Teacher and U. S. House Response to O’s State of Union Address

Jan 25, 2012 by

Donna Garner

[1.25.12 — Underneath Doug Lasken’s insightful comments about Obama’s speech last night and what he said about education, I have posted the response from Congressman John Kline, Chair of House Education and Workforce Committee.

I understand why Doug is frustrated with the slow pace of Congress to stop Obama’s overreach of the federal government into the public schools through Common Core Standards and Race to the Top. I personally believe the House should have cut the appropriations for CCS/RTTT a long time ago.

However, the Student Success Act mentioned by Chairman Kline would put the state standards and accountability system under the control of each state; thus, if passed, this Act would do away with the federalized Common Core Standards Initiative (national standards, national curriculum, national assessments, national teacher evaluations, national database), including Race to the Top.

The USDOE would have to sign off on state’s standards and accountability system but could only disallow them if the states did not follow the requirements in the Congressionally passed Student Success Act.

Also, a committee of peers, parents, teachers, representatives from state and local education agencies, etc. would be the ones to decide whether the state plans follow the provisions of the Student Success Act – and not Arne Duncan’s Department of Education.

Please go to the following link and scan through the Student Success Act starting at Page 14, paying particular attention to Page 30, Line 18, Peer Review and Secretarial Approval: http://edworkforce.house.gov/UploadedFiles/The_Student_Success_Act.pdf

It appears to me as if the Student Success Act is a definite attempt to move the standards, curriculum, testing, and accountability back to the states even though the NAEP will still be given periodically to compare/contrast states’ education achievements.

If passed, the Student Success Act would wrest control of our public schools away from the Obama administration’s Common Core Standards/Race to the Top, give that power/control back to the states and locals, and would change significantly the provisions of NCLB.

Now if we could just get the GOP candidates focused on these terribly important education issues… — Donna Garner]

“Obama State of the Union – Where Is GOP Response to Education Issues?”

by Doug Lasken





The President did address education in last night’s state of the union address, although it was delivered in advanced Spin rather than English. Here in full are his education remarks, with my notes in brackets:

“These reforms [in job training] will help people get jobs that are open today. But to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, our commitment to skills and education has to start earlier.

For less than one percent of what our Nation spends on education each year, we’ve convinced nearly every State in the country to raise their standards for teaching and learning — the first time that’s happened in a generation.”

[Note: the Dept. of Ed. budget for 2011 is about $77 billion, and if Common Core, which he does not mention by name but clearly refers to here, costs even $30 billion (a low-end estimate) then it’s clearly not “less than one percent of what our Nation spends on education each year,” unless he is referring to the cost to states, which would make sense because the states are expected to pay most of Common Core. If so, how is he calculating the aggregate cost to states and their ability to pay? In CA, Gov. Brown is pushing a tax increase that will add about $5 billion to Prop. 98 mandatory education spending, bringing the fund to about $52 billion, some of which will be used to pay down debt, leaving about $30 billion for schools. The estimate for implementation of CCSSI in CA is $1.6- $2 billion, which Obama apparently suggests could come from our $30 billion budget, but there is no surplus in there. Even with the tax increase the gov. may have to cut $570 million for busing. It doesn’t matter what percentage of the state totals CCSSI is if the states don’t have the money for it.]

Continuing Obama’s speech:

“But challenges remain. And we know how to solve them.

At a time when other countries are doubling down on education, tight budgets have forced States to lay off thousands of teachers. We know a good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by over $250,000. A great teacher can offer an escape from poverty to the child who dreams beyond his circumstance. Every person in this chamber can point to a teacher who changed the trajectory of their lives. Most teachers work tirelessly, with modest pay, sometimes digging into their own pocket for school supplies — just to make a difference.

Teachers matter. So instead of bashing them, or defending the status quo, let’s offer schools a deal. Give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. In return, grant schools flexibility: To teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren’t helping kids learn.”

[Note: There is no policy in this statement. How will you determine which teachers are “good”? How much will you pay them? Will rates of pay to “good” teachers be standardized, or will “good” teachers make $50,000 at one school and $90,000 at another? Will they jump from school to school looking for the highest pay, per the dictates of the free-market? How will that distribute the best teachers to those most in need, a major liberal goal? Obama is presenting a visionary dream, not policy. Other people can figure that out later.]

