The U.S. House of Representatives moved yesterday to postpone debate and the vote on HR 5, due to the volume of amendments and length of time debate on those amendments would consume. Questions from all quarters are still being raised and the final wording of the bill is still in flux to be sure. With all the accusations being hurled about concerning the Student Access Act, its difficult at times to decipher what is accurate.
Heritage Action has come out against HR 5 listing claims of misleading facts within the bill. While I empathize and certainly agree with Heritage in their ardent disapproval of Federally controlled education, it may be, in their zeal to discredit the bill, Heritage is guilty of some misleading information of their own. Let’s take a peek.
Heritage claims that HR 5 maintains the same high levels of governmental interference that were imposed by the NO Child Left Behind Act, when in truth, the No Child Left Behind expired in the fiscal year 2008. With no Congressional action, the present Administration has been free to establish educational policy through Executive fiat. Similarly, the Secretary of Education has had no check or balance from Congress as their office has continued to extend waivers and impose national policy. Language in HR 5 actually allows for funds to follow low-income families to charter schools and gives States sovereignty in establishing their own accountability measures. It also prevents the Secretary of Education from dictating teacher standards.
Heritage also claims that because of the bill’s size, over 600 pages, The Student Access Act does not reduce spending but merely reorganizes the way the department spends $25 million annually, still, the facts tell a different story. HR 5 flat-lines funding for K through 12 for 5 years at a rate lower than the Title 1 authorization for the last year it was authorized under law. The bill ensures that funds are targeted towards students and not bureaucrats. It requires the Secretary of Education to identify the number of employees identified with the consolidated 65 programs and reduce the workforce by an equal number.
It certainly cuts against my grain to criticize another conservative organization like Heritage Action, but it does concern me when misleading facts are used. Do I trust Congress on this? Absolutely not! I don’t trust Congress on anything, but I would prefer these conservative organizations would be engaged in the process rather than lobbing fireballs from the outside. Heritage has also given Representatives such as Steve Pearce (R-NM), Walter Jones (R-NC), Steve King (R-IA), Randy Weber (R-TX) and Trey Gowdy (R-SC) less than perfect ratings on their conservative scorecards. Perhaps Heritage has some skewed parameters in their measurements of these well-known conservative Congressmen.
I have two children that are home schooled and one in Christian school. I would much rather have an organizations, such as the Homeschool Legal Defense Association and the Family Research Council, involved in maintaining wording that protects my liberties in HR 5. The ideal of an educational system free of government control is a worthy and admirable goal we all hope to attain, but its shadow is not even on the horizon. No Conservative in a perfect scenario wants Federal control of education, but if we disengage from the legislative process out of protest to adhere to a pure standard, we will be left out of the language and must assuredly targeted.