Reps. Todd Rokita and Ralph Norman Co-Sponsor Bill to End U.S. Education Department

Repeal-Common-Core AP PhotoThe Tennessean

Two more U.S. representatives have co-sponsored a bill that would end the U.S. Education Department by December of 2018.

Reps. Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Ralph Norman (R-SC) have added themselves as co-sponsors of the legislation introduced in February by Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie.

The bill, H.R. 899, contains only one sentence and states: “The Department of Education Shall Terminate on December 31, 2018.”

“Neither Congress nor the President, through his appointees, has the constitutional authority to dictate how and what our children must learn,” Massie said in a press release announcing the bill.

“Congressman Norman believes that parents, teachers, and principals should dictate how students learn,” said Jessica Cahill, Norman’s communications director, in a statement to Breitbart News. “Education policy should be handled at the state and local level, not by 4,000 un-elected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.”

Rokita is currently chairman of the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, and a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by vulnerable incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly (D).

In a statement to Breitbart News, Rokita said about his decision to co-sponsor the legislation and his current role as chairman of an education subcommittee:

In my role, I have focused on returning power to the states, stopping Common Core and promoting school choice to foster competition and ensure all students have access to quality education regardless of their parent’s income. When our bill, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was passed and signed into law, we started the greatest devolution of power to the states in decades. Ultimately, our goals should still be to limit the federal government to only those duties enumerated within the Constitution, so it is right to continue to take steps in that direction.

Some Indiana education and Constitution activists, however, have noted that ESSA neither repealed the Common Core mandate, nor prohibited the education secretary from coercing states into adopting the standards.

Indiana parent activist Erin Tuttle – along with American Principles Project senior fellow Jane Robbins – quoted from the ESSA law at Pulse 2016 and commented on its meaning:

“Each State shall demonstrate that the challenging academic standards are aligned with entrance requirements for credit-bearing coursework in the system of public higher education in the State and relevant State career and technical education standards.” This is simply another way of saying states must have “college- and career-ready” standards. And as made clear by the U.S. Department of Education’s own materials, “college- and career-ready” means Common Core.

Massie himself told Breitbart News during an interview in February:

A couple years ago we reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) – we called it ESSA, the Every Student Succeeds Act, and I voted against it, because, although it did ameliorate Common Core, it substituted new requirements for the old requirements. It’s sort of like Groundhog Day, I told my fellow legislators – “Look, this is going to be a new ‘Core.’ Instead of the ‘Common Core,’ if we prescribe these requirements – and here’s the conditions for the funding.” And one of my colleagues told me on the floor of the House, “You can’t expect us to give it back to the states without conditions, do you?” And I said, “Yeah, I do. I think the states can make these decisions.”

Nevertheless, Tuttle hopes Rokita will follow through with support to end federal involvement in education.

“Co-sponsoring Massie’s bill to terminate the U.S. Department of Education is a promising step,” she tells Breitbart News.

The co-leader of Hoosiers Against Common Core adds:

What Indiana voters want to know, however, is will Rokita sponsor similar legislation and fight to get it passed into law if they elect him to the Senate? His failure to sponsor such legislation after serving several years as a member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce raises some doubts.

Vivian Himelick of the Coalition of Central Indiana Tea Parties tells Breitbart News that Rokita maintained the Obama administration had “misinterpreted” the ESSA legislation.

“But that should be corrected by now under DeVos if that is correct,” she says and explains how the strings attached to accepting federal monies have led to federal control of more schools:

The disturbing part is that schools previously exempted from Common Core – if they take vouchers now – come under the assessment guidelines, including data gathered and sent back to the federal department of education. Many Christian schools that now accept vouchers are roped into Common Core curricula, as they need to teach to the required assessment.

In addition to Rokita and Norman, the other co-sponsors of the bill to end the federal education department are: Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA), Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX), and Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC).


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