We Can’t Trust the Feds, Says Lamar Alexander

Published April 28, 2016

Remember when Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander sheepdogged the No Child Left Behind rewrite bill through Congress, and this author and colleagues argued it would not “end the national school board,” as Alexander promised? That was just four months ago. Four. Alexander himself now agrees with us – conveniently after rushing the bill into law.

Alexander has been beating his chest about how the regulatory process is yielding … well, the same thing big government always yields: a bureaucracy that does whatever it wants, a.k.a. torpedoes the rule of law and government by consent. Susan Berry at Breitbart.com reports:

During an oversight hearing of the Senate Health Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP), chairman Alexander told Education Secretary John King that in a negotiated rulemaking session, “your department proposed a rule that would do exactly what the law says it shall not do. … Not only is what you’re doing against the law, the way you’re trying to do it is against another provision in the law.”

Someone get the smelling salts! An administrative agency assuming it’s above the law? Maybe Alexander should have thought about this possibility when he increased funding for and granted vast power to the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) via the Every Student Succeeds Act, especially since the department has been ignoring the law’s boundaries for essentially the entire duration of President Barack Obama’s tenure, starting with pushing states into Common Core and illegally creating national tests. That should have been a major clue that bureaucrats are laughing at elected lawmakers like Alexander behind closed doors.

Former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan even said as much after ESSA passed, telling Politico, “We were intentionally quiet on the bill – they asked us specifically not to praise it – and to let it get through.” “They,” by the way, were not Democratic strategists, but Republican leaders – like Alexander. Someone tell me why Tennesseans keep electing this double-crosser.

This episode is yet another reminder of why federal agencies should not be permitted to control state and local school systems. If Congress can’t stop agencies it ostensibly oversees from breaking the law, what’s the point of Congress? Both Congress and USDOE have proven they cannot be trusted with power over education, continually promising one thing and delivering the opposite. This is yet another reason to oppose a new bill working its way through Congress, which would grant the government more power to psychologically profile children and attach that information to them for life.

Look: Federal involvement in education, Cato Institute research shows, has not coincided with any benefits to American children. If they aren’t doing well with the job they’re doing now, it’s senseless to give them even more responsibilities. It’s time to devolve power to the people closest to children, to stop these rampant abuses of power that serve only to benefit the ruling class at the expense of all the rest of us.

(For details on the regulations prompting this controversy, see here.)

SOURCES: Breitbart.com, Education Next, Townhall.com, Washington Times


School Choice Roundup

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  • GEORGIA: This fall, voters will encounter this question on their ballots: “Should Georgia empower parents with the right to use the tax dollars allocated for the education of their children, allowing them the freedom to choose among public, private, virtual, and home schools?”
  • TENNESSEE: Two legislative committees have approved a bill that would allow children to use some of their state education money to take classes in nearby public school districts, a limited form of a “course access” program.
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