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Obama Threatens to Veto NCLB Reform Bill: ‘Abdicates Historic Federal Role in Education’

As expected, President Obama is threatening to veto a House Republican bill that would reform the No Child Left Behind law.

According to the Washington Examiner, on Wednesday, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said in a statement for the Obama administration that the bill, dubbed the Student Success Act (HR5), “abdicates the historic federal role in elementary and secondary education of ensuring the educational progress of all of America’s students, including students from low-income families, students with disabilities, English learners and students of color.”

Conservatives, however, have continued to point out that the U.S. Constitution provides no role for the federal government in education.

The GOP plan, which Republicans say provides more flexibility for federal funding for low-income students, “represents a significant step backwards in the efforts to help all of the nation’s children and their families prepare for their futures,” the administration said.

Additionally, Democrats say the bill would remove federal funding from poor school districts.

While the GOP-led House has passed a similar version of the current bill in 2013, there was no support for it in the then-Democrat led Senate. With the GOP at the reins of the Senate now, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the Senate education chairman, has a bill of his own that has been in the works for a couple years. With Democrat Sen. Patty Murray’s (WA) help, Alexander hopes to get the votes he needs to bring it to Obama’s desk for signature. Education sources close to Breitbart News say this bill will need to assure enough federal involvement in education that Obama would be more likely to sign it.

In an interview with Breitbart News published Tuesday, Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education – which prepared the Student Success Act – said, “Because No Child Left Behind has not been reauthorized, the administration has issued these waivers and – in a sense – become a ‘national school board.’”

The Obama administration offered waivers from the onerous regulations of NCLB to entice states into agreeing to a set of “common” standards, associated tests, new teacher evaluation programs, and massive student data collection systems. The Common Core standards or their “rebrands”– the only “common” standards that fulfill the Obama administration’s requirements – have grown into perhaps the most unpopular education initiative the nation has ever seen. Most of the 46 states that signed onto the unproven standards – before they were even published – are now attempting to rid themselves of the initiative in one form or another.

“Rather than investing more in schools, [the Republican bill] would allow states to divert education funding away from the schools and students who need it the most through the so-called ‘portability’ provision,” said the OMB statement. “The bill’s caps on federal education spending would lock in recent federal budget cuts for the rest of the decade, and the bill would allow funds currently required to be used for education to be used for other purposes, such as spending on sports stadiums or tax cuts for the wealthy.”

Conservative grassroots groups and parents who have been opposed to the Common Core standards say the GOP plan to replace NCLB does not do enough to remove the federal government from education.

“In provision after provision, HR5 demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of the Constitution and our constitutional structure,” said Emmett McGroarty, education director at the conservative American Principles in Action, in a press release. “Although it relieves the states from some NCLB burdens, it then adds others and overall sets the stage for an expanded federal footprint in our lives.”

Similarly, Yvonne Gasperino and Glen Dalgleish, co-founders of Stop Common Core in New York State, say HR5 raises the same red flags as NCLB.

“There is language and content in HR5 that is concerning as it encroaches upon parental rights over how we seek to educate our children,” the parents told Breitbart News. “It also claims to give control back to the states while it actually just adds more fiscal strings the feds can pull, giving them greater control over the state’s educational landscape.”

Rokita said that, as a conservative himself, his preference to defund the U.S. Department of Education would never receive the necessary votes since no Democrats or moderate Republicans would agree to such a proposal.

“In football terms, while it’s not the ‘Hail Mary’ pass that would defund the Department of Education, this bill is the 40-50 yard pass completion giving authority back to parents and taxpayers at the local level,” he said. “States can walk away from federal involvement, but if they wish to apply, there are parameters. If we’re going to have a federal mechanism – and I prefer not – but if we are, accountability is a good thing.”

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