Education Politics

Conservative Senator Blasts Obama’s Pick for Secretary of Education!

Mike-Lee
Written by Onan Coca

Here at Eagle Rising we sure do love Senator Mike Lee (R-UT). Sure, he’s among the MOST conservative representatives in Congress, but that’s not the only reason we’re such big fans. He has earned our support because he is so willing to stand up and speak the truth on so many different political subjects. Whether standing with Ted Cruz against Obamacare, or with Rand Paul against attacks 1st and 4th Amendment, or with Marco Rubio on reforming our awful tax system – Senator Lee always seems to be standing on the right side of the political debate (even when he’s not the one leading the charge). For that, we thank him.

He recently showed his grit and wisdom by once again standing against President Obama, this time against federal overreach in public education.

(The video is embedded using Facebook. If you do not have a Facebook account you can see the full video here – starting around the 2:07:00 mark.)

Senator Lee Votes Against John King as Secretary of Education

Today I voted against confirming John King as the next Secretary of Education. I have studied Dr. King’s professional record – most notably his time in New York’s Department of Education. And I have reviewed the transcripts of his confirmation hearing.Based on the policies that he has supported, the bipartisan opposition he has invited throughout his career, and his uncompromising commitment to the designs of bureaucrats and central planners over the lived experiences of parents and teachers, I believe it would be a grave error for the Senate to confirm Dr. King’s nomination at this time.If confirmed, Dr. King would serve as the head of the Department for ten months, until January 2017, when the next president is sworn into office. This may sound like an insignificant amount of time for a cabinet secretary to serve.But in reality, the next ten months are crucially important to the future of federal education policy in America.Just a few months ago, Congress passed and President Obama signed the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” or ESSA – a bill that reauthorized the law governing federal K-12 education policy. And now the Department of Education will begin implementing the ESSA, which will set the course of the Department for years to come.So what happens over the next ten months within the Department of Education will have sweeping, far-reaching consequences for America’s schools, teachers, and students… consequences that will affect not just the quality of education students receive as children, but the quality of life available to them as adults.One of the most serious flaws of the ESSA – and one of the primary reasons I voted against the bill – is that it reinforces the same K-12 model that has trapped so many kids in failing schools and confined America’s education system to a state of mediocrity for half a century… this is a model that concentrates authority over education decisions in the hands of federal politicians and bureaucrats, instead of parents, teachers, principals, and local school boards.And there is no government official who is granted more discretion or more authority under the ESSA than the Secretary of Education.The ESSA purports to reduce the federal government’s control over America’s classrooms, by returning decision-making authority to parents, educators, and local officials.For instance, there are several provisions that prohibit the Secretary of Education from controlling state education plans or coercing states into adopting federal standards and testing regimes.But when you look at the fine print, you see that in most cases these prohibitions against federal overreach contain no enforcement mechanisms – only vague, aspirational statements encouraging the Secretary to limit his own powers.So the question is: if confirmed as Secretary of Education, would Dr. King adhere to the spirit of the ESSA and voluntarily return decision-making authority to parents, teachers, and local officials? There is little reason to believe that he would.Dr. King’s former boss and would-be predecessor, Arne Duncan, certainly had no qualms about violating similar prohibitions against federal overreach found in No Child Left Behind. Nor has he shied away from advertising the fact that ESSA would function in much the same way as No Child Left Behind.In an interview with Politico, Duncan discussed whether the ESSA would, in fact, reduce the federal government’s control over America’s classrooms. He was asked “How do you respond to the notion that you’ve had your wings clipped on your way out the door?”This was Duncan’s response: “…candidly, our lawyers are much smarter than many of the folks who were working on this bill.”In other words, Congress can write whatever bill it wants, and the administration’s lawyers will be able to figure out a way to implement it according to the preferences of the cabinet secretaries and their armies of bureaucrats.This is certainly a brazen admission of bureaucratic arrogance by former Secretary Duncan. But it is exactly in line with the way that Dr. King approached his job as education commissioner of New York just a few years ago.

Posted by United States Senator Mike Lee on Monday, March 14, 2016

Here is what Senator Lee had to say:

Today I voted against confirming John King as the next Secretary of Education. I have studied Dr. King’s professional record – most notably his time in New York’s Department of Education. And I have reviewed the transcripts of his confirmation hearing.

Based on the policies that he has supported, the bipartisan opposition he has invited throughout his career, and his uncompromising commitment to the designs of bureaucrats and central planners over the lived experiences of parents and teachers, I believe it would be a grave error for the Senate to confirm Dr. King’s nomination at this time.

If confirmed, Dr. King would serve as the head of the Department for ten months, until January 2017, when the next president is sworn into office. This may sound like an insignificant amount of time for a cabinet secretary to serve.

But in reality, the next ten months are crucially important to the future of federal education policy in America.

Just a few months ago, Congress passed and President Obama signed the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” or ESSA – a bill that reauthorized the law governing federal K-12 education policy. And now the Department of Education will begin implementing the ESSA, which will set the course of the Department for years to come.

Mike-LeeSo what happens over the next ten months within the Department of Education will have sweeping, far-reaching consequences for America’s schools, teachers, and students… consequences that will affect not just the quality of education students receive as children, but the quality of life available to them as adults.

One of the most serious flaws of the ESSA – and one of the primary reasons I voted against the bill – is that it reinforces the same K-12 model that has trapped so many kids in failing schools and confined America’s education system to a state of mediocrity for half a century… this is a model that concentrates authority over education decisions in the hands of federal politicians and bureaucrats, instead of parents, teachers, principals, and local school boards.

And there is no government official who is granted more discretion or more authority under the ESSA than the Secretary of Education.

The ESSA purports to reduce the federal government’s control over America’s classrooms, by returning decision-making authority to parents, educators, and local officials.

For instance, there are several provisions that prohibit the Secretary of Education from controlling state education plans or coercing states into adopting federal standards and testing regimes.

But when you look at the fine print, you see that in most cases these prohibitions against federal overreach contain no enforcement mechanisms – only vague, aspirational statements encouraging the Secretary to limit his own powers.

So the question is: if confirmed as Secretary of Education, would Dr. King adhere to the spirit of the ESSA and voluntarily return decision-making authority to parents, teachers, and local officials?

There is little reason to believe that he would.

Dr. King’s former boss and would-be predecessor, Arne Duncan, certainly had no qualms about violating similar prohibitions against federal overreach found in No Child Left Behind. Nor has he shied away from advertising the fact that ESSA would function in much the same way as No Child Left Behind.

In an interview with Politico, Duncan discussed whether the ESSA would, in fact, reduce the federal government’s control over America’s classrooms. He was asked “How do you respond to the notion that you’ve had your wings clipped on your way out the door?”

This was Duncan’s response: “…candidly, our lawyers are much smarter than many of the folks who were working on this bill.”

In other words, Congress can write whatever bill it wants, and the administration’s lawyers will be able to figure out a way to implement it according to the preferences of the cabinet secretaries and their armies of bureaucrats.

This is certainly a brazen admission of bureaucratic arrogance by former Secretary Duncan. But it is exactly in line with the way that Dr. King approached his job as education commissioner of New York just a few years ago.

 

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com


About the author

Onan Coca

Onan is the Editor-in-Chief at Liberty Alliance media group. He's also the managing editor at Eaglerising.com, Constitution.com and the managing partner at iPatriot.com. You can read more of his writing at Eagle Rising.
Onan is a graduate of Liberty University (2003) and earned his M.Ed. at Western Governors University in 2012. Onan lives in Atlanta with his wife and their three wonderful children.

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