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  • Morning Bell: The Backdoor Attempt to Rewrite No Child Left Behind

    Remember when then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said of Obamacare that Congress will “have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it”? Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) is now taking that approach with his attempt to revamp education in America. And just as that strategy was a terrible idea for health care, it’s the wrong move for education, as well.

    The Senate today will begin the markup of Harkin’s 860-page proposal to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), now known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The proposal amounts to more new regulations and red tape that would be layered on to local school districts, maintaining the status quo of Washington-centric education reform. And the trouble is that the Senate hasn’t even had time to parse through the proposed legislation, let alone hear from those whom it seeks to control. In an exclusive interview yesterday with The Heritage Foundation, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) explained his frustrations with the process:

    The bill is 868 pages and we got it yesterday, and I talked to committee members today and said this isn’t the way government should work. I thought we’d have hearings. We’ve had zero hearings on No Child Left Behind. I would think we’d have several significant hearings…Bring in the teachers, bring in the superintendents, bring in the principals and find out more about it. We’ve had none of that, and I think it’s rotten.

    Paul’s solution to the problem? He has promised to introduce 100 amendments, including a complete repeal of NCLB, in order to slow down the committee and force them to take time to consider everything that’s in Harkin’s proposal.

    And that’s with good reason. The federal government’s heavy-handed, top-down approach in education hasn’t delivered results, as Heritage’s Lindsey Burke writes:

    This represents the ninth such bet since the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, and none has proved successful. NCLB, the most recent reauthorization of ESEA, has left local school districts crying out for more freedom from federal red tape and to have their educational decision-making authority restored.

    Burke explains that among the proposals are codifying Obama Administration education priorities, such as the “equitable distribution” of effective teachers among schools and replacing existing federal standards with requirements that states prove they have “college- and career-ready” standards (giving Washington more control over the content taught in local schools). Meanwhile, any state that wants to receive money under Title 1 of the bill–the largest source of federal funding for K-12 education–will have to go along with the Obama Administration’s new Common Core standards regime.

    More federal involvement in education is not the way to help America’s students succeed. It hasn’t worked in the past, and there’s no reason to believe it will work again. Meanwhile, ramming through an 860-page proposal that was authored behind closed doors isn’t the way to transparently reform education, either. Burke says there’s a better way:

    Instead of, to quote Reagan, another 860 page “bureaucratic boondoggle,” policymakers should work to reduce the federal footprint on education. A good proposal would allow states to completely opt out of No Child Left Behind. A good proposal would allow states to spend education dollars in a way that meets student needs and allow states to enact school choice options for families. But Washington hasn’t learned its lesson after more than four decades of federal failure in education. Because what we’re seeing now is a big government attempt to reinforce the failed status quo.

    Slowing down the legislative process and fully considering the ramifications of Harkin’s proposal is a good first start. But the next step should be for Congress to allow states to make their own decisions on how to best direct dollars to meet their needs.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    59 Responses to Morning Bell: The Backdoor Attempt to Rewrite No Child Left Behind

    1. Benny D says:

      The main problem is government itself. Where is the constitutional authority for the government to be involved in the first place? In addition, if the government collects the money for education and then re-distributes it, what percentage actually gets down to the local level. Let the local level determine what their education system will be, and certainly, no higher than the state level. The Federal Government has not taught one student yet. Get them out of it.

      • robert dinkle says:

        Education "IS" funded locally. It is funded by property tax that never goes to Washington.

      • Doug Nicholson says:

        We need the Feds totally OUT of education! And robert is partially correct that local money does fund the school…except that the feds are constantly kicking in cash in order to be able to layer on the regulations and to control the curriculum.

    2. KC - NM says:

      This is a good move by the Senator! Bringing in actual experts in the field to help develop a workable plan makes sense. This does not include bringing in university type individuals who are only book smart and have not worked! This is the difference between the Obama administration and a viable and energetic country. We must involve the right individuals in the decision-making and then pull government out of the picture as much as possible.

      • MG - NJ says:

        I agree, too often we let the people with the most vested interest in the status quo have the greatest influence on policy. These people are labelled "experts", but it seems they are usually expert in the ideas and techniques that are failing. We don't need to hear from someone who doesn't know how to make changes that work, we need people who have tried new things and had success!

    3. cclueg says:

      There should not even be a federal Dept of Education. The best plan is to phase out that dept.

    4. AHR says:

      No Child Left Behind has already usurped more local control of schools and it should be repealed.

