Obama Administration Reveals GOP Leaders’ Betrayal on Common Core in Ed Bill

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (photo credit: Center for American Progress via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)

Anti-Common Core activists tried for months to warn Congress that the new federal education bill (the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA) was a disaster that would cement, not overturn, the odious progressive-education philosophies of the Obama Administration. Except for 64 House members (click here to see how your member voted) and 12 senators (click here to see how your senators voted) who were brave enough to buck Republican leadership, their warnings were dismissed. Now comes confirmation that the activists were dead on — and that Republican leadership, including Sen. Lamar Alexander, Rep. John Kline, and House Speaker Paul Ryan, carried out a cynical scheme to betray their constituents and give the Administration everything it wanted.

This confirmation comes from someone who should know — Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

In a just-released interview with Politico Pro, Duncan expressed joyful incredulity at how wonderful ESSA turned out to be from the Administration’s point of view (meaning, how bad it is for children, families, and the Constitution). “I’m stunned,” he said, “at how much better it ended up than either [House or Senate] bill going into conference. I had a Democratic congressman say to me that it’s a miracle — he’s literally never seen anything like it.”

What’s so good about ESSA, according to Duncan? “[I]f you look at the substance of what is there . . . embedded in the law are the values that we’ve promoted and proposed forever. Continue Reading

The GOP’s Corrupt Obamacore Bargain

President George W. Bush signs into law the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002

The success of Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Ted Cruz this year is a great and anguished shout from Republicans voters to the powers-that-be in Washington: The system is broken; it’s not working for us.

If you want to know why Republicans voters hate their party in Washington, pay close attention to what massive GOP majorities in the House and the Senate just did: Extend and give new life to the failed No Child Left Behind Act.

They did it the way Washington politicians do such things, by renaming it — No Child Left Behind is now called the Every Student Succeeds Act — and rigging the game so it would pass. The lengthy bill was posted only two days before legislators voted on it, ensuring that few of them would have time to read it and that the American people would have no time to weigh in. The army of highly paid lobbyists had already secured their pieces of the action, during months of what are described as intense negotiations.

Washington education experts such as AEI’s Frederick Hess tentatively endorsed the deal as the best that could be gotten with divided government, which raises an obvious question: Why did Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell decide to pass the first major education reform since 2002 less than a year before America chooses a new president? A Brookings scholar chimed in on the great conservative victory in an article titled, “Finally Taking Yes for an Answer: The Overdue Reform of NCLB”:

Mercifully, it appears that the all-or-nothing way of thinking is on the wane in the early days of the Paul Ryan speakership.

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Republican Congress Thwarts American People, Passes Obama-Backed Education Bill

U.S. Capitol Building

Several Republican presidential candidates had a great opportunity over the last two weeks to take the lead on an issue critical to millions of conservatives – federal control over public education. A couple helped their cause, a couple did not, and one blasted further down into the crater he’s been in from the beginning.

On Wednesday, the Senate followed the House in passing the conference report reauthorizing No Child Left Behind. Propaganda for the new bill, called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), trumpeted that it would return education control to the states, allow them to discard the Common Core national standards, and prohibit the Secretary of Education from dictating standards and assessments.

In fact, ESSA will have pretty much the opposite effect. It lays out particular requirements for state standards and uses code language throughout that gives the federal government the tools to pressure the states to stick with Common Core rather than risking their federal money by adopting something better. It maintains the federally dictated testing regimen and requires states to implement assessments that are expensive, that have been proven to be ineffective and unworkable, and that operate not by assessing students’ academic knowledge but rather by measuring their attitudes and dispositions.

