Rand Paul on NCLB reauthorization: “This process is rotten from top to bottom”

posted at 1:35 pm on October 20, 2011 by Tina Korbe

Rather than unthinkingly reauthorize No Child Left Behind as the president would have had Congress do, the House of Representatives has conducted hearing after hearing about how best to revise it. In the Senate, however, no such process has occurred.

Instead, after a long period of relative quiet on the topic, the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), last week proposed to his committee an 868-page bill to reauthorize NCLB. Then, on Monday, he added to it an 868-page manager’s amendment, a re-working of the original dropped bill. The members of the committee had just 48 hours to wade through the manager’s amendment before the committee proceeded last night to a markup of the bill.

But Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) objected to the rush. A markup, he pointed out, is supposed to provide committee members with the chance to debate, amend and rewrite proposed legislation. How on earth could they do that, he wondered, with just 48 hours to read the proposal? So, Paul used a procedural rule to halt the markup.

Harkin took the dust-up to the Senate floor, asking the Senate to agree by unanimous consent to allow him to reconvene his committee. Passionately, Paul objected:

“I find it a tragedy that we’re operating here in the Senate by introducing an 868-page bill with 48 hours to read it,” Paul said. “I’ve been here since January and there’ve been no hearings on No Child Left Behind. I’ve 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 is in favor of No Child Left Behind. They abhor it. … This process is rotten from top to bottom.”

Paul’s objection sparked predictable cries of “obstructionism.” Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, for example, painted Paul as a senator who doesn’t care to help children in poverty receive a college education. “The senator speaks of the tragedy of this process,” Bennet said. “I’ll tell you what a tragedy is. The tragedy is that only nine of 100 children living in poverty in this country in 2011 can expect to get a college degree. That’s a tragedy.”

But, to some extent, Paul’s move worked. Not only did he manage to postpone the markup until today, buying (a very little bit) more time to read the bill, but he also prompted Sen. Harkin and HELP Ranking Member Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wy.) to call a hearing on the subject of NCLB for Nov. 8 to at least obtain a little outside input on the reauthorization of NCLB before the full Senate votes for it. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing.

The entire episode illustrates a couple important realities.

Firstly, while members of both parties agree that No Child Left Behind needs to be “fixed,” they don’t necessarily agree about what the federal role in education should be — and that’s ultimately what this debate is about. Paul gave voice to that in his objection when he said, “I’m one of the old-fashioned conservatives who does believe that schools are and should be under local and state control.” Given the federal government’s gradual encroachments in this area, Paul is right to be on guard.

Secondly, the Senate, by its pitiful attempts to seek input from those most affected by education reform, gives the appearance of being in collusion with the president’s plans to use the problems with NCLB to expand the federal role in education. Harkin says the bill does, in fact, “return a lot to local control,” and Enzi says the reforms in the bill, while not perfect, are “a start,” at least. I hope that’s true — but no harm in having a hearing or two and especially no harm in giving local-control advocates like Paul time to actually read the bill to ascertain its meaning.

Snaps to Paul for staying vigilant.


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Up twinkles for Rand.

lorien1973 on October 20, 2011 at 1:41 PM

theater, just theater.

back slapping on his Democrat counterparts backs in 5…..4…..3….

PappyD61 on October 20, 2011 at 1:44 PM

Bennet said. “I’ll tell you what a tragedy is. The tragedy is that only nine of 100 children living in poverty in this country in 2011 can expect to get a college degree. That’s a tragedy.”

I think it’s a tragedy that contemporary American culture puts so much emphasis on college.

listens2glenn on October 20, 2011 at 1:46 PM

Too bad we can’t get rid of the Department of Education yet.

Iblis on October 20, 2011 at 1:47 PM

lorien1973 on October 20, 2011 at 1:41 PM

Laugh out loud funny! (oops – I meant LOL – how uncool am I?)

ConservativeinCO on October 20, 2011 at 1:48 PM

The funny thing is that I have had liberals tell me that No Child Left Behind was a failure because of Bush. I point out that it was his and a drunken senator named Teddy. Let’s just kill it entirely!

jeffn21 on October 20, 2011 at 1:50 PM

I would be willing to bet there is something buried in that bill somewhere that either outlaws vouchers or makes them impossible to implement.

crosspatch on October 20, 2011 at 1:54 PM

I would support the NMLB (No Moron Left Behind) Act, to help people like Harkin.

TXUS on October 20, 2011 at 1:56 PM

I’d like to know who wrote those 868 pages. I bet some group none of us would like was up to their eyeballs in it.

These people are scum.

flyfisher on October 20, 2011 at 1:57 PM

Give you time to read the bill…?

