The Student Success Act, which was passed by the House in 2013, but was removed from a vote this past February due to grassroots parental opposition, will come before the House again tomorrow, unchanged from the February version. House Education Chairman John Klein (R-CA) said the problem was one of education. They needed to educate the House members more. They didn’t need to listen to the public or educate them more on why the bill was so good. They decided to stick with the original talking points which weren’t fully supported by the language of the bill.

Parents Against the Common Core has been very vocal in its opposition to the bill, especially its continued heavy emphasis on testing. Through the bill, the federal Dept. of Education will continue to have a significant role in directing state education plans. It will also continue to collect student data. Now that we are discovering that sex and race are really more of a state of mind, it is questionable how much value much of the demographic data that they collect will have.  Too bad we still have to pay to do it.

Things are really no better in the Senate. The Every Child Achieves Act. According to American Principles Project the Senate bill “targets the Opt-Out movement” of parents who have refused to allow their children to take state standardized tests, many of which are now aligned with the Common Core standards. This is one of the few levers left to parents who object to the narrowing of curriculum and class time wasted in order to teach to the test. ECAA requires states to submit a comprehensive education plan which includes standardized testing and assurances that every child (or at least 95%)  will take the test. The USDoED approves these plans.

In a  Townhall interview Emmet McGroarty, Executive Director of the American Principles Project, put it this way.

“A state must still have an “accountability system” that includes, as a “substantial” factor, student performance on standardized tests. It does try to lessen the teach-to-the-test pressures by allowing the state to determine “the weight” of the tests in the accountability system. But this will not alleviate such pressures. It’s like saying, “We’re going to beat you with a wooden bat, not a metal one.”

Representative Justin Amash (R-MI) is one of the few in DC who seems to understand what the real problem is.  On his Facebook page he wrote this.

I voted no on H.R. 5, Student Success Act, which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and many aspects of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) through Fiscal Year 2019. Authorization for these programs expired in 2008, so ESEA and NCLB have not been the law for nearly five years.

The Rules of the House prohibit appropriating for purposes not actually authorized by law (like ESEA/NCLB), but a loophole in the Rules for continuing resolutions (CRs)—bills that simply extend current spending levels—have allowed funding for these unauthorized programs to continue (and Congress routinely violates the rule against unauthorized appropriations, anyway). Nonetheless, under current law, these federal education programs have expired, and the federal government has no authority to continue imposing its top-down, one-size-fits-all standards upon our students, teachers, and school districts.

I can’t support reauthorizing federal intrusion into and control over education policy, which should be handled at the state and local level. The bill also authorizes nearly $23 billion per year for the next six years—or $137 billion in all.

Congress is not listening to the public. They aren’t following the rules.  But the rest of us are expected to submit our children to their rules and pay handily for their implementation.

Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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