Freedom First Society

Issue: H.R. 5 Student Success Act. (To 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.)

Result: Passed in House, 221 to 207, 6 not voting. Republicans scored.

Bill Summary: The Student Success Act of 2013 would amend and reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1985 (ESEA), most recently reauthorized as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

The Student Success Act also authorizes appropriations for the programs under titles I, II, III, and IV of the amended ESEA. Although the authorizations for those programs have expired, most have continued to receive appropriations.

Authorizes funding through fiscal year 2019 for various grant programs. Amends and reauthorizes the McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which authorizes grants to assist in the education of homeless children.

H.R. 5 would reduce federal programs and metrics to give states more control of their own educational systems. Example: H.R. 5 would eliminate federally mandated actions and interventions currently required of poor performing schools.

The Congressional Budget office estimates that H.R. 5 would authorize the appropriation of $22.9 billion in 2014 and $114.3 billion over the 2014-2018 period.

Analysis:  Several parts of this measure seem laudable at first glance as they strive to limit federal involvement in state-organized public education and reduce the worst of the existing impacts. But the objective of the measure is too small, and the measure ratifies unconstitutional federal involvement. In the words of Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC):

“We need to get the federal government out of our classrooms. Education is an issue that should be left to the states, who can more appropriately address the needs of their local students.  Half-measures such as this that allow Washington to continue to wield extensive control are unacceptable.”

This posturing roll call was clearly not intended to reform anything (as there was insufficient support in the Senate and strong opposition from the White House). So for H.R. 5 to have any value beyond supporting Republican reelection campaigns, it should have at least set the appropriate vision of a solution.

But, as with so many superficial legislative proposals, H.R. 5 avoids recognizing that the U.S. made a serious misstep when it allowed the federal government to get involved with state and local “public” education in the first place. A real solution requires that “missteps” be reversed not entrenched.

By contrast, H.R. 5 seeks to limit federal intervention and make it more tolerable. For example, a House Education and the Work Force Committee Fact Sheet on H.R. 5 states:

“It’s time to eliminate wasteful and duplicative federal programs and grant states and local school districts the freedom to direct federal resources to the programs that best serve their student populations.” [Emphasis added.]

But any federal involvement is dangerous, destructive, and unconstitutional. Moreover, U.S. involvement wasn’t really an innocent “misstep.” It was the result of a decades-long drive by the revolutionary socialist Left to overcome well established resistance to this unconstitutional power grab.

In 1958, using the Soviet launch of Sputnik as a pretext, Congress opened the door to federal aid to education by passing the “National Defense and Education Act.” One astute congressman, Noah Mason of Illinois, warned of the consequences at the time:

“Federal Aid for Education is not a temporary program to meet an immediate emergency. It is an effort to put our whole educational system under Federal control and to keep it there forever.”

The real purpose of the power grab, easily documented, had nothing to do with improving education and educational opportunities and everything to do with gaining control of the minds of our youth for authoritarian, political purposes.

True reformers in the House should use the House’s power of the purse and refuse to appropriate any moneys for the expired Elementary and Secondary Education Act (created under President Johnson). Nothing positive can be accomplished by negotiating with Big-government liberals in the Senate and White House marching to the drums of the educational establishment seeking to control education.

We do not score the Democrats on this roll call, as most undoubtedly cast the right vote (none supported H.R. 5) for the wrong reason (many objected to the proposed reductions in federal oversight and insisted that the feds must intervene to give minorities and low income areas an equitable chance). Unfortunately, several of the Republican naysayers don’t deserve “good votes” either, as they likely sided with the Democrat argument.

We have assigned (good vote) to the Noes and (bad vote) to the Ayes. (P = voted present; ? = not voting; blank = not listed on roll call.)

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