GOP: Education system 'congested' with mandates
June 15th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
1 year ago

GOP: Education system 'congested' with mandates

(CNN) - A Senate committee voted this week to move forward with a Democratic-backed education plan, but Republicans argue the proposal forces the country's school systems to further rely on the federal government.

"Over the last decade, the United States Department of Education has become so congested with federal mandates that it has actually become, in effect, a national school board," Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, said Saturday in the GOP weekly address.

"If you remember the childhood game, 'Mother, May I?' then you have a pretty good sense of how the process works-states must come to Washington for approval of their plans to educate their students," he continued.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions approved a bill called "Strengthening America's Schools Act," which was filed by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

The ESEA was originally passed in 1965 and requires periodic reauthorization. The current version of the law, No Child Left Behind, was passed under the George W. Bush administration and requires states to set higher standards with greater accountability through standardized testing.

Republicans, however, say the federal government is too involved in students' education and argue the task should be left to local governments.

"Republicans voted to move in a different direction," Alexander said, talking about a bill he proposed that failed to make it out of committee. Alexander said they put forward a 220-page plan that restores "responsibility to states and communities."

"It rejects federal mandates that create a national school board, and prohibits the Education Secretary from prescribing standards or accountability systems for states," he added. "It continues the requirement that states have high standards and quality tests, but doesn't prescribe those standards."

Education is also a hotly debated item on another front this summer, as Congress has until July 1 to reach a deal in order to avoid a doubling of the interest rate for undergraduates borrowing new subsidized federal student loans.

While neither party wants the rate to go up, Republicans and Democrats disagree over how to solve the problem. Republicans wants to tie the rate to economic factors and cap the interest rate at 8.5%.

"It's fairer to students and fairer to taxpayers," Alexander said.

Democrats want Congress to decide the rate, but propose no cap. They would instead include a program to limit a former student's annual expenditures on the loan to no more than 10% of discretionary income.

– CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: Education • Lamar Alexander • Republicans
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Ortho Stice

    As a teacher, I don't often agree with the GOP, but they are spot on in this case. Trace the so-called "decline" of American public education, and all roads lead to 1979 with the establishment of the DOE.

    June 15, 2013 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  2. Dee Campbell

    At this point in time I do not think states have the proper people in government to rule on education. Most states are passing laws that will harm education. Remember children are our future and they must be educated.

    June 15, 2013 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    Federal meddling has become a problem in every state, town, and community, in this country. It is a disease.......literally.

    June 15, 2013 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  4. Thomas

    "Over the last decade, the United States Department of Education has become so congested with federal mandates that it has actually become, in effect, a national school board," Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee,

    (US News & World Report) provides recent rankings of each State's public Education system and has Tennessee at #36
    The education ranking was a poor 42nd, based on the dropout rate, preschool attendance and performance in math and reading.
    Tennessee ranks third nationally in the amount of state grant aid per child .

    Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, is full of bull .

    June 15, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  5. Evergreen

    Federal government has a valid interest in ensuring that the USA has a well educated population capable of competing with and exceeding other countries. The American people can lead the way in the 21st Century and beyond. But we can't do it if we are not the smartest people on the planet.

    June 15, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  6. GI Joe

    Too may states cut funds for education and healthcare so they can give tax breaks to the mucky mucks - **cough** republican states.

    June 15, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  7. MartyGRMI

    I think the federal government should only be involved, from a standards perspective, to set minimum standards and ones that are not high. What I mean is, they should verify students know how to read, can balance a check book, understands how investments/debt work (401k, IRA, stocks, Savings), knowledge of American and World history (and not just the nice stuff), How to write simple business papers, how government/voting works and some degree of critical thinking. The basics for a citizen to function in our society. States and local communities should be left with defining everything above that.

    Too often we try and make people 'well rounded' by making them learn things they will never use. For example, the vast majority of the population will never use anything beyond 8th grade math. Why teach them algebra, trig, geometry or calc? Doing this should satisfy the federal interest and still give leeway to local governments to design their own plan.

