Michael Farris and HSLDA Have Been Wrong Before.

Why Parents Should Question Senator Ted Cruz's S 306 and Title I Portability-Education Choice.

Michael Farris of Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) supports presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz’s co-sponsored S 306. On February 5, 2016, Mr. Farris posted on Facebook his dismay that someone (me) would oppose Sen. Ted Cruz's legislation.

Michael Farris and HSLDA Have Been Wrong Before

Although I have written many articles about Title I portability, none explain the issues as well as my previous article about Senator Cruz's S 306 and the future of education in the United States if Title I portability is passed. It is titled TED CRUZ'S FEDERAL EDUCATION "CHOICE" KILLS THE AMERICAN DREAM: 

Here are the opening paragraphs of Mike Farris’s response to my article:

There are several points of history to mention before proceeding:

First, parents across this country, especially homeschool parents, should realize that this is not the first time HSLDA may be on the wrong side of the Constitution. In Mr. Farris's statement he implies that he thinks his claim to fame is most important and berates the not-so-important parents or researchers that have dared to challenge Sen. Ted Cruz and HSLDA.

Second, this is not the first time that Parents vs. Mr. Farris of HSLDA have fought in a parental rights battle. In 1995 legislation was written by Michael Farris, HSLDA, called the Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act, PRRA. In that battle Mr. Farris lost and the Parents won. Why? Because a truly grassroots effort was made by informed homeschool parents across this nation that stopped his bad bill dead in its tracks. But perhaps Mr. Farris forgets this episode when he tries to schmooze through another piece of bad legislation that put parents in danger.

It quickly became evident that we “mom researchers” did know how to read legislation. We still have the original 1995 letters from Professor Charles Rice, Notre Dame, a Constitutional Attorney, who was contacted to verify our research. He confirmed and substantiated our concerns. Quoting Dr. Rice in a letter to Mr. Farris, February 5, 1996, “In my opinion the PRRA is an imprudent and dangerous bill.”

After several altered states of the legislation, the bill was withdrawn by Mr. Farris. We research moms, with the help of Dr. Rice, shot down the PRRA which would have severely adversely impacted parental rights in the United States. That entire episode was highlighted by the research team of Weatherly, Hoge, and Sutton who fought for parents’ rights and won the respect of the entire country for fighting against establishment lawyers who thought more about their institutions than protecting children.

Third, it is a well-known fact that whenever Mr. Farris experiences opposition from within the ranks of citizens (especially moms) exercising their constitutional right to study his proposed laws, that he customarily disparages them as “that handful of radical few.” Hence it is not a surprise to find that Farris resorted to this same tactic of belittling my opposition to S 306. He wrote disparagingly on Facebook: “Why would anyone listen to ‘researchers’ who have never written laws, never argued cases and have no record other than the creation of conspiracy theories?”

In in my article I raised serious questions about the far-reaching ramifications of Sen. Ted Cruz's S 306 which Mr. Farris supports. I wrote that this bill is an imprudent and dangerous bill. Mr. Farris responded to my article by making this brief analysis on Facebook:

       "The law in question allows homeschoolers participate in savings accounts that have tax benefits. There are no government funds. There is no regulation of homeschooling. Just fair treatment for homeschoolers who want to save taxes on educational savings." (Emphasis added.)

Let’s analyze Mr. Farris's four brief comments on S 306:

  1. The first statement made by Mr. Farris is true. Homeschools will be able to participate in an ESA with government tax credits. Interestingly, Mr. Farris does not mention that homeschools are redefined in this process as a private school. Convenient for Mr. Farris, but somewhat distorted. What he doesn't say is that under Title I portability which is offered to all public, charter, private and religious schools, all children must open an ESA to deposit equitable government funding designed to “follow the child” in this federal so-called “choice” system when enacted.
  1. His second statement states there are no government funds. Easily said, but untrue. This is the second piece of the Cruz/Farris agenda that is distorted. If Mr. Farris had read the new Reauthorization of ESEA called, Every Student Succeeds Act, ESSA, or President Obama's Equity Plan, he may have changed his mind. S 306 enhances ESSA with federal public school choice under Title I portability which changes schools forever.