    5. Keith Derby says:

      Senator Paul is the real deal and will become a leader in the Republican Party. I ask why is the federal govenment funding education at all?

    6. get the feds out of education; eliminate the dept of ed;; integration opened the door for the feds and now they brainwash our kids to the socialist,economic justice garbage;; private competetive schools will stop this.

    7. John says:

      Maybe I'm nit-picking, but Lindsey Burke said that "…local school districts [are] crying out… to have their educational decision-making authority restored." I would say it is neither the federal government nor the local school districts who have any authority when it comes to a child's education, but rather, it is the parent who does, and should have, that authority. Good article, though.

      Ultimately in all of these bills, schemes, and programs, we are seeing the erosion of parental rights where the government wants complete control of us from the cradle to the grave. What better way to get that control than under the banner of "education"?

      • Doug Nicholson says:

        If we can get the Feds out, then local school boards, who will be responsive to the desires of parents, will be making the decisions.

    8. Gwynn Wilkinson says:

      When I was going up in the 1940's and 50's my mother repeated often about how Hitler got control of the children of Germany and it was by getting control of the schools. She said that is why it is so important that each state control their school system, so a "Hitler" can't take control of what is taught in the schools. How long ago did we forfeit the states control over their schools for federal funding?

    9. W. S. Gerald Skey says:

      I have lost count of the number of efforts Politicians have made to improve education and they all – every one of them – miss the target. Improvement in education has got to begin with the "Family". I doubt that I could be persuaded that any system of education can ever hope to replace the family as the catalyst to learning and it is within that area that we fail – miserably. The sad fact is that as a country we are experts at delegating authority and responsibility – let whatever problem exists become someone else's problem.
      Within the home environment, parents can choose to stimulate a child's reading and study habits. Parents can and do give assistance in understanding concepts. Parents can direct a child's interests and discuss current events (excluding the exploits of the LIndsay Lohans of the world) or help with projects and writing papers. The list is endless, but it takes time and commitment.
      There was a time in the United States that noone had cell phones i-pads and "On Demand" movies.There was a time when people actually sat down to dinner and encouraged conversation and then had study times. The cold hard facts are that we now live in a world where various agencies and governmental departments have relieved parents of these responsibilities and that effort will not work regardless of what anyone calls the most recent educational program. One day, I hope that someone will understand that the strength of a nation lies in the strength of each family and without that strength, all governmentally sponsored programs will have no more effect than shoveling sand into the ocean.

      • SMontague says:

        There are very few people willing to admit what you just wrote here. The downfall of the family =the downfall of any stable society. Thank you for daring to write what you did. So few people get it these days!

    10. stevekoko says:

      federal Dept of Education. GET RID OF IT!.

    11. Carol M Kite says:

      Why does this administration, in particular, feel it's necessary to do so much behind closed doors, so much for the promised transparency, which makes one feel there's much hidden therein, perhaps the reason no time is given to become familiar with it before a vote is forced?
      We absolutely need reform to our education, where USA is in excellence across the world, at present is extremely shameful & unecessarily expensive as wasteful spending does nothing toward improvement. The answer is not more government intervention. Surely, there are those with expertise very willing to put their heads together to present their ideas to put remarkable education at the top.

    12. Lloyd Scallan says:

      What ever happened to the rights of each state to set education standards? It went down the tolit with
      so many of our freedoms and liberties granted by our Constitution. The entire DOE is nothing more that another bureaucratic nightmare to not only set teaching standards, but to set the agendas that are taught to our youth. This will futher get Americans, starting with the young, to become accustomed to accepting full government control, i.e. communism. It's all part of the plan!

    13. stevekoko says:

      federal Dept of Education! DUMP IT, we dont need it.

    14. allen says:

      Have you noticed that Old Democrats and Commies live longer, Just look at them.

    15. Jeanne Stotler says:

      We need to educate our children, Not just prepare them for taking a test. I do day care and have several choildren I put on a bus and see after school, they are not being taught American History, geography and barely getting by on math. Penmanship, grammer are also lacking, I spend an hour or more with these kids after school on home work and in discussion about what they are learning, which I must say is not much. Stop the SOL test and teach then test on that.

    16. ThomNJ says:

      The education debacle is a mirror of the medical debacle in this country. Years ago, well-meaning (some of them at least at the time) actively pulled the government into the issues of medicine and education and other things. It was like the camel's nose under the tent. Why is education so screwed up? Because we have lost local community and parental control. Why are medical costs so screwed up? Because medical personnel – many doctors included – embraced government involvement and the insurance companies' takeover of how much and what can be billed, etc.

