According to reports, lawmakers have reached an agreement to reauthorize the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law for four years. In December 2014, The Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke put forward four crucial benchmarks for any NCLB overhaul:
- enable states to completely opt out of the programs that fall under No Child Left Behind;
- eliminate programs and reduce spending;
- eliminate all the burdensome federal mandates; and,
- provide states the option of full Title 1 portability.
Those reports, confirmed by “a GOP aide who participated in the negotiations,” suggest the pre-conferenced agreement falls short on each and every requirement. Additionally, Education Week reports the House’s testing opt-out language – a priority for many conservative lawmakers – was abandoned:
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.
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.
This week, the Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey M. Burke deftly dismantled an argument by Politico reporter Stephanie Simon that since some private schools teach that God created the world, everyone should oppose vouchers.
Simon takes issue specifically with schools teaching Creationism or intelligent design. She states:
Decades of litigation have established that public schools cannot teach creationism or intelligent design. But private schools receiving public subsidies can — and do.
She goes on to broadly detail how terrible many private school curricula are, using their coursework as the basis of her argument against school choice and the use of public funds for vouchers.
The school choice movement has an excellent track record for improving students’ academic outcomes and increasing parental satisfaction, but the same cannot be said for the public school system and the federal government’s Common Core. The Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey M. Burke expounds upon the findings of myriad studies demonstrating the positive effects of school choice on students’ academic outcomes both in voucher programs and in public schools.