The Obama equity agenda intends to change how all schools are financed using civil rights as a catalyst to determine a “per pupil expenditure” for ALL children to receive the same exact funds no matter which school that student chooses to attend. This is federal choice. This is exactly what Senator Ted Cruz states,

"And in my view, the most compelling civil rights issue of the 21st century is the need to expand school choice and educational options so that EVERY child, regardless of race, ethnicity, or zip code has a fair opportunity to receive an excellent education.” (Emphasis added.) Source:

“The rich and middle class have had school choice from the beginning of time,” said Sen. Cruz. “This fight is about ensuring that every child, regardless of race, ethnicity, or zip code has the same opportunity to choose the school that best fits their needs and will help them achieve their very best..." January 29, 2015, Senator Cruz's website.

The Obama/Cruz solution is that money will be funded directly to EVERY child, not schools. An “excellent education” is masked by Common Core, which are the state standards accepted by 45 states. But no one is explaining how this is going to work. It's time for citizens and parents to dig into ESSA and S 306 and figure how they connect to one another.

This mantra of “equity” espouses that no matter which zip code you live in every child will have the same opportunity to choose (“choice”) where they go to school. Portability is for EVERY CHILD, not just poor children. This raises a serious question about what impact the Obama/Cruz agenda will have on local communities, taxing authorities, property evaluations, and elected school board members – and what damage it will do to our constitutional representative form of government. With the push for equity, or sameness, comes the idea of 'spreading the wealth around'. This will change the reason why you purchase a house in a particular zip code. Title I portability will mean the destruction of your neighborhood.

No one said it much clearer than federal Education Secretary Duncan who slammed white suburban soccer Moms who were against Common Core when he stated,

“It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback [on Common Core] is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary,” Duncan said. “Youve bet your house and where you live and everything on, ‘My childs going to be prepared.That can be a punch in the gut.” (Source)

Where you live (zip code) and and why you moved to that neighborhood (better schools) won't matter anymore.

Most parents do not understand that former Secretary Duncan and President Obama use Common Core to re-define success. Common Core is NOT teaching academics, that's one “punch in the gut.” The Common Core blanket is thrown over ALL schools to teach the same dumbed-down academic pipeline services and curriculum. That's another “punch in the gut.” If your child has been targeted for interventions, or has failed a Common Core test, in many cases it's not because of academics or how smart they are, it's because of the dumbed-down Common Core psychobabble. That's another “punch in the gut.”  Wealthy school districts and white suburbia are targets for change under President Obama's equity and race-based revitalization plan. (Source) That's another “punch in the gut.” But, Title I portability moves your tax money around, that's the ugliest “punch in the ‘representative government’ gut.”

How schools will be refinanced is to ensure that all schools are the same, i.e., “per pupil expenditures” which is a major portion of the ESSA legislation.  ESSA refers to this as "public school choice." (Source: ESSA, ‘(D) PUBLIC SCHOOL CHOICE; PAGE 92) The word that must be remembered here is PUBLIC.

Common Core opposition warriors know the power shift in academia. Common Core standards were moved away from the teacher in the classroom to an outside locus of NO LOCAL CONTROL. Common Core standards “follow the child” and are the same in every state. Common Core opponents also know that the National Center for Education Statistics, NCES/IES, set up a state longitudinal data system that monitors, collects, and allows datamining on individual children, with a unique national ID and a dossier that “follows the child.” Common Core data elements have the digital sameness in every state resembling a nationalized curriculum aligned to the accountable Common Core.

But what's missing? Equitable funding! The money must “follow the child.” Which money has been targeted for traveling with the child? Title I portability. It's the sameness that follows that same pattern. But the impact of equitable funding will blow up your neighborhood school and deflate your property values. Sen. Ted Cruz devises Title I portability to be those equitable funds in S 306. In other words Common Core is Title I and Senator Cruz wants to give those Title I funds to everyone. That's his Common Core “punch in the gut.”

