It’s not easy for the average family to ensure that their child receives a quality education. And the federal government is not making it any easier.
How does the Federal Government make it hard? We read:
When kids start school, families often have little choice over where they can go. Sometimes, children are forced into a failing school simply because their parents live in a certain district and that school is the only option.
Ah, kids may be forced to attend public schools for lack of choice. That’s one way.
Then, schools are bogged down by federal bureaucracy and one-size-fits-all national standards. This centralized approach results in programs and standards that don’t work for everyone and can distract teachers’ focus from what matters: teaching.
So, National Standards are a problem. That’s another way.
It’s no wonder that despite the 2.7 million students already enrolled at charter schools, another 1 million kids remained on waiting lists for such schools last year.
Then charter schools must be the answer. Evidently any school called a charter school is guaranteed success. What evidence supports that view, one wonders?
Outside of the family, education is the greatest determinant of social mobility. Yet for decades, Washington has attempted to fix our education system with more centralization, more bureaucratic control, and more tax-and-spend gimmicks, all yielding the same sad results.
The House has a different plan. This week, we will focus on expanding equal opportunity in education through two bills: the Student Success Act and a bill to improve and expand 529 college savings plans (H.R.529 – Savings Enhancement for Education in College Act).
To improve access to high-quality education before college, the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), authored by Chairman John Kline (R., Minn.) of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, takes control away from the federal government and puts it back in the hands of the states and local schools.
States’ rights–Oklahoma can teach American History as they wish.
First, the SSA expands America’s already-successful charter school system and allows federal funds to follow low-income students to the public school of their parents’ choice, not the school dictated by district lines.
Public funding for private schools; who would have thought Republicans would like that idea. The proposed charter school for Elmira has an unelected board. That is the antithesis of local control.
Second, the bill consolidates more than 65 duplicative and unnecessary programs into a single Local Academic Flexibility Grant that lets schools apply resources according to individual student needs.
Block grants give States and Localities money to spend as they wish.
Third, it preserves state and local autonomy by barring the Secretary of Education from forcing states to accept national academic standards like Common Core, and replaces federal school accountability schemes, including “Adequate Yearly Progress,” with state-led accountability systems that empower parents and local education leaders.
Funding without standards or accountability.
To reduce the college debt burden and promote a culture of saving, the House also passed a bill by Representative Lynn Jenkins (R., Kan.) to improve and expand tax-free 529 college savings plans.
H.R. 529 affects a few percent of Americans, mostly wealthy people. Tom Reed supports this bill. Reed writes:
Despite President Obama’s assertion that 529 plans only benefit the wealthy, the Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that 85% of accounts are owned by families earning under $250,000, and 52% by families earning under $100,000. This is a fair solution that will benefit every family saving for a child’s higher education.
Note that “every family saving for a child’s higher education” isn’t quite the same as “every family.” It is more like “wealthy families using the 529 tax provision.”
Real education reform starts with taking power out of Washington’s hands and giving it back to the people. That means school choice. That means local control. That means more college savings and less college debt.
Rep. McCarthy is the peoples’ representative in Washington. It seems strange that he has so much faith in others and so little in his fellow Representatives and in himself.
To get that done, we just need President Obama to get on board.
Rep. McCarthy, like Rep. Reed, delights in telling just his side of the story. President Obama has suggested he will veto H.R. 5 saying it is a step backwards. Some Republicans want to retreat even further from education reform by repudiating and defunding No Child Left Behind.
© William Hungerford – February 2015