Posted on March 2, 2017
Regulation specifically violates federal law by doing what Congress told the department not to do
WASHINGTON, March 2 — A group of 10 senators led by Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) this week introduced a resolution to rescind the Department of Education’s final regulation for implementing the accountability provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act.
Senator Alexander (R-Tenn.) said: “Here is the problem with this rule that was put out by the U.S. Department of Education: the rule specifically does things or requires states to do things that Congress said in our law fixing No Child Left Behind that the Department can’t do. In other words, the Department’s regulation specifically violates the law. It’s not a matter of just being within the authority granted by the law; we said to the Department, ‘You can’t tell states exactly what to do about fixing low-performing schools. That’s their decision.’ This rule does that. And we said to the Department, ‘You can’t tell states exactly how to rate the public schools in your state,’ but this rule does that.”
Alexander continued: “So, this is really a question of whether you believe that the United States Congress writes the law or whether you believe the U.S. Department of Education writes the law. I believe under Article I of our Constitution, the United States Congress writes the law, and when it’s signed by the President, then that’s the law and that the regulations have to stay within it — and that is especially true when Congress has prohibited the Department from doing these things that the rule does.
“And this isn’t a trivial matter. The whole issue around the bill fixing No Child Left Behind was to reverse the trend to a national school board and restore to states, classroom teachers, and parents decisions about what to do about their children in public schools. Teachers, governors, school boards all were fed up with Washington telling them so much about what to do about their children in 100,000 public schools. So this rule, which contravenes the law specifically, goes to the heart of the bill fixing No Child Left Behind, which received 85 votes in the United States Senate.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said: “The goal of the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is to send power back to parents, teachers, schools, and states, rather than Washington bureaucrats. I’m gravely concerned by an Obama Administration accountability regulation that flies in the face of this bipartisan legislation that overwhelmingly passed Congress. As such, I am proud to join Senator Alexander and in introducing a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to ensure the ideals of ESSA are upheld and I commend him for his leadership on this issue.”
Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said: “Congress has said the states should hold schools accountable for their performance—without Washington bureaucrats looking over their shoulder. And by passing this resolution, we will continue to put power back in the hands of parents and teachers, where it belongs.”
Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) said: “This rule from the Obama Administration directly contradicts the bipartisan education bill passed by Congress in 2015 that put control back in the hands of states and parents. Congress makes the laws, not federal agencies. I cosponsored this resolution because the law is clear - states, not the federal government, are in charge of how to hold schools accountable and what strategies they will implement to help fix underperforming schools.”
Senator David Perdue (R-Ga.): “In the past year, we have made significant progress in reducing Washington’s control of our schools and this regulation undermines this effort. One-size-fits-all education standards have failed our students and what we are seeing here is a bureaucratic attempt to retain control over accountability standards. We are acting immediately to stop this regulation and ensure accountability standards remain under the purview of states and not with the federal government.”
Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said: "I have made it clear that our children receive the best possible education when decisions are made at the local and state level. ESSA was written to restore responsibility to states for their local schools by providing increased flexibility to design and implement their education programs. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration blatantly ignored both the spirit and intent of ESSA when drafting the accountability regulation. For that reason, I cosponsored this resolution to ensure that these key education decisions are made by states instead of the federal government.”
Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said: “By cutting this red tape, we would remove Washington bureaucrats from the classroom and empower states, local education agencies, teachers, and parents to make the best decisions for students, both in Mississippi and across the country. I applaud my colleagues who join me in working to reverse this regulation.”
The Congressional Review Act resolution is co-sponsored by: Majority Leader McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senators Cassidy (R-La.), Cornyn (R-Texas), Cotton (R-Ark.), Enzi (R-Wyo.), McCain (R-Ariz.), Perdue (R-Ga.), Roberts (R-Kan.), and Wicker (R-Miss.).
For access to this release and the senator’s other statements, click here.