    June 15, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  8. Thomas

    @Rick McDaniel
    Federal meddling has become a problem in every state, town, and community, in this country. It is a disease.......literally.

    =====
    I'm sure you would think of the Federal Disease control center in Atlanta as a useless disease .

    Listening to you is like being in a house with out plumbing or electricity .

    June 15, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  9. dixie

    I don't care which party wants to change the system. The system is broken in so many ways and the children suffer for it. Teachers have to worry about standerd tests to the point that they don't have the time to do what they became teacher for which is to guide younge minds to think.

    June 15, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  10. jboh

    Anything from a senator from the Scopes Monkey Trial state is unworthy of consideration. TEA/GOP want to keep people ignorant. Uneducated people are easier to fool.

    June 15, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  11. ThinkAgain

    @Rick McDaniel: "Federal meddling has become a problem in every state, town, and community, in this country. It is a disease.......literally."

    The disease is the ignorance of the people who vote Republican, believing every lie and being easily manipulated into voting against their own self-interest. Your foolish behavior is harming our country – but you are all too dumb to see it.

    This call to reform education in this manner is just another excuse to ultimately privatize education, where only those lucky enough to be born into wealth can afford to have their children educated.

    You want to know what that looks like? MOVE TO INDIA.

    June 15, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  12. ThinkAgain

    @Ortho Stice; "As a teacher, I don't often agree with the GOP, but they are spot on in this case. Trace the so-called "decline" of American public education, and all roads lead to 1979 with the establishment of the DOE."

    Maybe your schools are bad because you're a lousy teacher?

    June 15, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  13. rs

    Mandates..... and in Red states like Arizona- a complete lack of state funding.
    These are just very feeble excuses from the GOP for not funding public education. In reality, they are the anti-education party. They're just too dishonest to say that in public.

    June 15, 2013 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  14. Debbie

    Just a reminder Lamar....NCLB was all G. W. Bush. Talk about mandates.

    June 15, 2013 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  15. Minnie Mouse

    We need to stop competing with other countries in education, and do what's affordable. It's not mandating that all school get computer technology/high speed internet. If so, there would be no real education because we could all leave our kids at home at teach them ourselves on our own computers!

    June 15, 2013 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  16. geggyg

    @Ortho Stice
    I don't know what the Department of Energy ( DOE) has to do with education As a teacher you should know the official abbreviation is ED or unofficially as DoED
    Yes that's when the current Dept of Education was renamed and made a cabinet level position , but as a teacher I hope you realise that the Dept actually existed continuously from 1867 , under various names ,Department , Office or Bureau . I hope as a teacher you also know that the Fed govt started the national University/College system

    June 15, 2013 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  17. Name Uche Agonsi

    No matter how you attach the word 'UGLY' to 'LOOK', it still does not sound good......Sen. Lamar Alexander & the Repubs in this Congress should take blame for forestalling America's future progress. They make us, as admirers of US progress, now weep for America. They act out of time with realities either with destructive deliberation or delusionarily. Either way does not sound good for America. Education is among the issues that should not be subjected to hate politics or unnecessary negativism of political concepts.......... Thats why in this modern world no healthy idea in Education should be ignored be it from the Fed, States, or Local govts. These ideas must be designed to compliment each other.

    June 15, 2013 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  18. Pete

    The problem with education as with government is simple,too many chiefs,not enough Indians..Remember its been republicans with their stances of the dumbing down of America cutting public sector teachers jobs,schools educational funding and just recently railed against Pres.Obama bill of lowering college loan rates which the republicans called a government hand out,remember republicans I do!!How bout Romney telling an interviewer during the presidencial campaigns to go ask your father for 20 gran like it was chump change and I remember that don't you,typical of of touch republicans the true party of NO nothings!!

    June 16, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |