Parents trigger school reform; Congress plays footsie

Jul 25, 2015 by

parenttrigger

By Deborah Simmons –

Don’t expect a massive education bill to reach President Obama’s desk anytime soon.

Although the House and Senate have passed legislation, the members in those two chambers have yet to haggle in conference over the dollars and sense of the measure. And do not expect them to do so before you’ve depleted your back-to-school budget.

The earliest Congress will likely have an agreement is the second week of September, when parents, students and teachers are just beginning to remember names, faces and room numbers for the 2015-16 school year.

None of which implies parents and school-reform stakeholders can afford to lollygag during the remaining summer. The to-do list is relatively short, but the unions and anti-choice crowds have a head start.

Indeed, just this week scores of civil rights groups from coast to coast and border to border, having already given their cursory blessings to the federal bills, now are pushing Congress to sign off on a fill-in-the-blank check.

Didn’t know about that blank check, huh? It is the fiscally irresponsible check written at the behest of Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Republican, and Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat. So that, in a nutshell, is the spending tug-of-war that must play out — and push and pull it shall be.

Three Senate Democrats rejected the bill because it doesn’t give the federal government a very heavy hand in how our schools are run, while three Republican senators — Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida — rejected the measure because it doesn’t push back hard enough on federal involvement.

In the meantime, on the accountability front, members of Congress want to tether teacher evaluations to student testing, but considerably up the ante for poor students. Not so that these children and their families can opt into voucher programs, though. Or new computers. Or high-tech school labs. Or online courses they can take at home or the library. Or newer textbooks.

No. The status quo — the variegated unions — wants more money for the status quo: feeding programs, pre-K, etc. And they are simply tickled pink to think that money is on the way.

Said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers: “It sends a powerful message that equity really matters and that schooling must be more about teaching and learning than testing and measuring. More must be done to address the needs of historically disadvantaged children, but this bill offers a significant piece of the puzzle.”

Reformers can formulate their counter:

1. Teachers must be measured on the performance of their students. It’s the only unbiased way to measure teachers.

2. Parents should be able to use their education tax dollars to place their children in a private or parochial school. Public education is mandatory, but public schools are not.

3. Beware of terms like “historically disadvantaged children.” These political demographics no longer immediately refer to black children. Today’s unions want to bolster their ranks and coffers with Hispanic, Native American, Asian, African and South American dues-paying members. Politicians want to grab the votes of Hispanics, Native Americans, Asians, Africans and South Americans — and they don’t care whether crossed over our border with Mexico, either. They just want to make sure they have the right to vote in a city or county within our borders.

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Source: DEBORAH SIMMONS: Parents trigger school reform; Congress plays footsie – Washington Times

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