Kentucky’s junior senator, Republican Rand Paul stood up today in opposition to a continuation of the federal No Child Left Behind law. In response to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee giving members merely 48 hours to read and discuss the 868-page No Child Left Behind/Elementary and Secondary Education Act amendment bill, Sen. Paul filed 74 amendments of his own and immediately insisted the committee first read the bill, find out what is in the bill, and hear from those it would most affect.
Today, the HELP Committee, following Sen. Paul’s legislative action, held a markup session to discuss the amendments proposed and ways forward. Members discussed the bill and at Sen. Paul’s urging, scheduled a new hearing to be held Nov. 8. Sen. Paul then forced a vote in committee to repeal No Child Left Behind in its entirety, to which only Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) concurred.
Sen. Paul issued this statement following the markup:
“Today’s news of the hearing offers an opportunity for teachers, superintendents, parents, and students across the country. The HELP Committee will hold a hearing where these groups will be involved in the process to fix No Child Left Behind and offer their opinions on the pending legislation.
“I’ve been here nearly a year and until my urging, there have been no hearings on No Child Left Behind. I have seen no hearings that involved those most affected by this legislation and I think this is an affront to the process.
“I have sought the input of many teachers and education groups and they shared both a similar concern and position. They would like to be involved in an open political process. They also weren’t in favor of No Child Left Behind. In fact, they wanted more local control. But, I’d like to hear from as many teachers, administrators, and parents as possible, which is why I am asking them to contact my office and share their opinion on No Child Left Behind before the next hearing.”
Transcript of Senator Paul’s address today in the Senate:
I’ve been here since January and there have been no hearings on No Child Left Behind. I have had no hearings that involve teachers, no hearings that involve superintendents, no hearings that involve principals. I think this is an affront to the process.
As I go around my state and I talk to teachers, I’ve yet to meet one teacher who’s in favor of No Child Left Behind. They abhor it. They hate all the stuff we are telling them what to do from Washington. They want more local control.
I’m one of the old-fashioned conservatives who does believe that schools are and should be under local and state control. There’s no provision in the constitution for the federal government to be involved period. This was part of the Republican platform for nearly 30 years that we didn’t believe in federal control. We wanted to leave local control.
I met with six teachers recently from Madera County. Many of them are special ed teachers. They like what they do. They like teaching kids who have difficulty learning and have to be fought in a different fashion in order to get through to these kids; but they showed me a cute little boy, 15 years old, who has a three-word vocabulary. He’s tested in world geography and the teacher is told that she’s a bad teacher because the child, who has a three-world vocabulary, did poorly on testing.
This is insane, and it needs to be discussed in a rational fashion. We need to have teachers involved in the process, for goodness’s sakes, principals, super-intendants.
I have a letter here from the American Association of School Administrators, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Education Association, the National School Boards Association, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and they say “we hope that in getting this important work of getting policy right we will not be pushed to the side in a race against the clock.”
I feel pushed aside. 868-page bill and 48 hours to read it. It is wrong. All I am asking for is a hearing to listen to teachers. Should we not listen to the teachers? A hearing to listen to the superintendents. A hearing to listen to the principals. Let them read the bill and find out what’s in the bill.
I am not going to accept what Nancy Pelosi said you can read about it after the fact. That’s the process here. 868 pages? When are we going to read it? After they pass it.
Who’s been involved in crafting this legislation? I’m on the committee. Nobody asked me, nobody consulted with me, and I think that’s the same with most of the people on the committee.
The letter from this group also says, we note that the proposed law is still heavily reliant on the idea of testing every child, every year through one single high-stakes assessment. There are many problems.
I would be in favor of getting rid of No Child Left Behind. No teachers are for it. I’d like to see a survey of teachers. I would like it have the teachers do a survey of their population that says, who’s in favor of “No Child Left Behind” before we act?
I would like teachers to propose amendments to my office to fix “no child left behind” if we’re not going to scrap it. I would like to hear from the superintendents. What do you think of this 868-page bill we got yesterday or on Monday? What do you think of this bill and how can we make it better?
We will not have time to hear from them because we’re struggling to get through the 868 pages and another 1,000 pages of amendments. This process is rotten from the top to the bottom, and what I would ask for is that we have a hearing.
Let’s invite teachers to Washington, let’s invite superintendents, let’s invite principals to Washington. Let’s find out what they think of No Child Left Behind before we rush through an 868-page bill that no one has had time to read.
This is what’s wrong with Washington. This is the type of arrogance about the way Washington works that is really making us unpopular in the public’s eyes.
I say fix “No Child Left Behind” repeal it or fix it, but at least give us time read the bill. And I object to this unanimous consent.
Video of Senator Paul’s address today in the Senate:
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