In this instance, parents must have a government vehicle to deposit that public money. ALL schoolwide, identified Title I CHILDREN enrolled in any public, charter, private school, religious school, and homeschool will be able to open an ESA in which federal, state, and local funds can be deposited. That bag of cash gets bigger and bigger as ESSA allows all federal monies to be accrued in the Title I bag.  (Source: ESSA: Page 290; Eligible Federal Funds for equitable distributions of state and local taxes) ESSA names 50 pilot schools to go to bat for sameness, which in three years, all schools can switch to a per pupil expenditure. (Source: pages 278-279; ESSA, Every Student Succeeds Act states,"create a single school funding system based on weighted per-pupil allocations for low-income and otherwise disadvantaged students.")

Other pilots worth watching are Nevada and Arizona, as well as, the DC Scholarship program where parents open a GOVERNMENT ESA to deposit accumulating funds that would normally be used to fund public schools. This is your hard-earned tax dollars. (Source: Read Sen.Ted Cruz sponsors Education Freedom Accountability Act Jan. 21, 2016)

So, yes, Mr. Farris, homeschools will be able to open an ESA, along with every other child in the U.S., to cover their “choice” of school, services, and interventions... But public school choice means government money in ESSA and S 306.

  1. In his third statement, Mr. Farris states there will be no regulation. He must be kidding. Not true. A link in S 306 takes you directly to ESEA Title I Common Core state mandated standards, tests, and interventions for public, private, and religious schools. (Let me remind you that it is presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz who redefines a homeschool as a private school to open an ESA to receive a government tax credit from the IRS.) When Sen. Ted Cruz states that he will do away with Common Core, he turns around and uses S 306 and Title I to drench all children in Common Core garbage.

ESSA federal Title I money will be heavily regulated by the IES, Institute for Educational Sciences, virtually an acting national school board, that identifies children as At-Risk of failing Common Core in Title I evaluations. “Direct student services” carried out by IDEA, Special Education combined funds also deposited in the ESA, are defined throughout ESSA legislation specifically stating the psychological interventions that MUST be used for students to meet affective domain/non-academic standards. All students are identified as failing if they are not "proficient" on tests aligned to Common Core. How else would the federal government's IES monitor and account for their financial investment? All schools are a target for compliance. But private, religious, and homeschools will have an ombudsman to oversee compliance, charter, and accreditation with regulations and “qualified” expenses.  (Source: Page 185-186 ESSA, Participation of Private School Children shall be provided services on an equitable basis; Page 833 Participation of Private School Children, (B) OMBUDSMAN.—To help ensure equitable services are provided to private school children, teachers, and other educational per- sonnel under this section,)

  1. Is this fair treatment for all homeschoolers as Mr. Farris states? I'm not sure you want to call this agenda fair, but it is definitely equitable. Every child will be taught the same, funded the same and monitored to the same set of standards... Common Core.

In Mr. Farris's closing statement he says,

Why would anyone listen to "researchers" who have never written laws, never argued cases and have no record other than the creation of conspiracy theories?

I have not endorsed Cruz but these attacks are wildly irresponsible.

Our research team has slowed down federal education overreach many, many times. We continue to fight to preserve the right of parents to raise up their children in the manner that they wish. We stand on the principles of Pierce vs. Society of Sisters: Children are not mere creatures of the state.

To this end, a letter dated November 13, 2015 to Senator Cruz from HSLDA stated, HSLDA is neutral to the federal legislation, ESSA. How sad that a bunch of lawyers cannot see the forest for the trees. You can probably say that these guys are “wildly irresponsible.”

Who CAN you trust? Can anyone “Trust” Ted?

Note: William Estrada, HSLDA, and Cruz have joined up in a Cruz Homeschool Coalition. That's pretty close to HSLDA endorsing Sen. Ted Cruz for President with HSLDA's homeschool following. See here and here.

A Final Note: President Obama and former Secretary Duncan removed Title I poverty levels in schools which were lowered to "0" % by "waiving" the No Child Left Behind federal law. A Schoolwide net covers all schools whether they are wealthy or not, so ALL children would become Common Core disadvantaged. ESSA codifies the Schoolwide agenda. S 306 Title I portability funds will be used for ALL Schoolwide Title I children.

 http://goldwaterinstitute.org/en/work/topics/education/education-savings-accounts/the-next-frontier-in-education/

http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2013/07/expanding-education-choices-from-vouchers-and-tax-credits-to-savings-accounts

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