The Department of Extortion
Obama rewrites another law. This time, education funding is at stake.
Despite Barack Obama’s repeated public statements identifying his primary regret while in office as not “healing the divisions” in Washington, he has done more to cause the problem than anyone. Take for example his recent actions rewriting a bipartisan education law. In short, he’s proving that South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson was accurate when he interrupted Obama’s 2009 State of the Union Address to thunder, “You lie!”
In what has happened only a few times during Obama’s tenure, bipartisan legislation was passed — this time to rewrite No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in December 2015. Obama declared at the signing that the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was “a Christmas miracle.” Further, Obama noted, “Today, I’m proud to sign a law that’s going to make sure that every student is prepared to succeed in the 21st century.”
Well, he was mighty proud until it became apparent his unelected federal bureaucrats couldn’t make demands of your state education departments and your local school districts through the extortion of funding. And now the Obama Department of Education is rewriting rules to circumvent the law to return to their previous modus operandi: “Do what we say to get your money.”
The ESSA, while emphasizing the need for standards and testing, placed that responsibility and the specific details with the states, versus a federal set of rules driven by a glut of student testing and Common Core. The law requires that states use their own “college-and-career ready standards” to measure mastery and preparedness for postsecondary education, with an intervention protocol for areas of concern. ESSA also leaves the process of testing, as well as how the scoring is interpreted, up to state governments.
The biggest disruption to any reign of political or bureaucratic power is to change its role in appropriating money — to remove the marionette strings. And ESSA significantly altered the status quo of the education dollar returned to states. Forget the fact that the average funding from the federal government back to individual states comprises only about 12% of direct education expenditures. This coveted sum is always sought by the never-ending needs (and “needs”) of education.
Education Week opined, “Congress has redefined the federal role in elementary and secondary education. And it’s done so in a way that aims to enhance the authority of states and school districts that had long chafed at the strictures of ESSA’s predecessor, the No Child Left Behind Act.”
Simply, ESSA now dictates a supplement-not-supplant use of federal funding. It equalizes funding to low-income and “disadvantaged” schools through the states‘ administration of Title I funding. According to The Heritage Foundation, that funding has been increased from “$14.4 billion to an authorized level of $15 billion in 2017, and to $16.2 billion by 2020.”
Yet, citing civil rights concerns that states would fail to fully fund certain schools, the newly-but-barely-confirmed Secretary of Education John King (parroting Obama’s talking points) was clear — he supported Obama’s disregard for the law. King’s 49-40 confirmation vote on March 14 demonstrated the forgotten bipartisan approach to education reform from just three months prior.
King argued that the revisions of ESSA presented by the Department of Education were meant to ensure that a Title I school “receives at least as much in state and local funding as the average non-Title I school.”
Now, let’s break this down into its most essential ingredients. If the Education Department ignores ESSA, it intends to fully fund schools that fit an income and racial designation regardless of merit of a school and its students. Ever hear of the term “funding failure?”
While the legislative attempt was made to send block grants back to the state to put the education of students closer to the parent and teachers in the classroom, it is abundantly clear that two problems remain in Washington, DC. One, we have a president who not only disregards the law, but whose crony collaborations reveal a lack of integrity and honesty. Two, the only way to allow states to control the education of their students is to dissolve the U.S. Department of Education.
There is no area of government or policy that Obama and his band of militant progressives have left intact that could possibly restore the confidence of the America public that their government works for them. Our Republican Congress must now rise to immediately change the appropriations of the Department of Education via the power of the purse.
It’s apparent these educrats live by the power of extortion. So, Republican Congress, speak their language and tighten their strings.