      In both cases the decisions – the actual decisions being made by the people most affected were taken away from that very group. (cont).

    17. ThomNJ says:


      Now we have a situation where the parents and the patients are quite a bit insulated from the process. Parents are told to shut up and that "we know best" from teacher's unions and the government. Patients are told that costs are high because of excessive care and lawsuits. While that is true, the cause is from the government regulations and over management by the insurance companies. A doctor cannot be a doctor anymore – very few are even allowed to take a blood sample in their offices these days, let alone x-rays or the like. Likewise, teachers are not beholden to the parents. They are beholden to the union and the government.

    18. The Farmer says:

      Having retired from the Public School system 11 years ago I say shut down the Dept. of Ed…..
      And go to single term limits for ALL elected federal office holders, and Judges!!!!!!

    19. msgttbar says:

      John, you may be correct. At what level do you think parents opinions will be heard? Local or Federal? Local school boards are supposed to represent the local populace and should be tuned in to what parents want and need for their kids. Is this always true? Absolutely not, but if it isn't, that is what elections are for. If you are not satisfied with your local school board, run to become a member. Get involved !

    20. Bob Godwin says:

      Will there ever be a day that has a bill to eliminate any of hhe myriad of failed, suffocating federal programs. Just more and more federal control…

    21. J E Houser says:

      Absolutely! The federal government must get out of education. Our founding fathers knew the only route to prosperity was competition. That is why they created independent states – for competition! What are we now pressing forward? SOLIPSISM !

    22. Robert says:

      It must be hell trying to run a school system with the dopes from DC constantly demanding one thing or another. NCLB was a pipe dream of the Chappaquiddick Kid and should be buried in the same grave. Shutting down the Department of Education entirely would be a huge reward to all of the states. Politicians and bureaucrats are a marriage of dimwits and a huge part of all US problems.

    23. Lawrence says:

      Any parents who care about their children and are able should remove them from thr public anti christ schools and teach them at home or in private schools.

      • ThomNJ says:

        Right you are, but a big hurdle to that is the expense of an alternative to public schools. This goes back to being forced to pay school taxes that don't do what one wants. I am really in favor of basically eliminating school taxes (and property taxes in general). While a minimum rate of tax is necessary to run the school's operations and power plant and which could be born by the community as a whole, the parents ought to provide the cash for the education PROVIDED THEY GET TO CHOSE WHERE THE CHILD ATTENDS SCHOOL. A tax deduction or credit needs to be allowed to help make that work, but it would certainly create competiton for those education dollars.

    24. Jane says:

      Do we expect anything different from a completely transparent obama administration??? NOT!!!!!!!

    25. Tim Lewis says:

      How much money would we save, if none of the money to do all of this was never taken off of the taxpayer in the first place. It would be left in the hands of Parents and/or the local schools!

    26. toledofan says:

      One thing is for sure, watching some of the Wall Street Protesters, it's obvious whatever we are paying the teachers at our universities is way too much. If this is what we sending out into the world, kids who can't walk and talk and chew gum at the same time, well, I think you get the picture. No child let behind was a good start at solving some of our educational problems and at least tried to devolp some standards but as political correctness started to creep in and the standards got dumbed down, the process became less effective. The other part of the problem now is that those that are teaching, the majority, are liberals and have been taught by liberals, so, they think their agenda rocks and should be the way of the land. It's sad that we have wasted so much money, time and minds creating a boat load of people who can't even think for themselves.

    27. RetiredEngineer says:

      I strongly agree that Senator Rand is completely right about the bad process, and that ultimately the Dept of education is unconstitutional. But that is unfortunately the wrong problem, certainly not the most urgent one. The education most of our K-12 students gets is abysmal, especially in the inner cities, and most of Obama's policies have made this worse.

      I do have to (however reluctantly) give Obama credit for one very small piece of his re-authorization of NCLB that did some good, called "race to the top". I heartily recommend a book by George Brill entitled Class Warfare. He is an educational journalist who has interviewed the most influential educational reformers and teachers union leaders. It tells the story of how a handful of "moderate democrats" tried (and sometimes succeeded) in improving teaching quality, and how they used Race to the Top (RTTT) as a mechanism for fighting against the worse abuses and actually improving the K-12 system in a few states.

      One thing RTTT does is it uses the possibility that "free money" will be given to them by the federal government, to motivate state governments to push through reforms, often hotly fought by teacher's unions. Never underestimate the effect of well done incentives.

