"But if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by...any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward [district], it is a belief against all experience." --Thomas Jefferson

Monday, November 30, 2015

ESEA Reauthorization: Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

Please call Congress 202-224-3121 and ask them all to Vote No on the reauthorization of ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act).  It will take 2 minutes.  Are your parental rights worth 2 minutes?

Today, Monday, November 30, Congress will release the language of the reconciled* No Child Left Behind reauthorization. So many of us are frustrated with the level of federal overreach in No Child Left Behind that we can't wait to have Congress get rid of it. However, in our zeal to throw out the bad, we are trading bad for worse...and Congress is doing it be taking shortcuts in the transparency and public involvement part of the process. 

Before Thanksgiving, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) called out the reconciliation process saying:
“So, from the surface it will still look like the conference process is happening, is unfolding in the manner in which it is supposed to, but beneath the surface we know that all of this has already been prearranged, precooked, predetermined by a select few Members of Congress working behind closed doors free from scrutiny, and we know this vote was scheduled on extremely short notice so it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the rest of us to influence the substance of the conference report through motions to instruct.”
This bill is going to be at least 1000 pages long, based on the two versions of the bill that have already passed.  The vote in the House is probably scheduled for Dec. 2.  That keeps changing.  But there's no way to read and study 1000 pages and then vote, all the while receiving and considering the input of your constituents all in 2-days' time.  For no other reason, they should vote no.  I was told by my then-state representative that he was often the only Nay vote on some apparently 'decent' bills.  However, if you don't have the time to read and study and understand the implications of what you are imposing on people through the force of law, it is your duty to vote NO.  If representatives would consistently vote no by default, we would start to see them (and us) get much more time to review bills and to fully study and learn about them.

This bill claims to get rid of Common Core and the process whereby the US Dept of Ed (USDOE) coerced states into adopting Common Core.  Common Core was adopted by having the USDOE establish a program stating that you get 'more points' for college and career ready standards common to a significant number of states and then clarify that significant number means 15, which then leads states to the ONLY set of standards that meet those qualifications, i.e. Common Core.  Now, the Secretary is prohibited from giving direction on what he would like to see in a state's plan.  However, he can still veto a state's plan.  So, at some point, the state will find a way to find out what the Secretary WILL actually approve, and that will be some other subset of national standards and testing that the Secretary wants to see implemented in the states.  It changes the process from the Secretary directly saying what he wants from the states, to the states playing "Mother, May I?" with the USDOE. 

"USDOE, may we adopt our own science standards?"  Rejected.

"USDOE, may we adopt the Next Generation Science Standards that are not Common Core but were developed by the same group that gave us Common Core?"  Approved

The bill also expands the federal footprint into Preschool.  It's not enough that they are controlling K-12 education, now we need to allow them input into Preschool, as well.

Testing is still required at 95%.  So, even thought Utah has an opt out law that prohibits negative consequences from parents opting their kids out of state testing, the opt-out amendment passed in the House didn't make it into the reconciled version.  So, states will have to develop their own punishments for those schools who have more than 5% opt out.  Does that sound like support for parental rights and increased freedom?

Please call Congress 202-224-3121 and ask them all to Vote No, including the new Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, who promised greater transparency.  Let's hold him to this!


  • Phone: 202-224-3121, ask for whichever representatives you'd like
  • Rep. Jason Chaffetz: (202) 225-7751, (801) 851-2500
  • Rep. Mia Love: (202) 225-3011, 801-996-8729
  • Rep. Rob Bishop: 202-225-0453, 801-625-0107, 435-734-2270
  • Rep. Chris Stewart: 202-225-9730, 801-364-5550, 435-627-1500
  • Sen. Mike Lee: 202-224-5444, 801-524-5933
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch: (202) 224-5251, (801) 375-7881

  • Bill Language Read-a-thon: If you are willing to take a portion of the bill, when it comes out today, to read it and report, please contact me.  A group of us, nationally, are making sure that some of us have read the bill before it's voted on.

More references:

  • Letter from many national groups, including 3 of us on the Alpine School Board--myself, Paula Hill, and Brian Halladay--detailing the overreach that exists in the House and Senate versions of this ESEA reauthorization.  http://bit.ly/1Lj6uz5#sthash.YLc0t0ki.dpuf

*Bill Process Primer.  The House and the Senate each passed bills modifying the existing No Child Left Behind 'law', which was just an extension of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), originally passed in 1965.  Because the language in both versions of these bills is different, a conference committee gets together to reconcile the differences between the two bills.  Then, the House and Senate vote on the reconciled language, and that is what is sent to the President for his signature to become a law. 

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