft policy posted on the federal government’s website.
Beyond community schools, the ESSA legislation also targets Americans for government “education” at earlier and earlier ages. Among other provisions, the ESSA scheme creates a new federal preschool program — entirely unconstitutional — with massive funding levels aimed at bringing more and more children into government care and the earliest possible opportunity.
“We know that the early years can make a huge difference in a child’s life, so this law lays the foundation to expand high-quality pre-schools,” boasted Obama, who called the bill passed by the GOP-controlled Congress a “Christmas miracle.” Since taking office, Obama has been trying to herd more children into government-run programs. And thanks to Republicans, he has now succeeded, as top Obama officials have been boasting.
Also part of the new statute are “21st century community learning centres,” described in the legislation as a scheme to offer students a “broad array of additional services” including everything from “counselling programs” and “health education” to “cultural programs” and “youth development activities.”
The scheme is meant to keep children in government care outside of school hours, too, providing funds for “activities” before and after the school day. Even parents are supposed to be ensnared in the federal program, with the statute calling for the “community learning centres” to provide a “parenting skills program.” Data collection to measure “student success” is a key component of the plot, too.
Critics sounded the alarm. Attorney and activist Jane Robbins with Truth in American Education, for instance, said the “community learning centres” scheme means “schools will be expanded to replace family and church as the centre of every child’s life, offering myriad ‘services’ including mental-health programs.” “Few things should alarm parents more than the prospect of the government’s assessing their child’s mental health and proceeding to fix any problem the government claims to find,” Robbins added, noting that this is precisely what the Republican Congress had imposed on America. U.S. taxpayers will fork over more than $1 billion per year for the “community learning” scheme alone.
The broader ESSA legislation, which was celebrated by the Obama administration as a massive victory for its radical agenda, is also packed with references to “mental health.” In essence, government schools are now expected to seek out any child deemed to have a “mental health” problem — or even those children supposedly potentially at risk of someday developing a “mental health” problem. Teachers are expected to receive training in how to identify such children. Children will be regularly tested and profiled for the purpose. Schools, meanwhile, will be charged with referring such students for “treatment.” The role of parents in the whole process, if there is one, remains unclear. But considering trends in the “mental health” industry, parents should be deeply concerned about these developments.
The ESSA statute, despite being unconstitutional on every level, is going to help the Obama administration and the broader establishment in their goal of “fundamentally transforming” America. In fact, the legislation will be crucial, as it targets the minds of children for radical brainwashing and indoctrination. Top Obama education bureaucrats have already made their Orwellian agenda clear. Recently retired Education Secretary Arne Duncan, for instance, has boasted of using government schools to transform your children into “green citizens” with UNESCO as his “global partner.” He has also called for government boarding schools that would keep some children 24/7.
Americans concerned about the future of their children, liberties, self-government, Constitution, and even nation, must resist the agenda and protect their own children from a federal government gone mad. Withdrawing from government schools and replacing members of Congress who violated their oath of office and the Constitution to foist ESSA on America would be a good start.