the dress


The above meme about The Dress and its connection  with the Student Success Act  (Bill Text: Student Success Act) is obvious.  What your eyes are telling you via a photograph or reading proposed legislation is up to interpretation.  Some see the dress as gold/white while others insist the dress is black/blue.  Some House Representatives insist The Student Success Act actually empowers states in making educational decisions while other Representatives and an increasing number of taxpayers read the 600 page act and are alarmed at the Federal Government ‘allowing’ state flexibility IF the states align their plans to what the Feds deem appropriate.

The Wall Street Journal wrote  about the differing perceptions of the dress:

There is no clear-cut or ‘dominant’ response from the red, green, blue receptors in the retina. What happens instead is a complex combination of responses, which is interpreted differently by different individuals.

Another factor affecting color perception is the sensor involved—in this case, the sensor in the camera that took the picture. The display (your computer or gadget screen) also has an effect. And finally, the retinal sensors and visual machinery of the brain also play a role in color perception.

In the case of the mystery dress, the first four factors are exactly the same for two individuals looking at the photograph of the outfit. But it is a variation in the fifth factor that accounts for why two people perceive its color differently.


The fifth factor (retinal sensors and visual machinery of the brain playing a role in color perception) can be applied to The Student Success Act.  The authors of the Act are applying personal perceptions (not the rule of law) to what they believe the Federal Government should be accomplishing in education.  If the Federal Government doesn’t trust the states or wants more educational control, the answer would be to expand NCLB mandates by establishing Federal guidelines determining state adherence to those Federal guidelines.  One of the most alarming amendments offered in The Student Success Act (HR5) was the naming of a USDOEd ombudsman to review state textbooks to ensure they were held to high academic standards (which are approved or not by the same USDOEd):


So in effect, the department would review textbooks to ensure they align themselves to the standards that the same department has determined to be appropriate.  That appears as if the Federal Government would have the final say in textbooks schools should use, which is illegal.  The amendment was rejected by a by a 182-243 vote.  The Hill reported on this amendment and included a quote from Representative Rokita, a co-sponsor of HR5, and see if you can spot the irony (is the Act white/gold or black/blue):


Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), however, said that disputes over textbooks should be left to individual states.

“States should have good textbooks for students that cover the material thoroughly, fairly, and most importantly, accurately,” Rokita said. “But there is no federal role in determining what those books are or judging the quality of them, frankly. All the arguments the gentleman made can be taken care of at the state level and at the local level.”


There really is no federal role in state educational matters overall.  It’s the power the Federal Government has granted itself.  Can/should all the arguments the supporters of HR5  make be ‘taken care of at the state and local level’?  What is the difference between having the Federal Government make sure students are reading Federally approved text vs states having to seek Federal approval before state educational plans can be implemented?  Why is there a federal role judging the quality of state educational plans or any other federal role in educational matters?  Why is Federal power granted in some instances and not others?

These are questions Representatives should answer before voting for HR5, now scheduled to resume for hearings on Monday, March 2.  They need to defend their decision to vote for an Act that is capricious and not based on the rule of law.  Otherwise, the question on what the Federal Government will ‘allow’ states in their plans, how ‘high states must jump’ comes into play again (channeling NCLB) and this Student Success Act is revealed to just contain just more punitive mandates to states imposed by the Federal Government.  Like the dress question, is it gold/white or black/blue, the more serious question for our children and states is will this Act create more flexibility or will states collapse under the weight of Federal prescriptive?

Don’t argue with perceptions, rather, demand the rule of law be applied in legislation and question whether this legislative process is even legal.  Otherwise, the Federal Government becomes whatever it deems itself to be.  So what color IS the Student Success Act?  THAT question is what should make taxpayers and parents confused and scared.  When the law is ignored and the Federal Government grants itself the power of the states, it can be whatever color it decides.


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