House Speaker [crscore]Paul Ryan[/crscore] passed a No Child Left Behind (NCLB) conference report — by a 359-64 margin — reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Wednesday night. It exposed a divided Republican party as 64 House Republicans refused to join the unanimous block of House Democrats supporting S. 1177, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
“It will be the largest piece of legislation regarding education that has passed in over a decade,” said Erin Tuttle, an Indiana mom who has gained national attention for fighting Common Core standards and has established herself as an effective advocate on the matter.
The previously-passed House and Senate ESEA reauthorization bills were both deeply flawed and parents opposed them, she says in this video interview for the Daily Caller News Foundation. But then a few legislators worked with the Obama administration to cut and paste those House and Senate bills together to create a “Frankenstein bill,” she says.
With the text of the 1061-page bill only being released on Monday, those studying the text felt jammed as they recalled the way Obamacare was pressed through Congress. Grassroots activists have found themselves hopping mad at the new Republican House Speaker, who had promised transparency, an open process and a more responsive House.
“Anybody who votes for [S. 1177] is placing themselves at political risk,” Tuttle said. “Congress needs to understand that when they pass a bill, it gets implemented, and when it gets implemented, people feel it. There will be consequences of this bill throughout the years and they will be held responsible for it. Just like nobody wants their name on No Child Left Behind, no one will want their name on this bill [the Every Student Achieves Act]. The smart politician, the one who actually wants to have a long career, not one that ends in the next year or two, is going to want to recognize that and be smart and vote no.”
In fact, Eagle Forum is launching a new project, the White Flag Congress, using the education vote last night as a reason to challenge Republicans in Congress.
“This week is the perfect time to launch the White Flag Congress townhalls,” said Ed Martin, president of Eagle Forum Wednesday. “The Republican-controlled Congress is on the verge of passing a new legislative behemoth that will control public education for years to come. The only conservative provisions in this bill have now been cut. Speaker Ryan is about to raise the white flag, yet again, and hand liberal groups and teachers unions a huge victory. We simply cannot allow Republican leadership to surrender control of public education for years to come without some kind of severe repercussions.”
The House vote and next week’s Senate vote appear to be a repudiation of the Republican stance to abolish the Department of Education and return power to local districts and parents. The biggest loser in what Congress has done, Tuttle says, are the kids. “Those little kids sitting in schools counting on us, counting on Congress to do what’s right for them. It makes me angry.”
According to Tuttle, the biggest winners of this legislation are the testing and technology companies who profit off the imposition of products through the national education networks, as well as the government leviathan.
The biggest “villains” named by Tuttle are the authors of this education legislation because they have not been honest on what their bill does. The Republican leadership, including Speaker Ryan, are now on her “villain” list as well after giving the public too little time to absorb the possible impact of the text.
Heroes include Utah Senator [crscore]Mike Lee[/crscore], Virginia Rep. [crscore]Dave Brat[/crscore], Texas Senator [crscore]Ted Cruz[/crscore], Kentucky Senator [crscore]Rand Paul[/crscore], the House Freedom Caucus members, the American Principles Project, Eagle Forum and The Heritage Foundation.
The marketing and talking points about what sponsors said would be in the bill began a week before the text was available. Tuttle found endorsements from the National Governors Association and The Wall Street Journal “not grounded” by the text of the bill she began reading on Monday with others across the nation. “People are not that stupid,” she says. This is a “sham.” It is “lazy, sloppy governance” by the Congress.
Opposition was growing among Republican members, causing Ryan to jam the vote faster than anticipated — another slight to the Republican base whose frustration with GOP governance is leading them to rally around Donald Trump.
On substance, Tuttle gave the bill an “F,” starting from the deceit by which it has been marketed. She says this is “nothing better than NCLB.” And it will have massive consequences for teachers, parents and children. Republicans, she thought, would have wanted to wait for a new president. But this authorization extends the bill through 2020 — continuing the influence of the Obama administration through the next president’s term.
The activist says the bill does not give states adequate authority, contrary to the claims of the sponsors. There are no enforcement provisions protecting states against overreach by the federal authorities. Looking at the supporters of this legislation, she says, you see those who support Common Core and the testing regime.
The bill, she says, will not end Common Core. “Wiggle room” has been added to text language, Tuttle explains, that thwart the purported claims of GOP sponsors in their attempt to limit federal power. Besides, the American Principle Project has said, “the highly prescriptive requirements for dictating standards, assessments, and accountability systems” are still in the bill, regardless of what standards are named.
Commenting on the troubling, non-academic trends in federal education policy, grassroots activists pointed to the short speech on the House floor Wednesday by Republican Ohio Rep. [crscore]Tim Ryan[/crscore] about the need to change students attitudes, values, beliefs and behaviors.
In voting against the education bill, Republican Oklahoma Rep. [crscore]Jim Bridenstine[/crscore], said, “ESSA expands the role of the federal government by creating a program for pre-school managed by the Department of Health and Human Services and expanding after school programs.”
He went on to say, “No Child Left Behind was a seriously flawed law that greatly increased federal control of education. I was disappointed that the Every Student Succeeds Act missed the opportunity to return control of our children’s education to where it belongs — states, local school districts, and ultimately, parents.”
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