… We can’t have THAT now, can we?!

Seven Percent Solution on October 20, 2011 at 2:01 PM

“This process is rotten from top to bottom”

that about sums up Washington DC.

maineconservative on October 20, 2011 at 2:07 PM

Too bad we can’t get rid of the Department of Education yet.

Iblis on October 20, 2011 at 1:47 PM

Well, there is this plan out there, published by a guy from the Gulf Coast of Texas…

JohnGalt23 on October 20, 2011 at 2:07 PM

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Up twinkles for Rand.

lorien1973 on October 20, 2011 at 1:41 PM

ROTFLOLTISFFICTAB…
(rolling on the floor laughing out loud that is so f’in funny i can’t take a breath)

right2bright on October 20, 2011 at 2:07 PM

Rand Paul on NCLB reauthorization: “This process is rotten from top to bottom”

What’s that saying about a rotting fish, from the head down….

right2bright on October 20, 2011 at 2:08 PM

Thank you, Senator Paul!!

Khun Joe on October 20, 2011 at 2:09 PM

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Up twinkles for Rand.-Lorien1973.

Trying my best not to completely fall apart at my desk at work.

SAMinVA on October 20, 2011 at 2:11 PM

One of Tina Korbe’s more substantive posts.

bifidis on October 20, 2011 at 2:12 PM

What Rand Paul says makes sense. What liberals hear, “Blah, blah, blah…”. What liberals discuss as a counterpoint to Rand Paul’s comments, “What’s for lunch”.

If you want to see real improvement in schools, get the federal government out of them!

ClanDerson on October 20, 2011 at 2:15 PM

That Rand Paul… one sharp cookie there.

Must have studied politics and ethics at the knee of a master…

JohnGalt23 on October 20, 2011 at 2:18 PM

Good thing this Country has had no child left behind…because Gates, Edison, Jobs, Whitney, Ford, Bell, and Morse would never be where they are if didn’t have the program. Oh, wait…..

Feds have no busy being in the local school business.

Oil Can on October 20, 2011 at 2:19 PM

theater, just theater.back slapping on his Democrat counterparts backs in 5…..4…..3….
PappyD61 on October 20, 2011 at 1:44 PM

Good try, sorry but he’s sincere. I’m proud he is my Senator. I can rest easy & don’t have to waste time calling his office asking for him to vote conservatively. The rest of the country – get your act together.

HellCat on October 20, 2011 at 2:20 PM

it is still almost 2000 PAGES! WTF OVER? How about 100 pages, if it is more complex than that, it needs to be handled by the local governments.

rgranger on October 20, 2011 at 2:22 PM

Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, for example, painted Paul as a senator who doesn’t care to help children in poverty receive a college education. “The senator speaks of the tragedy of this process,” Bennet said. “I’ll tell you what a tragedy is. The tragedy is that only nine of 100 children living in poverty in this country in 2011 can expect to get a college degree. That’s a tragedy.”

So says the former head of the Denver school district who left the district in worse financial shape then when he took over.
I have little sympathy for the school districts either as they spend more time on self-esteem than they do education.
A college degree is so damn important that colleges are wasting time teaching what students should have learned in high school.

jdkchem on October 20, 2011 at 2:28 PM

Well, there is this plan out there, published by a guy from the Gulf Coast of Texas…

JohnGalt23 on October 20, 2011 at 2:07 PM

Reagan was from Texas?

jdkchem on October 20, 2011 at 2:29 PM

Bennet said. “I’ll tell you what a tragedy is. The tragedy is that only nine of 100 children living in poverty in this country in 2011 can expect to get a college degree. That’s a tragedy.”

Thank you Bennet for pointing out the failure of ‘No Child Left Behind. Kill the law if its such a failure.

dominigan on October 20, 2011 at 2:33 PM

Why are they even bothering with this farce called no child left behind?

I can only assume it is cover for yet another handout to teachers unions.

Anyone wanna bet there is a trap door that renders all of it’s provisions useless to public sector teacher unions and trashes any private school? I wonder if there is some sort of anti-homeschooling provision tucked in there as well?

Freddy on October 20, 2011 at 2:37 PM

Harkin says the bill does, in fact, “return a lot to local control,”

Er, forgive me for not taking you at your word, you sniveling snake. Give us time to read what’s in it and we’ll see just how much local control is given back. Til then, take a hike, you elitist fraternity scumbag.

