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Reduce the Federal Footprint in America's Classrooms

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 12:00am

The current K-12 education system is failing our students, and state and local attempts to make it better have been hampered by an enormous federal footprint. Parents and education leaders have lost much of their decision-making authority to Washington bureaucrats, and the Secretary of Education has bullied states into adopting the Obama administration’s pet projects.

Unsurprisingly, student achievement levels remain worrisome – just 36 percent of eighth grade students read at grade level and only 35 percent are proficient in math.

For far too long, our schools have been governed by a top-down approach that stymies state and local efforts to meet the unique needs of their student populations. We can’t continue to make the same mistakes and expect better results; America’s students deserve change.

Fortunately, this week, the House of Representatives has an opportunity to chart a new course with the Student Success Act, legislation that reduces the federal footprint in the nation’s classrooms and restores control to the people who know their students best: parents, teachers and local leaders.

The Student Success Act gets Washington out of the business of running schools. It protects state and local autonomy by prohibiting the Secretary of Education from coercing states into adopting Common Core or any other common standards or assessments, and by preventing the Secretary from creating additional burdens on states and school districts.

The bill reduces the size of the federal education bureaucracy. Currently, the Department of Education oversees more than 80 programs geared towards primary and secondary education, most of which are duplicative and fail to deliver adequate results for students. The bill eliminates over 65 of these programs and requires the Secretary of Education to reduce the department’s workforce accordingly.

The Student Success Act repeals onerous, one-size-fits-all mandates that dictate accountability, teacher quality, and local spending that have done more to tie up states and school districts in red tape than to support education efforts. It returns responsibility for classroom decisions to parents, teachers, administrators, and education officials.

The bill also provides states and school districts the funding flexibility to efficiently and effectively invest limited taxpayer dollars to boost student achievement by creating a Local Academic Flexible Grant.

Finally, the Student Success Act reforms the regulatory process to keep the Secretary of Education from exercising authority he does not have and provide the public with greater transparency and accountability over the development of new rules affecting K-12 schools.

Education is a deeply personal issue. After years of the Secretary of Education running schools through executive fiat, we understand that people are concerned about what a new K-12 education law will do. That is why a number of key principles have guided our efforts to replace the law since we began the process more than four years ago: reducing the federal footprint, restoring local control, and empowering parents and education leaders.

Those principles are reflected throughout the legislation, including specific safeguards that protect the right of states to opt-out of the law, as well as the autonomy of home schools, religious schools, and private schools. Organizations such as the Council for American Private Education, the Home School Legal Defense Association, and Committee on Catholic Education of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops have expressed support for policies in the Student Success Act because they know it will keep the federal government out of their business and preserve their cherished rights.

A host of administration bureaucrats is attempting to defeat these much-needed changes. They know each reform that returns flexibility and choice to parents and school boards represents a loss of power in D.C. It’s time we put the interests of America’s students above the desires of Washington politicians.

By reversing the top-down policies of recent decades, the Student Success Act offers conservative solutions to repair a broken education system. It would finally get Washington out of the way and allow parents, teachers, and state and local education leaders the flexibility to provide every child in every school a high quality education.

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Walberg Statement: Hearing on "The Blacklisting Executive Order: Rewriting Federal Labor Policies Through Executive Fiat"

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 12:00am

Federal contractors are essential to government operations. Most employers provide quality, cost effective services while complying with labor and employment law. Unfortunately, there are a few bad actors. We can all agree bad actors who deny workers basic protections, including wage and overtime protections, should not be awarded federal contracts funded with taxpayer dollars.

For that very reason, the federal government has had a system in place for decades which, if used effectively, would deny federal contracts to bad actors. In the event that a contractor fails to maintain a satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics, the contracting agency can suspend or debar the contractor, disqualifying the employer from contracts government wide.

Rather than dealing with these contractors directly under the existing system, on July 31, 2014, President Obama signed an executive order adding a burdensome, redundant, and unnecessarily punitive layer onto the federal procurement system.

The executive order will require employers to report instances in which they, or their subcontractors, have violated or allegedly violated various federal labor laws and equivalent state laws during a proceeding three year period. Prior to awarding a contract, each agency’s contracting officer and a newly created Labor Compliance Advisor will review this information and decide whether the employer’s actions demonstrate a lack of integrity or business ethics.

