Sunday, July 12, 2015

Minnesota Reactionary John Kline Manages To Reauthorize Hated "No Child Left Behind"


Everybody hates No Child Left Behind, right? (Except Jeb!, whose family has made a fortune off it.) Democrats hate it, and most Republicans say they hate it. But it was reauthorized-- albeit with the narrowest of votes, 218-213-- on Wednesdsay. 

Twenty-seven Republicans bucked their party leadership and voted against the bill introduced and pushed down America's throat by the most anti-education chairman of the Education Committee in American history, John Kline of Minnesota. His misleadingly titled "Student Success Act" drove a diverse segment of Republicans running across the aisle, from libertarians like Justin Amash (R-MI), Thomas Massie (R-KY), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) to right-wing extremists like Jody Hice (R-GA), Ron De Santis (R-FL), Ken Buck (R-CO) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX) to mainstream conservatives like Chris Gibson (R-NY) and Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ).

Kline had to call on Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to help him force Republicans to back this bill, which is hated by parents and teachers everywhere across the country and which they had already failed to pass earlier in the year because of massive GOP opposition. Wednesday's roll call was facing defeat too until McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise sent out the GOP whip team to twist arms and get weak-minded Republicans to change their votes and betray their constituents. 

Boehner couldn't even deliver a single one of his pet Blue Dogs or New Dems on this, not even Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), Patrick Murphy (FL), Collin Peterson (MN), Henry Cuellar (TX), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY), Gwen Graham (FL), or Brad Ashford (NE), the absolute bottom of the Democratic barrel, all more likely to vote with Boehner than with Pelosi. But not this time.
Conservative lawmakers had pushed for the adoption of several amendments allowing schools to opt out of No Child Left Behind requirements. Only one of those amendments, from Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), was adopted, with lawmakers voting 251-178 to allow parents to exempt their children from testing.

“Parents are becoming increasingly fed up with such constant and onerous testing requirements, as well as the teachers,” Salmon said during floor debate.

A separate proposal from Reps. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) and Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) would have allowed states to opt out of No Child Left Behind and still receive federal funding. That amendment failed 195-235, as 49 Republicans aligned with Democrats to defeat it.

...The 2002 No Child Left Behind law, which included a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), expired in 2007. Congress has not passed legislation to extend it since then.

Since 2011, the Obama administration has been issuing waivers from No Child Left Behind in response to demands from governors and school districts.

Both the House and Senate bills prohibit the Department of Education from exerting control over state academic standards. The provisions would apply to Common Core, which establishes English and math standards for all grade levels through high school.

On the left, civil rights groups are objecting to a provision in the House bill that they fear will deprive schools with low-income populations of adequate funding. The measure would allow federal funds provided to high-poverty localities to “follow” students who transfer to another school, even if they enroll in a wealthier school that doesn’t have as tight a budget.

Democrats said the amendments allowing states to opt out of No Child Left Behind heightened their concerns that disadvantaged students would be shortchanged.

“The amendment would literally let states just take the money and run,” said Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), the top Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee.

