nclb

Just the Facts: Allowing States to Opt Out of NCLB

American Enterprise Institute’s Max Eden has written a post criticizing our Sentinel Brief on the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, the Student Success Act (H.R. 5). In it, Eden points to a number of perceived inconsistencies in our position.

Claim: On H.R. 5’s extension of NCLB mandates, A-PLUS itself requires “each State…[to] establish and implement a single system of academic standards and academic assessments.”
Eden has apparently not read the Walker-DeSantis A-PLUS amendment that is pending with the Rules Committee, hopefully to be offered to H.R. 5. There is no such requirement for states to set up a testing system.

Claim: On H.R. 5’s lack of program eliminations, A-PLUS itself does not eliminate programs and amounts to mere consolidation.
A-PLUS is a real block grant to states that allows them to bypass federal mandates. True, A-PLUS itself does not eliminate programs, although Heritage Action believes that is an important aspect of any comprehensive education bill, like H.R. 5. A-PLUS is one part of needed education reform.

Claim: On H.R. 5’s mandate of a statewide accountability system, A-PLUS itself has a mandated statewide accountability system of its own.
H.R. 5 requires a much different sort of statewide accountability system that is designed for “interventions to be implemented at the local level for Title I schools the state determines to be poorly performing.” A-PLUS envisions a different accountability system altogether that is simply designed to give parents information about the progress being made in academic achievement. It has nothing to do with intervening in local schools.

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nclb

Reauthorizing No Child Left Behind: The Student Success Act (H.R. 5)

Status: On February 11th, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce passed the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) to reauthorize and reform the No Child Left Behind Act through 2021. A number of misleading claims are being made in the service of passing this bill. Below is a summary of these claims and detailed responses. Heritage Action is opposed to H.R. 5.

CLAIM: H.R. 5 replaces the current national accountability system with state-led accountability systems, freeing the states from federal interference.

FACT: Although the proposal wisely eliminates counterproductive and prescriptive Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) mandates, H.R. 5 maintains the current NCLB mandates for states to establish standards in reading and math and to test kids annually between grades 3-8 and once in high school. H.R. 5 orders that academic achievement standards “include the same knowledge, skills, and levels of achievement expected of all public school students in the state.” States must also use “the same academic assessments…to measure the academic achievement of all public school students in the state.” Taken together, these twin mandates direct the state to establish a single uniform assessment, limiting the ability of local schools to determine their own curriculum. Experts agree a well-rounded education is in the best interests of the child and that NCLB has damaged the ability of local school districts to set locally-driven curriculum that reflects the desires of families in their communities. The mandates in H.R. 5 perpetuate this problem.

Read the entire Heritage Action Sentinel Brief.

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NCLB Reauthorization Proposals: Missed Opportunities for Conservatives

To:              Interested Parties
From:        Heritage Action for America
Date:          February 11, 2015
Subject:     NCLB Reauthorization Proposals: Missed Opportunities for Conservatives

As the House and Senate consider a reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, lawmakers should not let the opportunity pass to advance a bold conservative vision for education policy. For far too long, the federal government’s expansive reach into education has gone unchecked. Now is the time for Congress to restore federalism in education, empower parents and students instead of bureaucrats and unions, and remove archaic obstacles that have prevented true opportunity for all.

Moving forward, there are five principled criteria that Congress should meet in any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). These include the following:

Read the entire memo.

 

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Don’t Blink on Fight to Stop Obama’s Executive Amnesty

To:               Interested Parties
From:         Heritage Action for America
Date:           February 11, 2015
Subject:      Don’t Blink on Fight to Stop Obama’s Executive Amnesty

Three times this month, Senate Democrats filibustered the motion to proceed to the House-passed Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill (H.R. 240). It has been an impressive display of unity by the Democrats considering at least seven expressed concern over President Obama’s wideranging executive amnesty. With just 17 days before DHS funding expires, House and Senate Republicans must deliver a single, unified message:

President Obama and Senate Democrats are willing to deny border patrol agents their paychecks to ensure illegal immigrants get Social Security numbers.

Inexplicably, the ability to deliver such a message has been diluted because Republicans allowed Senate Democrats to hijack the legislative process and President Obama to exercise a de facto veto over congressional action.

Dangerous Precedent

Senate Democrats had their obstructionism validated on Tuesday when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters the Senate was “stuck” and “the next step is obviously up to the House.” By refusing to participate in the process at crucial junctures, Senate Democrats are trying to leverage their minority status to exert control over the debate and dictate policy outcomes in the Republican-controlled Congress. Allowing these obstructionist tactics to succeed will reduce the role Senate Republicans play in future debates as it allows the minority in one chamber to dictate terms to both.

Read the entire memo.

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Why America needs the Transportation Empowerment Act

The Transportation Empowerment Act would empower states by allowing them to keep and control their gasoline tax revenues, set their infrastructure priorities, control their transportation decisions, and partner with the private sector to meet local needs.

Currently, American motorists and truckers pay a federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon at the pump; the money is funneled into the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and funneled back to the states via complex congressional formulas, and billions are diverted each year to programs that do not improve congestion.  The current system increases the cost of projects — Davis-Bacon, for example, increases the cost of construction projects by ten percent — and subjects what should be local decisions to the whims of Washington bureaucrats or influential lobbyists.

Put another way, the federal government serves as little more than an expensive pass through for the remainder of transportation funding – one could compare it to a skimming scheme that enriches and empowers folks in Washington to the detriment of those in state capitals across the country.  The states and private sector have proven more efficient users of taxpayer money, while the federal government through the Highway Trust Fund has wasted an unjustifiable amount of money through inefficiency, burdensome regulations, and distracting politicization—not to mention paying for the pet projects of lawmakers and special interests.

Not only is this legislation necessary if lawmakers want to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of transportation spending, but it is also timely.  The original purpose of the HTF was to construct the interstate highway system, which was considered complete in the early 1990s.  But since then, Congresses—lobbied by special interests—have broadened its mission to cover “transit, environmental mitigation, ferry boats, bicycle paths, and nature trails,” which do not benefit those who pay for the program.  The Heritage Foundation also notes:

“The combination of overspending, inflation, increased vehicle fuel efficiency, and effects of the recession on gasoline consumption in recent years have caused funding shortfalls in the HTF. Rather than address its overspending problem, Congress chose to shore up the HTF with tens of billions of dollars in general fund cash transfers—an imprudent and unsustainable quick fix that worsens federal deficits.” 

This is an unsustainable course of action, which is why Congress is considering yet another bailout of the Highway Trust Fund.  What’s more, the Congressional Budget Office estimates another $167 billion in bailouts will be necessary over the next decade.  As a result, many states are “responding to the fiscal uncertainties in Washington,” transportation export Ken Orski recently noted:

“Surveys by the American Road and Builders Association (ARTBA), the National Council of State Legislatures and AASHTO and  have documented transportation-related revenue initiatives in 27 states.

“In turning to long-term credit to finance costly construction projects, states are following in the footsteps of  the private sector. All of the nation’s privately owned infrastructure— railroads, pipelines, telecommunications networks, power plants and refineries— are funded with loaned capital.” 

The Transportation Empowerment Act would allow each state to keep this so-called “federal money — which represents just one-quarter of all highway and transit spending — in their states and use them in ways they deem appropriate.  It would also provide states relief from federal regulations, allowing the money to go further so that they could put local priorities first and fund projects that provide congestion relief, capacity expansion, and enhanced mobility.

Heritage Action supports the Transportation Empowerment Act.

 

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