    28. Mark says:

      Amen! And keep the federal government out of education as well as their kitchens! Each state should have the right to expand the education that they KNOW will help and enable their students (the ones they know and are familiar with) to have the best tools to succeed in life. Let individual State Freedom Ring!

    29. Guest says:

      "Ideally, education in a free society would be the responsibility of the parents or the individual or local community, not the government. There is no constitutional prohibition for states or local communities to be involved in education, and up until the mid-twentieth century, education was the resonsibility of the church, the family and the local cummunity.
      In the past sixty years especially, the federal government has become very much involved in financing and directing education at all levels. There is no evidence that quality of education has improved" Ron Paul Liberty Defined page 78

    30. Anne says:

      The Federal Government has no business being in education. The Department of Education should be eliminated. That would also fix this wee problem about NCLB

    31. Rob Hayes says:

      Good piece but I think you have completely misread their understanding of the situation and intentions. The Washington liberal elites believe the system hasn't been pushed far enough yet and they are trying to do so before even more of them are voted out…

    32. Anne1123 says:

      The Federal government does not belong in the education "business". Eliminate the Department of Education and the NCLB problem will be solved, as well as more local control retrieved.

    33. Mike, NC says:

      ESEA, NCLB…the list of both naked and thinly disguised power-grabs, by a less and less truly Federal and more and more actually domineering Central government, goes on and on, and is growing, as such things are also showing and demonstrating how those who create and impose them are ignoring and in effect shredding and trampling the Constitution…specificially yet again in this case and others, the 10th Amendment.

      To wit: (Quoting the 10th Amendment) "The powers not delegated to the United States (meaning not specifically identified and assigned to the Federal Government), nor prohibited by it (the Constitution) to the States, are reserved to the States respectively (meaning each State in the Union), or to the people (meaning as generally or otherwise residing in and reserved by power to the people).

    34. WBP says:

      Education is a field that would profit greatly from competition. School vouchers are the best solution to decades of failure of public education. Even "progressive" politicians, notably Obama himself, send their kids to private schools when they have the chance.

    35. dan mazurek says:

      Dan: Thank God we won the house, I think it would of been alot worse that this Obama rule over everything in our lives is destroying our republic. All republicans and a few on the other side should stop this madness. When we get both houses and the white house back, we should and must repeal most everything that the dems; put into law for the past 15 to 20 years. We need to be at war to save this country! More common sence is needed here, and let the states do it's thing….

    36. Brian Miller says:

      The thrust of the article mirrors the general approach Republicans often take to legislation: "we haven't had time to read it!….It's being rammed down our throats! But this is the legislative process….that's why congress members get paid the big bucks. I find this "we can't read it it time" argument a little specious. Now, for the merits of the bill: from my reading, it actually decreases federal oversight and increases the autonomy states have over education: fewer mandated reports, states can choose whether or not to create teacher evaluation programs. So opponents complained about too much federal control, now they are complaining that too much is being asked of the states. You can't have it both ways.

    37. Jeanne Stotler says:

      I have a suggestion, even if your kids/grandkids are in public school, you can teach them about the history of theis country(no longer taught in school) and geography, this can be done without actually sitting them downan giving a lecture. Take a map, tell them about the countries that no longer exist, what is grown where, tell them how the Indians and the Pilgrams actually got along and how the west was really won, about Lincoln's assination., most of all take them to historic places, let them see the Liberty Bell, North church, Bunker Hill, and Plmouth colony, give them a sense of pride in what we have inherited.

    38. Renny G says:

      They are right on target, "takeover!!" I wonder how long it took to write new laws for NCLB and who was involved. "or is this politicaly classified??

    39. Mike says:

      Education of offspring is in fact and indeed the naturaly and Constitutionally pre-eminent and overruling responsibility and right of parents who conceive and give them birth, followed by family and extended family to whom they delegate, followed by others in community to whom they delegate, and so on perhaps to what (U.S.) Americans call "the states", but not beyond…such as "Federal" or "Central" government and its' efforts and schemes to usurp and otherwise take that authority and control.

      The lessons of nature and human history are too full of and caused to be repeated, including through violence or wars among species including humans, for anything else to be true. So parental authority, control, and reponsibility must be restored to its' natural and Constitutional pre-eminence over and freedom from government, particularly "Federal" or "Central" government and its' "Department of Education", et al, located and based in Washington, D.C.

    40. Al Connelly says:

      You have to wonder how this guy can waffle on so many different issues and still be popular with too many of the masses! This plus the Solyndra and other "green job promises, CLASS, the WALL Street Bail out, Causing american auto makers to re-tool and increase the cost of new autos, illegal gun deals with Mexico, NLRB action against BOEING and moving to allow Unions to organize without a vote call or any notification to the employer, along with several actions that challenge the constitution.

