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SURPRISE! Thousand-Page Education-Funding Bill Passes U.S. House

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A 1,061-page rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which is better known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), suddenly popped up in the House on Monday and was voted on late Wednesday, passing 359-64. All 64 “no” votes were cast by Republicans.

At over 1,000 pages, S. 1177, the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) [also known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)], like Obamacare, was too lengthy to read and digest in just two days, and yet House Republicans rammed it forward despite Paul Ryan’s prior assurances that as House speaker he would provide voters ample time to read bills prior to votes.

On November 19, Erin Tuttle, writing for the non-partisan Truth in American Education argued that Americans are entitled to read this bill before the vote:

Because the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind) will be the largest piece of federal education legislation Congress will pass in over a decade, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) should allow the bill to be made publicly available for at least 60 days before the House considers it.

The bill is not scheduled to be made publicly available until November 30th. Thus, a vote should not be scheduled until late January. Currently, it is scheduled for December 2; two days is clearly not sufficient. House members will be forced to vote on a bill they haven’t read.

The American people expected a new style of leadership under Speaker Ryan, not more of the same. If he allows a bill of this magnitude to become law without adequately vetting its merits and faults, it will affirm that the same ills that plagued Congress under Speaker Boehner remain fully intact.

Illinois voters may be interested to learn that U.S. Senator Mark Kirk voted for the Senate version of this bill last July.

Illinois voters may also be interested to learn that U.S. Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio voted against it.

ECAA includes some positive changes in terms of diminishing the role of the federal government in state education business, such as eliminating onerous Adequate Yearly Progress mandates. That said, there are serious problems with the bill, including the following change explained by Education Week:

[S]tate accountability systems would be required to include “not less than one indicator of school quality or student success that allows for meaningful differentiation in school performance and is valid, reliable, comparable, and statewide, which may include measures of – (I) Student engagement; (II) Educator engagement; (III) Student access to and completion of advanced coursework; (IV) Postsecondary readiness; (V) School climate and safety; and (VI) any other indicator the state chooses that meets the requirements of this clause.”

These criteria or measurements are troubling for several reasons:

  • Several are woefully ambiguous.
  • Several are difficult to measure and would be based on subjective responses.
  • Evaluation of “School climate and safety” would surely be based at least partly on subjective responses by students and would likely be used to justify further school involvement in controversial political school-sponsored activities related to homosexuality and gender dysphoria.

Another troubling aspect of ECAA is its involvement with pre-kindergarten programs. Under Title IX, ECAA authorizes $250 million for a new federal preschool program to be administered by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education. This massive expenditure of money the government does not have is being made despite the fact that many scholars like Grover Whitehurst at the Brookings Institution doubt the efficacy of pre-kindergarten programs:

The best available evidence raises serious doubts that a large public investment in the expansion of pre-k for four-year-olds will have the long-term effects that advocates tout.

This initiative requires that preschool curricula align with Head Start (which is administered through HHS). Few are aware that since 2012 Head Start has been quietly working to align its standards with Common Core, which explains why some are calling ECAA “Baby Common Core.”

If you’re not troubled yet by the prospect of Big Brother poking his proboscis through the preschool door, perhaps this excerpt from a Head Start document will illuminate some of the goals Head Start has for our nation’s disadvantaged little ones:

Last month the Early Head Start National Resource Center hosted a conversation with key stakeholders to explore how lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) families are being served by Early Head Start programs….Stakeholders included program and parent representatives, federal staff, Head Start training and technical assistance representatives, and experts from the LGBT community….what do welcoming Head Start/Early Head Start programs look like?

The group brainstormed ideas of what a welcoming program looks like. And some of the characteristics of welcoming programs include:

  • Welcoming symbols for LGBT families such as  the rainbow flag or equality stickers, and diverse images of parents and families in marketing materials
  • Inclusive intake and enrollment forms that are not specific about the gender of parents and caregivers
  • Partnerships with organizations that help LGBT families get information and support that they need

Is this the organization Americans want to receive more tax dollars?

