(Video) Jane Robbins: What is FEPA?

Jane Robbins, a senior fellow at American Principles Project, recorded this short video for Red Kudzu explaining what the Foundations of Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (S. 2046) is and what it will do if passed by the U.S. Senate.

The bill is before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or use the contact info below and ask them to oppose S. 2046, the Foundations of Evidence-Based Policymaking Act.

Here is the list of the committee members along with their Twitter handles and office phone numbers.

The primary issue with FEPA is that it would create a “unified evidence-building plan” for the entire federal government – in essence, a national database containing data from every federal agency on every citizen.

Tracking FEPA in the U.S. Senate

The Foundations of Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (FEPA) (H.R. 4174) passed in the U.S. House of Representatives after the rules were suspended and a voice vote taken. The Senate companion bill (S.2046) was introduced by U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) who is the ranking member of the Senate HELP Committee.

The Senate bill has been read twice and was referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Here is the list of the committee members along with their Twitter handles and office phone numbers.

The primary issue with FEPA is that it would create a “unified evidence-building plan” for the entire federal government – in essence, a national database containing data from every federal agency on every citizen.

What could possibly go wrong there?

Please read and share this one-pager on the bill about why student privacy advocates have grave concerns about this bill.

Federal Education Bills That Return Local and State Control

Photo credit: UpstateNYer (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Photo credit: UpstateNYer (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Congressman Scott Garrett (R-NJ) filed the right type of bill instead of the behemoth ESEA/NCLB authorization bill H.R. 121, the Local Education Authority Returns Now Act, gives states the ability to opt out of federal education grants.

Here is the summary of the bill:

This bill requires the Secretary of the Treasury to make an annual determination of states that have chosen to opt-out of K-12 education grant programs and the Secretary of Education to determine credits due to states as opt-out state education amounts.

The bill also amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow individual taxpayers in states that opt-out a refundable tax credit for a share of the opt-out amount creditable to such states.

Then there is H.R. 524, Local Control of Education Act, sponsored by Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) and has 39 cosponsors.

Here is the summary of this bill:

This legislation will restore local control of education by prohibiting the federal government from mandating that states adopt a specific curriculum or set of academic standards, such as Common Core. It will also prohibit the federal government from using grants or waivers to mandate or incentivize states into adopting Common Core, thus ensuring that local control is left to the states. For states that already adopted Common Core, it would ensure that any previous requirements for waivers would be void and the Secretary of Education would be prohibited from requiring states to agree to any new conditions in order to keep their existing waiver.

This legislation helps to counteract the unprecedented federal overreach of the last several years into instructional content, academic standards, and assessments.

I’ve written about the LOCAL Level Act in the U.S. Senate sponsored by U.S. Senator Pat Roberts before.  It now has a bill number – S.182.  It currently has four co-sponsors in the Senate: U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Rob Portman (R-OH) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).

The primary problem with this bill is not the intent behind it, but that it amends ESEA.  We want to sunset ESEA/NCLB.  Call this bill plan B so to speak.  If it could be written in a way that it stands alone I’d be more excited about it.

Here is the summary of that bill:

Learning Opportunities Created At Local Level Act or the LOCAL Level Act

Expresses the sense of Congress that state and local prerogatives over elementary and secondary education need to be preserved.

Amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) to prohibit any federal officer or employee from directly or indirectly, through grants, contracts, or other cooperative agreements under the ESEA:

  • mandating, directing, or controlling a state’s local educational agency’s (LEA’s) or school’s specific instructional content, academic standards, assessments, curriculum, or program of instruction;
  • incentivizing such an entity’s adoption of any specific instructional content, academic standards, assessments, curriculum, or program of instruction;
  • mandating a state or any subdivision thereof to spend any funds or incur any costs not paid for under the ESEA; or
  • conditioning the availability of financial support on a state’s LEA’s, or school’s adoption of any specific instructional content, academic standards, assessments, curriculum, or program of instruction, even if such conditions are specified under any other Act.

Prohibits any funds provided to the Department of Education under the ESEA from being used by the Department directly or indirectly, through grants, contracts, or other cooperative agreements, to endorse, approve, develop, require, or sanction any elementary or secondary school curriculum.

Prohibits conditioning any state’s receipt of ESEA assistance on the approval or certification of its academic standards by the federal government.

Includes in the prohibition against the use of ESEA funds on federally sponsored testing and testing materials such use on any assessment or testing materials aligned to the Common Core State Standards or any other academic standards common to a significant number of states. Prohibits the use of Race to the Top funds, provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, on such aligned assessment or testing materials.

While we call on Congressman John Kline (R-MN) and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to sunset ESEA/NCLB we should also let them know the types of bills we are for.

Roberts Introduces LOCAL Level Act

Photo credit: UpstateNYer (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Photo credit: UpstateNYer (CC-By-SA 3.0)

U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) introduced a bill, the Learning Opportunities Created At the Local (LOCAL) Level Act, on Friday last week that would forbid the federal government from intervening in a state’s education standards, curricula, and assessments through the use of incentives, mandates, grants, waivers or any other form of manipulation.

Roberts was joined in introducing the bill by U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).  Roberts, a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will fight to include this legislation in the committee’s consideration of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

“Setting high standards for our schools, our teachers and our children is the right thing to do, but those standards should be decided in Kansas, without bribes or mandates from Washington,” Roberts said. “We need to get the federal government out of the classroom, and return community decisions back to where they belong – in the community.”

“Decisions about what content students should be taught have enormous consequences for children and so should be made as close as possible to the affected parents and students,” Grassley said. “Federal interference in this area disrupts the direct line of accountability between parents and those making decisions about their children’s education.  It also takes away needed flexibility from state education leaders to make changes as they learn more about what works and what does not.  As I have before, I plan to urge the Appropriations Committee to include language blocking funding for the Administration’s overreach in this area.  In the meantime, I’ll continue to work with Senator Roberts to ensure that the law is amended to stop such overreach permanently.”

“The best education is the one that is shaped by parents and local leaders who know first-hand the children and communities their standards and goals impact,” Inhofe said. “This legislation reins in big government regulations being issued by the Department of Education and returns education decisions back to the parents, teachers, and local leaders who are on the front lines of advancing our children’s future. With more than 660,000 children enrolled in public schools across Oklahoma, it is pivotal we ensure that state and local school boards continue to have the authority needed to carry out education policy decisions.”

“Decisions about education curriculum should be made at the local or state level – not from Washington,” Portman stated. “Having a one-size-fits-all Washington approach to education is harmful to our children and to our education system. We should allow states and local communities the flexibility to innovate and make their own education decisions. The federal government does have a key supporting role to play in improving our workforce, and I have led efforts to streamline and improve our worker retraining programs while giving states additional flexibility.”

Roberts’ efforts to permanently prohibit the Administration’s interference with state education decisions through authorization language have been complemented by Senator Grassley’s efforts to address the problem through the appropriations process.