While the new reporting requirements are significantly burdensome, particularly for small employers, the subjectivity of the decision making process and deprivation of due process are deeply troubling. The Labor Compliance Advisor will advise the contracting officer as to whether an employer’s record amounts to a lack of business integrity.

However, this subjective determination will include alleged violations, creating a new, dangerous precedent that employers are guilty until proven innocent. Ultimately, the employer could be blacklisted based on alleged violations that are later found to have no merit, putting some good employers on the brink of going out of business.
 
We all share the same goal, however, rather than implement another layer of bureaucracy, the administration should work with Congress and stakeholders to use the existing system to crack down on bad actors and ensure the rights of America’s workers are protected.

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Byrne Statement: Hearing on "The Blacklisting Executive Order: Rewriting Federal Labor Policies Through Executive Fiat"

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 12:00am

The vast majority of federal contractors are responsible employers who obey the law and do right by their employees. 

There will always be, as the Chairman noted, bad actors who deny workers basic protections and we can all agree they should not receive taxpayer dollars for work on federal contracts.

However, even the most responsible employer can occasionally run afoul of labor and employment laws, or simply be accused of doing so.

The Executive Order we’re examining today unfairly shifts the regulatory burden to employers while removing the burden of proof from labor violation claims, resulting in a much less efficient system of government acquisition for both taxpayers and those seeking government contracts.

Furthermore, the Executive Order’s ban on pre-dispute arbitration clauses is a direct violation of the Federal Arbitration Act, which ensures the validity and enforcement of arbitration agreements - a practice that the United States Supreme Court has repeatedly reaffirmed.

The President has exceeded his authority to make such a change and is in direct violation of the law.

What’s worse – through its new reporting requirements, this Executive Order shifts an incredible regulatory burden to contractors themselves by requiring prime contractors, some of which have thousands of subcontractors, to collect information on their subcontractors related to 14 different federal labor and employment laws and over 500 different state laws.

For example, the Fair Labor Standards Act is the cornerstone of worker wage and hour protection. However, the regulations implementing that law are flawed and outdated.

Even the Department of Labor, which enforces the Fair Labor Standards Act, has run afoul of the law’s requirements from time to time.

This will have a major effect on these sub-contractors, many of them small businesses with limited resources to handle such an undertaking.

Many will be forced to divert resources to handle this new administrative task that will not have to be completed just once, but every six months.

These aggressive new regulations are going to unreasonably block responsible parties from participating in federal government contracts while seriously affecting the willingness of new employers to even seek federal contracts in the first place.

The result of this new process will be a significantly delayed contracting process that limits both healthy competition and the efficient delivery of goods to the U.S. government at a reasonable price to taxpayers.

Instead of helping employers comply with complicated regulatory requirements, the administration has added yet more red tape to the federal procurement system that has the potential of blacklisting responsible employers when there is already a system in place for weeding out truly bad actors.

To make matters worse, contracts will be put in jeopardy by alleged violations.

This could be particularly devastating for employers that are the target of union corporate campaigns or competitors who simply want a competitive edge against their competition.

This highly elevates the risk of frivolous complaints and the loss of business.

This executive order represents an overstep of authority by the President at the expense of employers and workers.

Rather than impose additional layers of bureaucracy the administration would be better served working with Congress and stakeholders to ensure the rules and regulations implementing our laws are modernized and streamlined.

Then the administration can work with good employers to ensure compliance rather than punishing them after the damage is done.

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CHABOT CONVENES ROUNDTABLE ON SMALL BUSINESS TRADE

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 12:00am

CHABOT CONVENES ROUNDTABLE ON SMALL BUSINESS TRADE 

WASHINGTON – Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) convened a roundtable today to discuss small businesses’ stake in trade. The participants included Members of the House Small Business Committee, Committee on Ways and Means, and small businesses from throughout the country who currently export their products overseas.

“You’re actively involved in trade,” Chabot said. “We want to find out how you did it and what we can change so other small businesses can trade.”

The discussion highlighted the importance of trade to future small businesses growth, the challenges faced by small exporters, and the need to reform ineffective federal export resources that are intended to facilitate trade, but often add confusion to an already complex process.

One business owner said, “If a small company can compete in the U.S., it can compete anywhere in the world. We just need to demystify the export process.”

Chairman Chabot concluded the conversation with specific questions about federal programs intended to support small businesses and potential trade agreements that could open new markets, emphasizing that small businesses require and can depend on the Small Business Committee to be their voice as the 114th Congress proceeds on the issue of international trade. 