ECAA does not allow Title I funds to be portable, thus limiting school choice for parents.

ECAA does not include an Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success (A-PLUS) provision that would have allowed states to opt out of programs that fall under ECAA and instead direct money in ways that best serve their state’s needs.

ECAA neither eliminates wasteful, inefficacious, and duplicative programs, nor reduces spending, nor establishes funding limits.

So, who loves this bill? The National Governor’s Association, which gave us Common Core; the Third Way, a center-left think tank; the Center for American Progress, a leftist public policy and advocacy group; the National Education Association; and President Obama.

Who dislikes this bill? Heritage Action, a conservative grassroots activist organization that deems a vote forECAA to be a “key vote,” that will be reported on the lawmaker’s legislative record.

All that remains is for President Obama to sign it into law, which he has promised he will.


How Did Illinois’ Congressional Delegation Vote?

The ECAA passed late yesterday afternoon in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 359 to 64.  Democrats voted 181 to 0. Republicans voted 179 to 64.  Unfortunately, our Illinois Congressional Delegation voted unanimously in favor of this intrusive, immoral, big government bill.

Voting Results:

Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D)YEA
1st Congressional Dist.
Washington Phone: (202) 225-4372
District Phone: (773) 224-6500
Webform

Rep. Robin Kelly (D)YEA
2nd Congressional Dist.
Washington Phone: (202) 225-0773
District Phone: (708) 679-0078
Webform

Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D)YEA
3rd Congressional Dist.
Washington Phone: 202-225-5701
District Phone: 312-886-0481
Webform

Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D)YEA
4th Congressional Dist.
Washington Phone: (202) 225-8203
District Phone: (773) 342-0774
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Rep. Mike Quigley (D)YEA
5th Congressional Dist.
Washington Phone: (202) 225-4061
District Phone: (773) 267-5926
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Rep. Peter Roskam (R)YEA
6th Congressional Dist.
Washington Phone: (202) 225-4561
District Phone: (630) 232-7393
Webform

Rep. Danny K. Davis (D)YEA
7th Congressional Dist.
Washington Phone: (202)225-5006
District Phone: (773) 533-7520
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Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D)YEA
8th Congressional Dist.
Washington Phone: (202) 225-3711
District Phone: (847) 413-1959
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Rep. Janice D. Schakowsky (D)YEA
9th Congressional Dist.
Washington Phone: (202) 225-2111
District Phone: (773) 506-7100
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Rep. Bob Dold (R)YEA
10th Congressional Dist.
Washington Phone: (202) 225-4835
District Phone: (847) 793-8400
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Rep. Bill Foster (D)YEA
11th Congressional Dist.
Washington Phone: (202) 225-3515
District Phone: (630) 585-7672
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Rep. Mike Bost (D)YEA
12th Congressional Dist.
Washington Phone: (202) 225-5661
District Phone: (618)-233-8026
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Rep. Rodney Davis (R)YEA
13th Congressional Dist.
Washington Phone: (202) 225-2371
District Phone: (217) 791-6224
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Rep. Randy Hultgren (R)YEA
14th Congressional Dist.
Washington Phone: (202) 225-2976
District Phone: (630) 584-2734
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Rep. John Simkus (R)YEA
15th Congressional Dist.
Washington Phone: (202) 225-5271
District Phone: (217) 347-7947
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Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R)YEA
16th Congressional Dist.
Washington Phone: (202) 225-3635
District Phone: (815) 708-8032
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Rep. Cheri Bustos (D)YEA
17th Congressional Dist.
Washington Phone: (202) 225-5905
District Phone: (309) 966-1813
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Rep. Darin LaHood (R)YEA
18th Congressional Dist.
Washington Phone: (202) 225-6201
District Phone: (309) 671-7027
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