Equally bad are ESSA’s new preschool program (extending federal tentacles over toddlers) and its institution of President Obama’s pet project, “21st-century community learning centers.” The latter means that schools will be expanded to replace family and church as the center of every child’s life, offering myriad “services” including mental-health programs. Continue Reading

Senators Cruz, Paul, Rubio — Here’s Your Chance

From left: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)

As the field of Republican presidential hopefuls narrows, the remaining candidates seek to distinguish themselves from the pack. They need an issue about which millions of grassroots citizens are passionate and that pits the grassroots against the establishment so as to capture the zeitgeist of this political season. Especially helpful would be an issue that so directly affects the well-being of children that grassroots parents would crawl over broken glass, as they say, to support the candidate who champions it.

Senator Cruz, Senator Paul, Senator Rubio – here’s your issue.

Yesterday, under the leadership of Speaker Paul Ryan and his shiny-new “transparent” regime, the House passed a monstrous bill that will subject public education to at least four more years of federal control and dangerous progressive-education theories. This bill is called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). A reauthorization of the failed and despised No Child Left Behind statute, ESSA is a “compromise” that blended the Senate and House reauthorization bills, ditched the conservative elements, and was served up in the form of a 1,061-page behemoth written in perplexing edu-speak.

ESSA was crafted behind closed doors by unknown parties. The American public was kept in the dark until November 30, at which point the gargantuan bill was posted online and set for a House vote only two days later. Pro-Constitution, anti-Common Core activists who have researched the progressive-ed Leviathan for years and who can cite chapter and verse of every unconstitutional scheme foisted on schoolchildren for the last thirty years, focused on different segments of the bill to try to assess how bad, and in many cases deceptive, the language was. Continue Reading

Obamacare 2.0? Congress Just Passed a Controversial Bill With Almost No Public Input

U.S. Capitol building

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday night despite a promise from Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) that he would not push bills through Congress without providing a realistic time for public analysis and input. ESSA’s text was finally made public this past Monday, with the House voting on the 1,000+ page bill just two days later.

Chairman Kline was correct when he said this bill was not a perfect bill. The gains that leadership points to in the bill are largely illusory. This bill has grave defects that are of real concern to parents, and these defects would have been avoided altogether had Congress bothered to listen to the people.

It’s like the Obamacare process all over again — secret meetings, backroom deals, and nobody was given time to read the whole bill. When Obamacare came down, the GOP was quick to sound the alarm that there was never an opportunity for legislators to hold town hall meetings or discuss the legislation with constituents. Once again, we have a 1,000+ page bill that impacts every household in America, yet the people were completely cut out of the process — and this time by the very same party that cried foul over the very same process five years ago.

ESSA is the product of leadership’s intent to cut the American people out of the legislative process. The bills in both chambers were pushed through without a meaningful opportunity for the legislators to review the bills and provide their input. Continue Reading

Republican Leadership Prepares to Ram Massive Education Bill Through Congress

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Just a few weeks ago, Speaker Ryan promised not to ram through thousand-page bills without allowing realistic public analysis and input. But with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which would reauthorize the failed No Child Left Behind, Speaker Ryan is already breaking his promise.

The House and Senate bills that resulted in the ESSA “compromise” were rushed through those chambers with little allowance for public input. Then, a hastily appointed conference committee rushed through its rubber-stamping in a matter of hours.

Now ESSA is being put to a House vote — only two days after the 1,061-page bill that came out of the secretive conference committee was made available. Members of Congress haven’t even had time to read it, much less communicate with their constituents through town hall meetings or otherwise. So the members will be voting on something they can’t possibly understand.

A preliminary and necessarily incomplete analysis of ESSA shows numerous problem that should kill the bill:

  • Several provisions that won over fence-sitters in the House, such as the Salmon amendment allowing parents to opt their children out of the federally coerced assessments, are gone.
  • No additional student-privacy provisions are included — in fact, the bill essentially ratifies the Obama administration’s gutting of federal privacy law.
  • The bill includes so many “alignment” and “coordination” requirements for standards, and so many disturbing requirements for psychologically profiling assessments, that any so-called prohibitions on what the Secretary can do are meaningless.  In any event, the bill contains no mechanism by which the states can enforce such prohibitions.
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