      It is time for an easy to follow trail of tears to be published to the American voting public. Al

    41. Hauptman says:

      Just another VERY good reason to limit the power of the Federal Goverment to the enumerated powers of the Constution. Why are the Feds in education, energy, Housing/urban development, et al???

    42. Clearhead says:

      This is an attempt to destroy an education system that has already BEEN fundamentally destroyed and is presently at rock bottom. A reasonable maxim is "…If it ain't busted, don't fix it…" But for this situation, a better one would be, "…If it's at absolute zero, don't try to cool it anymore…"

    43. Mark Wayne says:

      I have come to the conclusion that all education should be privatized – no more public education. The federal, state and local government could provide tuition assistance to academic achievers who sit for exams showing their comprehension of subjects leading to skills that the region, state, or nation need. Example, farmers, mechanics, architects, engineers, doctors, chemists, scientists, nurses, etc. are important for social and economic well-being and those who show promise in these academic pursuits are granted tuition assistance. Those who want to study things like nitch liberal arts topics can pay their own way. Those with lower academic skills can get assistance for entry into apprentice programs for the more mundane areas such as auto body repair, bricklayer, welding, forklift operator, etc. that are essential to a modern society. And for those who just don't care about an education — well someone has to pick crops, dig ditches, move trash, etc., but they will be competing with illegal border crossers. However, hunger is a great motivator.

    44. Vickie says:

      From Parentalrghts.org-
      In 2005, the U.S. Ninth Circuit “affirm[ed] that the Meyer-Pierce [fundamental parental] right does not extend beyond the threshold of the school door.” They also held that “[p]arents…have no constitutional right…to prevent a public school from providing its students with whatever information it wishes to provide, sexual or otherwise, when and as the school determines that it is appropriate to do so.”
      In 2007, the federal District Court for the district of Massachusetts held that “Parents do have a fundamental right to raise their children. They are not required to abandon that responsibility to the state. [They] may send their children to a private school…. They may also educate their children at home.” So, sending a child to public school is in this paragraph equated to “abandoning your parental rights to the state.”
      In 2008, the Maryland Board of Education announced, “While we recognize the right of parents to direct the education of their children, we must bend their will to the state’s obligation to educate its citizens.”

      While we are distracted by various debates, parental rights are being demolished.

    45. shirlene says:

      None of this bunch is concerned with education all it is no more than the gov.having their finger in just one more pie.Look at all the states that have the lottery and where is that money going NOT for education.They do not want to resolve the problem just like they don't want to solve the drug problem.Washington elite are all a bunch of ill-bred idiots

    46. PrairieHawk says:

      Please return education to the states, the communities, and the parents, where it belongs. If some are horrified that kids might learn that God created the world, I would ask them to balance that against the fact that children will also learn reading, math, basic economics, and history. I don't think they're getting much of any of those things right now.

    47. William R. Barker says:

      Folks… as long as Congress even ACCEPTS the CONCEPT that a bill can be 880 pages…


      Listen. Forget NCLB. Forget partisanism. Forget everything but COMMON SENSE.

      No bill should be larger… longer… have more words in it… than the average American adult can reasonably be expected to read and comprehend in it's entirety.

      The fact that our "representatives" routinely vote on bills they haven't read (or at least haven't read completely and don't understand completely) makes an absolute joke of both "democracy" and "representative government."

    48. John Matthews says:

      It is time to shut down the Dept. of Education and turn it back over to the states. In the 60's California was in the top 10 in education. Now we pray that Alabama does not leave the union, as it would put us in last place.

    49. hermanng says:

      The Federal government has to get out of at least K-12 education, their interference has resulted in America now playing the caboose in the level of primary education of developed nation, the locomotive in the cost of it.

    50. Donna says:

      No bills should be able to be voted on in Congress until it has been read aloud in its entirety on the Congress floor. All Congressmen who vote on the bill must have been in attendance during the entire reading of the bill. No phone calls, texting or other distracting behaviors will be allowed during this reading.

      As far as No Child Left Behind, it was a good idea for George W. Bush to implement this when he was Governor of Texas. because it was within the powers delegated to the state of Texas. It was a very bad idea to implement it when he was President because it went outside the bounds of the limits of power of the Federal Government.

    51. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      No Child Left Behind, if it has to be rewritten, should be done via the front door.

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