Bridenstine: no to NCLB successor

U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine cast a no vote against a new law because it concentrates control over public education in Washington, D.C.

Bridenstine voted against the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which would replace No Child Left Behind. The bill passed 359 to 64.

“ESSA expands the role of the federal government by creating a program for preschool managed by the Department of Health and Human Services and expanding after school programs,” Bridenstine said. “No Child Left Behind was a seriously flawed law that greatly increased federal control of education. I was disappointed that the Every Student Succeeds Act missed the opportunity to return control of our children’s education to where it belongs: states, local school districts and ultimately parents.”

ESSA also maintains several problem facets of current law:

  • It maintains the federal testing burden
  • It requires states to intervene in schools underperforming by federal standards
  • It allows federal education spending to continue to grow
  • It forces states to develop standards that conform with federal guidelines.

“I voted for the House version of this bill because that legislation, while not perfect, moved education policy in the right direction by allowing funding to follow students to the school of their parents’ choice (portability), allowing parents to opt their students out of federally mandated testing, and shortening the timeframe in which Congress must next examine education policy,” Bridenstine said. “ESSA strips these crucial provisions.“I believe that the best education for our children is not one dictated by politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. We should return control of education to those who know the needs of students the best. Therefore, I opposed ESSA.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, wants more federal control of public schools and was a big supporter of ESSA

Cole, chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, claims the bill addresses and repeals the shortfalls of No Child Left Behind, which was signed into law in 2002.

“I am very proud of this bipartisan, bicameral legislation that fixes glaring nationwide problems in our education system that have prevented many students from making the grade,” said Cole. “Without question, education is one of the most important building blocks for success, and access to quality learning directly impacts development and potential.

“While well-intentioned at the time of its passage, No Child Left Behind has clearly led to a decline in learning and academic readiness. I am encouraged by the action taken to correct flaws that have led to gaps in student achievement.

“Certainly, this bill is a major achievement eight years coming and eight years overdue.”

The Conservative Heritage Foundation agrees with Bridenstine and not with Cole.

“The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) would reauthorize ESEA, which has been due for a rewrite since 2007, marking a new period for the law established exactly 50 years ago by President Lyndon B. Johnson,” according to the Heritage Foundation. “The 1,061-page proposal, however, would maintain high levels of spending and dozens of ineffective programs, while creating new programs.

“Any proposal to reauthorize ESEA should include portability for Title I funding – the bulk of spending under the law, designated for low-income school districts – in order to empower poor children to access learning options that work well for them. Proposals should also allow states to completely opt out of the programs under ESEA, through a provision known as A-PLUS (based on the Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success Act), in order to direct dollars to state and local education priorities and limit federal intervention in education. Finally, any reauthorization should streamline programs and end the federal education spending spree. The proposed ESSA does not accomplish these critical policy priorities.”

The foundation also criticized a $250,000,000.00 authorization for expansion of preschool education to be run by the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education.