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"The Great Smoke and Mirrors Magic Show" Common Core & Bice PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Withdrawing from the MOA

 "The Great Smoke and Mirrors Magic Show"


P.T. Barnum, the famous circus showman, once declared, "There's a sucker born every minute." Apparently many involved in Alabama politics are of the same opinion. As the latest example: Dr. Thomas Bice and his primary co-horts on the State School Board, Mary Scott Hunter and Tracey Roberts, staged the "Great Tommy Bice Smoke and Mirrors Magic Show" at the last State School Board meeting in Montgomery. It would seem that to "the end justifies the means" crowd a little razzle-dazzle is good for the liberal soul and "one should never let the truth get in the way of a good story."


But why the command performance you ask. Well, as parents and the general public have become aware of the dangers of ObamaCore (Common Core), which many believe will do to American education what Obamacare is presently doing to American health care, pressure has been steadily mounting on Legislators to do something to repeal it. With an election in sight, there is a pressing need for politicians to calm the political troubled waters before they swell into a tidal wave that washes back over office holders in the 2014 elections. They will need our votes to stay in office and they want this issue to go away before they are forced into a recorded vote that they will have to explain, and explain, and explain to the voters on the campaign trail.


Alabama Legislators are being squeezed between their big campaign contributors at the Business Council of Alabama and the Chamber of Commerce, who support Common Core for their own business interests, and their active conservative base which strongly opposes it. The Republican leadership wants very badly to toss this hot potato back to the State School Board who created this mess in the first place. Therein lies the dilemma.  How can Dr. Bice, Superintendent of Education, actually "not do" anything to derail Common Core but at the same time make it appear to the voters that he has? 


In truth they can't have it both ways. "There you have it," trumpets Ringmaster Bice, "we just won't use the truth. Instead, we will tell them that rescinding the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on Common Core will break all ties to the Federal Government's control of education in Alabama.  They won't know the difference. We will just tell them we fixed the problem." 


So the State School Board did exactly that- voted to rescind the MOA and then told everybody that "as if by magic," they had fixed the problem of federal control.  It didn't seem to bother Dr. Bice that he absolutely knew that this was un-true and nothing but a fabrication designed to deceive.  Larry Craven, the General Council for the Alabama Department of Education had told him so- in writing- way back in February. Craven is the State School Board's attorney.


Back during the 2013 Legislative session, there were rumors that Governor Bentley, who openly opposes Common Core, was considering using an Executive Order to rescind the original MOA. Those of us opposed to Common Core told the Governor that, in our opinion, this would not be effective.  Dr. Bice apparently heard the rumors as well and asked his attorney for a legal opinion on the effects of withdrawing the MOA. Larry Craven, in a February 28, 2013 memorandum to Dr. Bice (I have a copy) stated and I quote, "The MOA has no legal obligations. The MOA has been superseded in practice at the state level by the State Board of Education's adoption of the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards ... The MOA was merely a foundation and starting point for the Alabama Standards that are now in place."


With or without the MOA, these other legal agreements, as Craven stated, will remain in force. If you take federal money you are in a federal program.  And federal programs

always come with federal control.  To avoid Common Core's, nationalization of and the Feds eventual complete control of Alabama education it will require a full scale divorce from these other Federal entanglements.  Alabama Legislators, whether they want to or not, are going to have to repeal Common Core in order to escape federal control and data mining. Dr. Bice's  smoke and mirrors magic show was an attempt to make them, and the public, think that they could escape this reality.


Dr. Bice has known full well since last February that rescinding the MOA would have no real effect. In fact, he went to great lengths, to make sure it would have no effect before he offered to rescind it! He knew this during the legislative session and he knew this when he started this latest in a long line of deceptions designed to mislead both the Legislature and the public about Common Core.


This sort of behavior has become the norm under Bice's leadership at the Department of Education. Recently I saw a series of European political cartoons about what is happening to America. One of them had a caption which read, "Ed" actually stands for "Excessive Dishonesty." For the promoters of Alabama's Common Core, this appears to be true.


Ken Freeman, ACR