"Issues and Action in Education"

Returning NCLB Accountability to Voters

A-PLUS Act (HR 1539) Introduced in Congress

 An e-letter produced by EdWatch, a nonprofit organization. 

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Posted on March 19, 2007

        Last week 52 members of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced the Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success Act of 2007 (A-PLUS, HR 1539) which would return educational accountability back to parents, taxpayers, and the state, where it belongs. No Child Left Behind currently holds states and schools accountable to federal agencies for specific annual school outcomes, policies the U.S. Constitution clearly reserves to the states. (See "Why Re-authorize No Child Left Behind?", EdWatch, Dec 4, 2006)

        According to Congressman chief author Pete Hoekstra, this legislation would give all states the option of providing the Secretary of Education with a “declaration of intent” to assume full responsibility for the education of their students. They would continue to receive federal support, but they would be free to advance their own policies.  “The A-PLUS Act will restore accountability to parents and schools as states advance individually tailored academic policies," Hoekstra announced.

        "HR 1539 is an incredible opportunity for Congress to get it right," stated Renee Doyle, President of EdWatch. "It puts accountability back where is should be -- in the hands of parents, taxpayers and state government." EdWatch was an early and vocal opponent of NCLB, leading up to its passage. "We expect HF 1539 will be popular with teachers, parents, and taxpayers, " Doyle continued. "It should gain strong public support. Many states have had broad public support for withdrawing from NCLB."

        Some of the HR 1539 sponsors supported NCLB in 2001, including Republican Whip Roy Blunt, the 2nd ranking Republican. Others had voted against the Ted Kennedy/ Hillary Clinton/ President Bush education initiative when it passed in 2001. Still other sponsors are freshman members, such as Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Tim Walberg of Michigan. Mrs. Bachmann led the opposition to NCLB in the Minnesota legislature while serving as a state senator from 2001 to 2006. She introduced bi-partisan legislation to remove Minnesota from NCLB, which passed the Minnesota Senate Education Committee unanimously. It eventually passed the Senate, but was gutted in the House.

        "The overriding intrusion in No Child Left Behind is too large to deal with unless you fundamentally change the legislation," Roy Blunt told the Associated Press.

        Chief author Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan told CNS News, "With No Child Left Behind we shifted down the road toward federal government education. We are now on the road to a national curriculum, national accountability, national testing...and then we will also have a process of federally mandated corrections standards for those who don't meet the standards." Hoekstra added, "Every school in the country will begin to look exactly the same. Say goodbye to local control, and say hello to federal government schools."

        Susan Neuman, former assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education at the Department of Education, also told CNS News, "This notion that by 2014 all children will be proficient is a fantasy, and it's rhetoric and it's unfortunate, and it's turning people against and afraid of our schools,"

        Neal McCluskey, a political analyst with the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute, said, "Federal education programs live or die by whether or not they work politically, not academically." Dr. Karen Effrem of EdWatch said it is for that reason that, "every member of Congress should be on this list of bill sponsors. NCLB was never a good plan for academics," Effrem stated. "It was always about politics, which is exactly why education should be out of the hands of Washington, DC bureaucrats. Take our schools out of the hands of politicians and put them back in the hands of the local communities."

        "We expect an outpouring of public support for this bill," said Effrem, "and it will take that kind of effort. Congress doesn't willingly release its hold on anything. It's time for people to speak up clearly, with a united voice."

Current sponsors of HR 1539
Rep Akin, W. Todd [MO-2], Rep Bachmann, Michele [MN-6], Rep Barrett, J. Gresham [SC-3], Rep Bartlett, Roscoe G. [MD-6], Rep Bishop, Rob [UT-1], Rep Blackburn, Marsha [TN-7], Rep Blunt, Roy [MO-7], Rep Campbell, John [CA-48], Rep Cannon, Chris [UT-3], Rep Cantor, Eric [VA-7], Rep Culberson, John Abney [TX-7], Rep Doolittle, John T. [CA-4], Rep Feeney, Tom [FL-24], Rep Flake, Jeff [AZ-6], Rep Foxx, Virginia [NC-5], Rep Franks, Trent [AZ-2], Rep Garrett, Scott [NJ-5], Rep Gilchrest, Wayne T. [MD-1], Rep Gingrey, Phil [GA-11], Rep Gohmert, Louie [TX-1], Rep Goode, Virgil H., Jr. [VA-5], Rep Goodlatte, Bob [VA-6], Rep Hensarling, Jeb [TX-5], Rep Inglis, Bob [SC-4], Rep Issa, Darrell E. [CA-49], Rep Jones, Walter B., Jr. [NC-3], Rep Kingston, Jack [GA-1], Rep Lewis, Ron [KY-2], Rep Linder, John [GA-7], Rep Manzullo, Donald A. [IL-16], Rep McHenry, Patrick T. [NC-10], Rep Moran, Jerry [KS-1], Rep Musgrave, Marilyn N. [CO-4], Rep Paul, Ron [TX-14], Rep Pence, Mike [IN-6], Rep Pitts, Joseph R. [PA-16], Rep Price, Tom [GA-6], Rep Ramstad, Jim [MN-3], Rep Rogers, Mike J. [MI-8], Rep Rohrabacher, Dana [CA-46], Rep Sali, Bill [ID-1], Rep Sensenbrenner, F. James, Jr. [WI-5], Rep Shadegg, John B. [AZ-3], Rep Tancredo, Thomas G. [CO-6], Rep Thornberry, Mac [TX-13], Rep Tiahrt, Todd [KS-4], Rep Walberg, Timothy [MI-7], Rep Weldon, Dave [FL-15], Rep Westmoreland, Lynn A. [GA-3], Rep Wilson, Joe [SC-2]

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