The revolt from conservatives and unanimous opposition from Democrats stands in contrast to the original 2002 law, which was hailed as a major bipartisan compromise between Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), then the chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), and President George W. Bush.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is the only Republican running for president in 2016 who supports Common Core. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who once endorsed the standards, announced this year that his state would eliminate them.
One of the confused, waffling Republicans who was running around like a chicken without a head during the debate was Antelope Valley sad sack Steve Knight, the only L.A. congressman to vote to reauthorize No Child Left Behind, which is hated in Simi Valley, Santa Clarita and the Antelope Valley. His main opponent for the seat, former U.S. Marine and L.A.P.D. officer Lou Vince was astounded to see Knight betray the community.
I firmly believe that a solid educational foundation is the most important gift we can bestow upon a child. A good public education sets a child up to succeed in the future and live a good life. No Child Left Behind is a flawed piece of legislation that has proven time and time again that it does not further our children's education in a meaningful way. Congressman Knight's vote sets him apart as he is the only member of Los Angeles' congressional delegation who voted in favor of this bad piece of legislation. As the Congressman of the 25th District, I would work tirelessly to prioritize the interests of our families and of our children in order to ensure that every child has a right to good, solid public education. No one deserves better than our children.
Angie Craig is the progressive Democrat taking on Kline in the southeast Minnesota district he's been misrepresenting for so long. She's making genuine education reform a major plank of her platform. Right after Kline's bill eked out its narrow win on Wednesday, she issued this statement:
Everyone agrees that federal education policy is in urgent need of reform and John Kline was tasked with reforming No Child Left Behind with the Student Success Act. Sadly, the bill he wrote, and the House passed today, was less reform and more giveaway to the radical conservative fringes of his party.

The bill not only maintains the excessive focus on standardized tests, but also eliminates much needed accountability and action to lift up struggling schools. Even worse, Kline’s bill included a voucher-lite 'portability' program that could lead the federal government to move millions of dollars in school funding from the neediest schools to the wealthiest. Even as he attempts to move federal funds away from the schools that need them most, Kline’s bill locks in devastating cuts to those same resources for public schools.

If John Kline and the extreme right wing of his party are not going to fund our public schools and invest in students and teachers, the least they could do is to protect the students while they’re in the classroom. Unfortunately, the Student Success Act doesn’t include provisions, such as those introduced by Sen. Al Franken in the Senate, from the Student Non-Discrimination Act, which would codify anti-discrimination protections for LGBT students in to law.

In his attempt to appease radical conservative attempts to cripple federal education policy, John Kline has failed our students, teachers, and families. We can and must do better.
UPDATE: Congress' Education Big Mistake

Los Angeles Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) explained his vote a little after the fact-- but it is well worth playing close attention to: "I am a strong believer that every child, no matter their zip code or background, should have an equal opportunity to succeed. Unfortunately, HR 5, the poorly named Student Success Act, does not achieve this goal. The bill cruelly takes away money from students most in need. For instance, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) would lose around one fourth of its funding under this bill, due to the Title I portability provision, despite the fact that LAUSD has a poverty rate of 70%. I also find the reduction in funding for students with disabilities extremely short-sighted and downright mean."

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At 10:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I take it Debbie Wassermann wasn't paid enough to vote "aye".

At 8:44 PM, Blogger Minnesota Central said...

It should be mentioned that of the 49 Republicans who joined the Democrats to defeat the Walker amendment (roll call 419) was Chairman John Kline. In fact, Chairman Kline was able to convince Members of his Education committee to vote in opposition to this amendment :
Joe Wilson, Virginia Foxx, Glenn Thompson, Todd Rokita, Joe (I wanna be a Senator) Heck, Steve Russell, Carlos Curbelo, and Elise Stefanik.

It should be noted that the "five minute electronic vote" on the final bill actually took ten minutes as when the clock struck "0:00" left, Chairman Kline's bill was a loser ... but the arm-twisting ended up taking a six vote loss to a five vote victory.

Here's what we know ... this is a loser bill ... Chairman Kline just needed something to take to a Conference Committee. Remember that Chairman Kline's original bill was approved with zero Democrat support ... contrast that with the Senate version which was approved by the committee 22-0.

Yes, Chairman Kline was able to pass a bill ... with minor changes (cutting the life of the bill from six years to four [so President Trump can reform education in 2019] but also was able to defeat amendments that would have addressed dropout prevention, the use of seclusion and restraints and funding for Special Education.

All that said, it should be noted that the House Appropriations Committee has approved a funding bill for next year that cuts the Department of Education by $2.8 billion (even though it adds monies for charter schools) ... so in every way this was a waste of time ... a bill that has no chance of being enacted backed up by cuts to funding that are not addressed in the bill.


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