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The SBA Budget for FY 2016: Does it Meet the Needs of America's Small Businesses?

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 2:00pm

On Wednesday, February 25, 2015, at 2:00 P.M., the Committee on Small Business held a hearing titled, The SBA Budget for FY 2016: Does it Meet the Needs of America's Small Businesses?​ 

The purpose of the hearing was to examine the the Small Business Administration's FY 2016 budget request to determine whether it will meet the needs of America's small businesses.

Opening Statement:

Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH)

Witnesses and Testimony:

  •  The Honorable Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator, United States Small Business Administration, Washington, DC
  •  Additional Items:


    Preserving the Multistakeholder Model of Internet Governance


    U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will convene a hearing on Wednesday, February 25, 2015, entitled “Preserving the Multistakeholder Model of Internet Governance.”

    As the U.S. government considers relinquishing control over certain aspects of Internet governance to the private sector, concerns remain that the loss of U.S. involvement over the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) could empower foreign powers – acting through intergovernmental institutions or other surrogates – t...

    Nelson: Lawmakers must grapple with privacy questions raised by new surveillance technology

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S.  Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said in a speech on the Senate floor today that the proliferation of software and spy devices poses a grave threat to consumers’ cellphone and Internet privacy, so much so that lawmakers are going to have to grapple with and find new ways to curb the increasing intrusions.

    Nelson also reiterated his call for a Federal Com...

    Rokita Statement: H.R 5, the Student Success Act

    Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 12:00am

    Every student deserves an effective teacher, an engaging classroom, and a quality education that paves the path for a bright and prosperous future. Unfortunately, despite the best of intentions, the nation’s current K-12 education law has failed to provide students this fundamental right. In fact, the law has only gotten in the way.

    No Child Left Behind’s onerous requirements and the Obama administration’s waiver scheme and pet projects have created a one-size-fits-all system that hinders innovation and stymies local efforts to improve student learning. As a result, too many young adults leave high school today without basic knowledge in reading, math, and science; ill-equipped to complete college and compete in the workforce; and, consequently, deprived of one of the best opportunities they have to earn a lifetime of success.

    Americans have settled for this status quo for far too long. Today we have an opportunity to chart a new course.

    The Student Success Act departs from the top-down approach that has inefficiently and ineffectively governed elementary and secondary education and restores responsibility to its rightful stewards: parents, teachers, and state and local education leaders. 

    First, the bill gets the federal government out of the business of running schools. It eliminates the dizzying maze of mandates that has dictated local decisions, and downsizes the bloated bureaucracy at the Department of Education that has focused on what Washington wants rather than what students need.

    Second, the bill empowers parents and education leaders with transparency, choice, and flexibility. It ensures parents continue to have the information they need to hold schools accountable and helps more families escape underperforming schools by expanding alternative education options such as quality charter schools. It also provides states the flexibility to develop their own systems for addressing school performance, and the autonomy to use federal funds in the most efficient way.

    With the Student Success Act, we have an opportunity to overcome a failed status quo. We have an opportunity to reduce the federal footprint in the nation’s classrooms. And we have an opportunity to signal to moms, dads, teachers, administrators, and state officials that we trust them to hold schools accountable for delivering a quality education to every child.

    As the governor of my home state of Indiana Mike Pence said before the House Education and the Workforce Committee earlier month, “There’s nothing that ails education that can’t be fixed by giving parents more choices and teachers more freedom to teach.” I’m confident this bill does just that.

    I urge my colleagues to join me in replacing a broken law with much-needed commonsense education reforms, and ask you to vote ‘yes’ on the Student Success Act.

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    Chabot Urges SBA to Join the Effort to Reach Trade Agreements

    House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 12:00am

    Chabot Urges SBA to Join the Effort to Reach Trade Agreements

    WASHINGTON – In today’s hearing on the Small Business Administration’s budget request for fiscal year 2016, Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) urged Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet to make international trade a priority for the SBA as Congress pursues trade agreements this year.

    Chairman Chabot said, “I met with a number of small businesses from around the country this morning. We talked about the importance of trade. As you know, trade is critical to our economy. Ninety-six percent of consumers are located outside the boundaries of the United States. Unfortunately, only 1 to 2 percent of small businesses are engaged in international trade.”

