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Student Success Act is a trap

By   /   February 25, 2015  /   No Comments

IT’S A TRAP: The Student Success Act suckers states into surrendering sovereignty on schools.

By Steve Mac Donald | Watchdog Arena

The Student Success Act (HR5) working its way through the U.S. House is a trap.

HR5 is being sold as legislation that will “support State and local accountability for public education, protect State and local authority, inform parents of the performance of their children’s schools, and for other purposes.”  But if this bill becomes law and your state legislature accepts the money, state and local authority are sacrificed to the diktats of the Department of Education.

Below, I have some pertinent sections of the bill. Bolded parts are my emphasis.

‘‘Subpart 4—Restoration of State Sovereignty Over  Public Education and Parental Rights Over the Education of Their Children

‘‘SEC. 6561. STATES TO RETAIN RIGHTS AND AUTHORITIES THEY DO NOT EXPRESSLY WAIVE.

‘‘(a) RETENTION OF RIGHTS AND AUTHORITIES.—No officer, employee, or other authority of the Secretary shall enforce against an authority of a State, nor shall any authority of a State have any obligation to obey, any requirement imposed as a condition of receiving assistance under a grant program established under this Act, nor shall such program operate within a State, unless the legislature of that State shall have by law expressly approved that program and, in doing so, have waived the State’s rights and authorities to act inconsistently with any requirement that might be imposed by the Secretary as a condition of receiving that assistance.

How does your legislature waive the states’ rights and authorities to the imposed will of the secretary?

‘‘(b) AMENDMENT OF TERMS OF RECEIPT OF FEDERAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE.—An officer, employee, or other authority of the Secretary may release assistance under a grant program established under this Act to a State only after the legislature of the State has by law expressly approved the program (as described in subsection  (a)).  This approval may be accomplished by a vote to affirm a State budget that includes the use of such Federal funds and any such State budget must expressly include any requirement imposed as a condition of receiving assistance under a grant program established under this Act so that by approving the budget, the State legislature is expressly approving the grant program and, in doing so, waiving the State’s rights and authorities to act inconsistently with any requirement that might be imposed by the Secretary as a condition of receiving that assistance.

“If you like your state and local control, you can keep your state and local control?”

Here is a great article on HR5 that also questions the sketchy language regarding the autonomy of private and religious schools.  NH Education expert Ann Marie Banfield points out references in Sec 1001 that suggest this bill would force all schools to align with Common Core.

Sec. 1001. Statement of Purpose

“The purpose of this title is to provide all children the opportunity to graduate high school prepared for postsecondary education or the workforce.”

To fulfill the purpose of this act, or submit a plan that meets the intended purpose of this act, a state technically would have to align their standards and assessments to the Common Core. In the state applications for Race to the Top and in NCLB waivers, state post-secondary institutions made assurances that the Common Core standards and assessments would be used to place students into entry-level courses without remediation, thus prepared for college or careers.

There are even ombudsmen, paid bureaucratic interlopers, to ensure private and religious school compliance to all facets of the legislation.

Advocates will point to language that suggests a hands-off approach by Congress, but the above quoted sections, which appear near the end of the more than 600 page piece of legislation, blow that presumption to pieces.

If your state legislature votes to pass a budget or votes to accept funding for any purpose under The Student Success Act, everyone, from the state school board, to local boards, to districts, teachers, parents, and students will be bound to obey the will imposed by the federal government. HR5 turns your state into an education vassal of the federal overlords.

States will have five years after singing on before the Secretary of Education swings the hammer down.  Five years is more than enough time for budgets to become so reliant on the additional funding that they will find it almost impossible to back out.

It’s a trap.

This article was written by a contributor of Watchdog Arena, Franklin Center’s network of writers, bloggers, and citizen journalists. 

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Steve MacDonald is a blogger and editor at GraniteGrok.com. He is also the producer and co-host of the weekly political podcast GrokTALK! and is involved with a number of local grassroots groups including the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers and the New Hampshire Conservative Majority Project.