Finally, the President addressed drop-outs:

“We also know that when students aren’t allowed to walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma. So tonight, I call on every State to require that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn eighteen.”

[Note: A fiat stating that states must end all high school dropouts is not policy. If states or schools knew how to do that they would have done it long ago.

Obama’s references to education lay him wide open to attack, but don’t expect any attacks. Mitch Daniels gave the GOP response to the state of the union address and said nothing about the president’s remarks on education or indeed about education at all. The GOP candidates who would have responded are on their way out, leaving Romney and Gingrich, who rarely talk about education except to say that they like Obama’s programs. I think it’s fair to say that regarding education, we have no opposition party in the U.S. ]

Doug Lasken, Recently Retired California Teacher


1.25.12 — Congressman John Kline, Chair of House Education and the Workforce Committee


Rhetoric vs. Action: State of the Union Promises and the House Republican Agenda

Last night, President Obama laid out his vision for the country in his State of the Union address. While many of the plans and promises sounded oddly familiar, House Republicans have been working for months to turn the president’s rhetoric into action on behalf of students, workers, and employers.

Strengthening Job Training Assistance

President’s Rhetoric: “And I want to cut through the maze of confusing training programs, so that from now on, people like Jackie have one program, one website, and one place to go for all the information and help that they need.”

Republican Action: Today, more than 47 separate job training programs are spread across nine federal agencies, creating a bureaucratic mess that undermines support for workers and wastes taxpayer resources. Recognizing this crisis in our nation’s workforce investment system, House Education and the Workforce Committee Republicans have made job training reform a top priority. In December, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) introduced the Streamlining Workforce Development Programs Act (H.R. 3610), legislation that consolidates dozens of existing programs into four flexible funding streams. The legislation is one part of the committee’s larger effort to strengthen job training assistance.

Keeping Jobs in the United States

President’s Rhetoric: “Tonight, my message to business leaders is simple: Ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed.”

Republican Action: A key part of any employer’s success is deciding where to open a business and hire workers. Yet last year, the National Labor Relations Board tried to tell a private employer where it could and could not create work. A survey by the National Association of Manufacturers found this abuse of authority by a federal agency threatened the hiring decisions of 60 percent of manufacturers. House Republicans took action and passed with bipartisan support the Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act (H.R. 2587). This commonsense proposal prevents the activist NLRB from dictating the location of American jobs. Despite widespread support from the nation’s job creators, this important legislation continues to await action in the United States Senate.

Raising the Bar on K-12 Education

President’s Rhetoric: “Give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. And in return, grant schools flexibility: to teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren’t helping kids learn.”

Republican Action: Every child deserves to be inspired by a great teacher, just as every student deserves access to a quality education. House Education and the Workforce Committee Republicans recently introduced two draft legislative proposals that empower parents, teachers, and state and local leaders to build superior schools and improve student achievement.

The policies outlined in the Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act will replace the existing federal K-12 accountability system with state-developed and implemented accountability systems. The legislation will also support locally developed teacher evaluations based on student learning, and approaches such as performance pay and alternative paths to certification to help recruit and keep the most effective educators in our schools. Additionally, the proposals will support additional flexibility in the use of federal education funds, protecting taxpayer investments by ensuring state and local leaders’ have the ability to dedicate federal resources to the most effective initiatives.

Keeping Higher Education Within Reach

President’s Rhetoric: “Of course, it’s not enough for us to increase student aid. We can’t just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition; we’ll run out of money. States also need to do their part, by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets. And colleges and universities have to do their part by working to keep costs down.”

Republican Action: Helping students realize the dream of higher education is a goal shared by Republicans and Democrats alike – however, it cannot be accomplished solely at the federal level. Colleges and universities must do their part to lessen the burden for students. Last year, House Committee on Education and the Workforce Republicans called on leaders in higher education to continue exploring ways to ensure a more affordable college education remains available for American students. Additionally, we continue to support increased transparency in the reporting of college costs while working to remove burdensome federal regulations that could impose higher costs on postsecondary institutions.

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