    Chairman Chabot and Administrator Contreras–Sweet agreed that crucial opportunities for trade and small business lie with Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and the TPP and TTIP agreements that can then follow.

    Chabot concluded with this request to Administrator Contreras-Sweet: “Please let me urge you to do everything in your power to emphasize to the Administration the importance of passing these trade pieces of legislation to small businesses across the country. You and I, in our different capacities, should do everything we can to do that.

    Chairman Chabot’s comments came after he had expressed some concern over the SBA’s budget priorities. “Ultimately, budgeting is about the bottom line for small businesses,” Chabot said in his opening statement.  “For the SBA, the budget is about accountability. The budget request is the Agency’s defense of its priorities to taxpayers, current small business owners, entrepreneurs, and Congress.  If this is the Agency’s defense, then it is has not gotten that accountability right.” Full hearing documents can be viewed here.   

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    VIDEO RELEASE: Kline Urges Support for the Student Success Act

    Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 12:00am
    The House of Representatives is currently debating the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), legislation to reduce the federal footprint in education, restore local control, and empower parents and local schools. House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) highlighted the challenges facing schools under burdensome federal policies and he urged his colleagues to place less faith in the Secretary of Education and more faith in parents, teachers, and education leaders by supporting the Student Success Act.
     

    The Student Success Act provides states and school districts more flexibility to fund local priorities, not Washington’s priorities. The legislation eliminates dozens of ineffective or duplicative programs so that each dollar makes a direct, meaningful, and lasting impact in classrooms.
     
    The bill strengthens accountability by replacing the current national scheme with state-led accountability systems, returning to states the responsibility to measure student performance and improve struggling schools.

    The Student Success Act also ensures parents have the information they need to hold their schools accountable. It’s their tax money, but more importantly, it is their children and they deserve to know how their schools are performing.
     
    The bill reaffirms that choice is a powerful lifeline for families with children in failing schools by extending the magnet school program, expanding access to high-quality charter schools, and allowing federal funds to follow low-income students to the traditional public or charter school of the parent’s choice.

    To read Chairman Kline's full remarks, click here.                                                                                

    To watch a video of his remarks, click here

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    ***MEDIA ADVISORY*** TOMORROW: Joint Hearing on President’s Blacklisting Executive Order

    Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 12:00am

    On Thursday, February 26 at 10:00 a.m., the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, chaired by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), and the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, chaired by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), will hold a joint subcommittee hearing entitled, “The Blacklisting Executive Order: Rewriting Federal Labor Policies Through Executive Fiat.” The hearing will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
       
    In July 2014, President Obama issued Executive Order 13673, which may deny employers federal contracts if they or their subcontractors violated or allegedly violated various federal labor laws. Based on information disclosed by the employer covering a three year period, each agency’s contracting officer and a newly created Labor Compliance Advisor will review an employer’s compliance history and decide whether the employer’s actions demonstrate a “lack of integrity of business ethics.” Employers have expressed concerns the executive order demands an unreasonable scope of reporting requirements, undermines their due process protections, disregards existing remedies to address labor law violations, and relies on a highly subjective review process.
            
    Thursday’s hearing will provide members an opportunity to examine the effect of the president’s executive order on the federal procurement system, as well as concerns raised by employers and stakeholders.
                    
    To learn more about the hearing, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
               

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    Kline Statement: H.R. 5, the Student Success Act

    Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 12:00am

    This week, we have an opportunity to advance bold reforms that will strengthen K-12 education for children across America.
     
    A great education can be the great equalizer, it can open doors to unlimited possibilities and provide students the tools they need to succeed in life. Every child in every school deserves an excellent education, yet we are failing to provide every child that opportunity.
     
    Today, approximately one out of five students drop out of high school, and many who do graduate are going to college or entering the workforce with a subpar education. The number of students proficient in reading and math is abysmal. The achievement gap separating minority students from their peers is appalling. Parents have little to no options to rescue their children from failing schools.
     
    A broken education system has plagued families for decades. Year after year, policymakers lament the problems and talk about solutions, and once in a while a law is enacted that promises to improve our education system. Unfortunately, past efforts have largely failed because they are based on the idea that Washington knows what’s best for children. We’ve doubled down on this flawed approach repeatedly and it isn’t working.
     
    Federal mandates dictate how to gauge student achievement, how to define qualified teachers, how to spend money at the state and local levels, and how to improve underperforming schools. And now, thanks to the unprecedented overreach of the current administration, the Department of Education is dictating policies concerning teacher evaluations, academic standards, and more.

    No one questions whether parents, teachers, and local education leaders are committed to their students, yet there are some who question whether they are capable of making the best decisions for their students.
     
    Success in school should be determined by those who teach inside our classrooms; by administrators who understand the challenges facing their communities; by parents who know better than anyone the needs of their children.
     
    If every child is going to receive a quality education, then we need to place less faith in the Secretary of Education and more faith in parents, teachers, and state and local leaders.
     
    That is why I am proud to sponsor the Student Success Act. By reducing the federal footprint, restoring local control, and empowering parents and education leaders, this commonsense bill will move our country in a better direction.
     
    The Student Success Act provides states and school districts more flexibility to fund local priorities, not Washington’s priorities. The legislation eliminates dozens of ineffective or duplicative programs so that each dollar makes a direct, meaningful, and lasting impact in classrooms.
     
    The bill strengthens accountability by replacing the current national scheme with state-led accountability systems, returning to states the responsibility to measure student performance and improve struggling schools.

    The Student Success Act also ensures parents have the information they need to hold their schools accountable. It’s their tax money, but more importantly, it is their children and they deserve to know how their schools are performing.
     
    The bill reaffirms that choice is a powerful lifeline for families with children in failing schools by extending the magnet school program, expanding access to high-quality charter schools, and allowing federal funds to follow low-income students to the traditional public or charter school of the parent’s choice.
     
    Finally, the Student Success Act reins in the authority of the Secretary of Education. We must stop the Secretary from unilaterally imposing his will on schools and this bill will do just that. 
     
    Perhaps that is why the White House and powerful special interests are teaming up to defeat this legislation. They fear the bill will lead to less control in Washington and more control in states and school districts. Let me assure the American people: that is precisely what this bill will do.
     
    I urge my colleagues to help all children, regardless of background, income, or zip code, receive an excellent education by supporting the Student Success Act.

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    Nelson questions FCC about use of surveillance technology

    WASHINGTON, DC - Sen. Bill Nelson has asked federal authorities to review the use of cell phone monitoring devices that are now in the hands of numerous local law enforcement agencies.  He did so in a letter today to the Federal Communications Commission.  The use of the so-called StingRay device is gaining increased scrutiny not only in the media, but in Congress as well.

    Following is Nelson’s letter to the FCC and a recent Washington Post article.

     

     

    Feb. 24, 2015

     

    The Honorable Tom Wheeler

    ...

    Sen. Cruz Calls Subcommittee Hearing on Space Exploration

    U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, will convene a hearing on Tuesday, February 24, 2015, at 2:00 p.m. entitled “U.S. Human Exploration Goals and Commercial Space Competitiveness.” Former NASA astronauts including Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon and the pilot of Apollo 11, and leaders in the commercial space industry will provide their testimony.

    “I look forward to Tuesday's hearing, which will provide both the Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee and the American...

    Chabot on Keystone Veto and Cincinnati Jobs

    House Small Business Committee News - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 12:00am

    Chabot on Keystone Veto; Cincinnati Jobs

    WASHINGTON - Following President Obama’s veto of bipartisan legislation approving construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) issued the following statement:

    “When we talk about the jobs Keystone would support, we’re not just talking about numbers. We’re talking about real people, like those I’ve met at the Siemens factory in Cincinnati who stand ready to manufacture the electric motors for the pipeline. We’re talking about more than 42,000 hardworking Americans in cities and towns all over the country who are paying the price for President Obama’s political temper tantrum.

    Republicans, Democrats, and the people who sent us here want the Keystone Pipeline. We’ll continue to fight for what is right, even if President Obama made it clear today that he will not.”

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    Chabot Leads Bipartisan Effort to Expand Small Business Access to Capital

    House Small Business Committee News - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 12:00am
     

    Chabot Leads Bipartisan Effort to Expand Small Business Access to Capital

    WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group led by Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) today introduced legislation to invigorate the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Program, allowing promising small businesses greater access to capital to grow their businesses and create jobs.

    “We have to build an opportunity economy that allows all Americans to get ahead,” said Chairman Chabot. “In my home state of Ohio, more than 2,000 people have jobs today because the SBIC helped small businesses there access the resources they needed to grow. The program is an efficient, smart, and successful way of making capital available to small businesses poised for growth. Strengthening the SBIC will go a long way towards creating more good-paying jobs across the country—all at no cost to taxpayers.”

    Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-RI), the bill’s lead Democratic co-sponsor, said, “I am proud to work with Chairman Chabot to support SBICs, and am happy to reintroduce this common sense proposal that would help increase the amount of capital available to small businesses and help get hardworking families in Rhode Island and across the country back to work. I look forward to working across the aisle to help pass this legislation and ensure that small businesses around the country have the resources and support they need to grow and expand.”

    The SBIC Program is a public-private partnership that provides small businesses access to equity and debt financing. The program has provided billions in private capital to startups and small businesses, some of which have become household names such as Pandora, Whole Foods, Apple, and Nike.

    H.R. 1023 would allow experienced managers of multiple SBIC funds to increase their leverage from $225 million to $350 million, helping these entities provide additional capital to small businesses.

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    Why Americans need a new education law

    Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 12:00am

    Our country faces tough challenges: a slow economy, stagnant wages, and a weak job market. With the right set of bold reforms, our nation can once again be a land of opportunity and prosperity for every American who seeks it.

    Toward that end, this week the House of Representatives will consider the Student Success Act, a commonsense proposal to fix a broken K-12 education system and help all children, regardless of background or zip code, receive an excellent education.

    The fact of the matter is, the law governing our current K-12 education system, No Child Left Behind, is failing. It’s based on the false premise that Washington knows what’s best for schools, rather than parents, teachers, and administrators.

    The evidence is there in the numbers. Though the federal government has more control over classrooms than ever before, just 38 percent of high school seniors are reading at grade level, and only 26 percent are proficient in math.
     
    These poor results make it harder for young men and women to compete on the global stage. Out of 34 countries that participate in the Programme for International Student Assessment, the U.S. ranks 20th and 27th in science and math, respectively.

    The American people should not have to settle for this status quo.

    After years of an outsized — and unsuccessful — federal role in education, the Student Success Act gets Washington out of the business of running schools and restores responsibility for providing an effective education to states and school districts.

    The legislation will end the era of one-size-fits-all prescriptions by repealing ineffective federal requirements governing accountability, teacher quality, and local spending that have proven to hamstring the ability of states and school districts to improve student learning.

    The Student Success Act will downsize the bureaucracy at the U.S. Department of Education by eliminating nearly 70 ineffective, duplicative, and unnecessary federal programs, reduce the department’s staff accordingly, and replace this confusing maze of programs with a Local Academic Flexible Grant, providing states and school districts the flexibility they need to promote innovative reforms tailored to their unique student populations.

    The legislation also reins in the Secretary’s authority, to ensure neither he nor his successors interfere or coerce states into adopting a specific set of standards or assessments, including Common Core.

    In addition to reducing the federal footprint and restoring local control, the bill will expand parental choice to help more children escape underperforming schools, which is critical to charting a better path for students.

    In my home state of Indiana, the Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School’s rigorous curriculum and laser-focus on preparing students for higher education has helped more than 80 percent of its alumni earn a bachelor’s degree.

    The Student Success Act will support the replication of successful charter schools like Tindley, giving more students an opportunity to complete a college education and compete in the workforce.

    It is no surprise the White House and powerful special interests are teaming up to derail this important effort. They continue to use scare tactics and budget gimmicks to mislead the American people, because they are worried a new law will lead to less control in Washington and more control in the hands of parents and local education leaders. Frankly, it will — and it's about time.

    Opponents of reform would rather pile more mandates, bureaucracy, and taxpayer money onto a broken system. If we adopted their approach, then the federal footprint in classrooms would continue to grow and student achievement would remain stagnant.

    The Student Success Act offers a responsible alternative — one that gives power back to the moms, dads, teachers, administrators, and state officials who can make the most direct, lasting impact in a child’s life.
        

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    Ohio Supreme Court Holds Municipal “Fracking” Regulations Cannot Conflict with State Rules

    WLF Legal Pulse - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 10:58am
    Featured Expert Column – Environmental Law and Policy by Samuel B. Boxerman, Sidley Austin LLP, with Katharine Newman, Sidley Austin LLP Last week, the Ohio Supreme Court weighed in on the battle being waged between state and local governments over oil and gas development, ruling that Ohio cities and municipalities may not use home rule […]
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