GoodSamaritan on October 20, 2011 at 2:57 PM

Wait . . . don’t we have to pass the bill to know what’s in it?? Harkin uses the Pelosi ploy. Absolutely disgusting! Remember all those Tea Party town hall chants: “Read the bill! Read the bill!” It’s deja vu all over again. Dems have learned nothing since. Kudos to Rand Paul for calling them on this.

Bob in VA on October 20, 2011 at 3:12 PM

You don’t need a 868 page amendment to a bill to get out of meddling in school districts.

Just don’t fund it and it goes away.

Pretty simple, one would think.

ajacksonian on October 20, 2011 at 3:32 PM

The only way to fix education is to outlaw teachers’ unions, and that won’t happen, at least in my lifetime, but I think that vouchers would do immense good, until the unions found a way to get rid of school choice.

flataffect on October 20, 2011 at 4:18 PM

“I’ll tell you what a tragedy is. The tragedy is that only nine of 100 children living in poverty in this country in 2011 can expect to get a college degree. That’s a tragedy.”

Oh, I know, Senator Harkin. We really need another 99 ‘Critical Dance’ majors out there borrowing $150k for their degree so they can turn around and earn $40 on the weekend… dancing… critically? And then camping out in a park somewhere whining how life is unfair and the rest of us should pay off their loans.

Tragic, indeed.

Midas on October 20, 2011 at 4:31 PM

The tragedy is everyone thinking that a college degree is the be-all, end-all of success. For every professional student that collects college degrees that will never pay for themselves there is a Steve Jobs that drops out and makes a success of himself.

A degree is nice, education is nice…but oh, the horror if someone can’t get a Comparative Literature degree. That doesn’t help the economy of a family, much less a country.

search4truth on October 20, 2011 at 4:31 PM

Ack, quote ws from Bennett, not Harkin (my bad).

Midas on October 20, 2011 at 4:32 PM

I wish I could grab Rand Paul and give him a HUGE hug. Finally there is a senator who understands the proper role of the Federal government and the role of the states.

Here are some items in this bill:

For example, the bill would codify Obama Administration education priorities, such as the “equitable distribution” of effective teachers among schools. It would eliminate “adequate yearly progress”—the onerous federal requirement that mandated every child be proficient in reading and math by 2014—but would replace it with requirements that states prove they have “college- and career-ready” standards, giving Washington more control over the content taught in local schools.

This is from: http://www.utahsrepublic.org/the-marxist-redistribution-of-teachers-and-forced-ccss/

Harkin’s comment that this gives back “local control” is about as true as the statement Obamacare would lower costs and you could keep your own doctor.

manateespirit on October 20, 2011 at 5:31 PM

This is the same ‘procedure’ they used to pass the porkulus and Ocare. Pass it and then read it to find out what’s in it. Next year we’ll be fighting this monster in each state court, federal court and on to the SC.

Kissmygrits on October 20, 2011 at 5:41 PM

Here is the form to lend your support (or your online up twinkle) to Senator Paul:

http://paul.senate.gov/?p=contact

manateespirit on October 20, 2011 at 6:11 PM

I envy people who got Rand Paul for a senator, we’re stuck with Michael Bennet, thanks to the incompetent GOP in Colorado.

Great speech, exactly right on the policy, but gaining a few extra hours to read the bill and having some token input from teachers, will just result in the same old thing, the bill will be passed.

The only way to really change things and get back to our Constitutional roots is to elect a majority of Tea Party-minded people to Congress next year. If people like Rand Paul control both the House and the Senate, THEN we’ll see real change. Until then, more of the same.

After all of the austerity talk this year, the Feds still spent $120 billion more this year, so far, than last year and the most ever in a single year in US history. Some austerity.

Common Sense on October 20, 2011 at 6:13 PM

manateespirit on October 20, 2011 at 5:31 PM

Great!!! So the Dems’ 1700+ page bill eliminates measurement of results, yet still manages to get the Federal government into the business of writing or approving curriculum???

It should be entitled “No Child Lacks Indoctrination”!!!

(…and the kids still won’t learn enough reading and math to hold down a job in the fast food industry)

landlines on October 20, 2011 at 6:37 PM

So this isn’t a “miss me yet?”?

nottakingsides on October 20, 2011 at 7:59 PM

Good try, sorry but he’s sincere. I’m proud he is my Senator. I can rest easy & don’t have to waste time calling his office asking for him to vote conservatively. The rest of the country – get your act together.

HellCat on October 20, 2011 at 2:20 PM

He is a very hard working Senator and a Patriot. He’s not my Senator but I emailed him to thank him on another issue and now I receive email updates!! I really appreciate it.

I’ll probably email him and thank him about this. We need more Senators like him!!

bluefox on October 20, 2011 at 10:52 PM