Lesko Introduces Make Education Local Act

Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (R-Arizona) Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (R-Arizona)
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (R-Arizona) introduced the Make Education Local Act of 2018 (H.R. 6259) that, in comparison to the Every Student Succeeds Act, would provide states much more flexibility.

If you’ve read my articles here you understand that the term flexibility as it relates to the Every Student Succeeds Act is something I scoff at.

Lesko’s bill, outside of Congressman Thomas Massie’s (R-Kentucky) bill to shutter the U.S. Department of Education, seems to be one that offers the most progress toward reducing (albeit not eliminating) federal control in K-12 education.

The bill would allow individual states to submit their own education plans, known as a State Management Decision, to the U.S. Secretary of Education. After approval by the U.S. Department of Education, all federal funding programs would roll into one pot of money for the state to implement their individualized education plan.

I bristle at the phrase “approval,” but reading the text of the bill I relaxed a little:

The Secretary shall review the State management decision received from the State Designated Officer not more than 60 days after the date of receipt of such decision, and shall approve, with respect to permitting the State to receive the funds described in subsection (a), such State management decision unless the State management decision fails to meet the requirements under subsection (c). (emphasis mine)

Here are the requirements under subsection (c). Each State management decision shall contain:

  1. a list of eligible programs that are subject to the State management decision;
  2. an assurance that the submission of the State management decision has been authorized by the State Authorizing Officials, specifying the identity of the State Designated Officer;
  3. the duration of the State management decision;
  4. an assurance that the State will use fiscal control and fund accounting procedures;
  5. an assurance that the State will meet the requirements of applicable Federal civil rights laws in carrying out the State management decision and in consolidating and using the funds under the State management decision;
  6. an assurance that in implementing the State management decision the State will seek to advance educational opportunities for the disadvantaged;
  7. a description of the plan for maintaining direct accountability to parents and other citizens of the State;
  8. an assurance that in implementing the State management decision, the State will seek to use Federal funds to supplement, rather than supplant, State education funding; and
  9. a description of how the State will address persistently failing public schools.

So here’s a summary of what this bill offers:

  • Allows states to submit a State Management Decision to the Secretary of Education that is valid for between 5 and 10 years.
  • A State Management Decision allows a state to be waived from all provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act and allows for that state to consolidate all federal education dollars into one single grant.
  • Protects the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act dollars from being consolidated and provisions of the law from being waived.
  • Increases transparency by requiring a state in their State Management Decision to outline their plan for using the dollars and how they will inform parents of student achievement.
  • Ensures accountability by requiring participating states to publish a yearly report of student performance and a description of how the state used federal funds to improve academic achievement and a yearly report with information for the public regarding other high-quality school options and choices.
  • Gives states the flexibility to financially account and consolidate federal education dollars in any way they choose.

There is private school language in the bill that could cause concern for some, I’m ambivilent.

There is a mandate for a state to report on other options within the state in their “report for student progress. Section 3(c)(2) reads that the report shall include, “a description of other high-quality school options available to parents in the State.”

Section 5 deals with private school participation.

Each State consolidating and using funds pursuant to a State management decision under this Act shall provide for the participation of private school children and teachers in the activities assisted under the State management decision in the same manner as participation is provided to private school children and teachers under section 9501 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7881).

I don’t think this is a mandate for a state to provide a school choice program because that doesn’t exist under ESEA. Still, there is a reporting mandate, and states are required to provide for private school participation in programs federally-funded under the State managment decision. The devil is in the details, and the bill does not spell it out any further.

One of the primary things I appreciate about Lesko’s bill is that it is pretty straightforward and short, not as short as Massie’s bill, but it will only take a few minutes to read which I encourage you to do. As far as the future of the bill it only has four cosponsors at the moment so it has a pretty big hill to climb.

So again, this bill does not eliminate federal involvement in K-12 education. This would be an incremental step. I want to be clear on that. I also want to be clear that this is not an endorsement of the bill. It has piqued my interest, however.

Rouzer Files Bill to Eliminate the U.S. Department of Education

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

Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) is not the only one in Congress who wants to see the U.S. Department of Education eliminated. I’m sure there are several legislators who would love to see that happen. One of his colleagues joined him in filing a bill to do just that.

Congressman David Rouzer (R-NC) last Friday introduced H.R. 1510, the States’ Education Reclamation Act, to eliminate the Department in order to increase teachers’ pay.

The bill proposes to reallocate the Department’s billions in funding to be proportionally distributed to the respective states to be used for any education purpose as they see fit, such as teacher pay raises, new school construction, investment in technology and more.  Taxpayer dollars provided to the U.S. Department of Education from each state would be returned to the states in the form of grants.

“Given the challenges and special needs that all teachers and school administrators continually face, we can get far more out of the tax dollars currently being spent on education by dismantling this billion dollar federal agency and returning those resources back to the states,” Rouzer said in a released statement.

Under this bill certain Department programs would be retained, such as the job training program, special education grant program, Federal Pell Grant program, and federal student loan programs.  Those entities would remain intact, but transferred to other government agencies.

Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is the bill’s sole co-sponsor at the moment.

Below is the text of the bill:

To provide for the elimination of the Department of Education, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the “States’ Education Reclamation Act of 2017”.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

Congress finds the following:

(1) Principles of federalism embodied in the Constitution of the United States entrust authority over issues of educational policy to the States and the people and a Federal Department of Education is inconsistent with such principles.

(2) Tradition and experience dictate that the governance and management of schools in the United States are best performed by parents, teachers, and communities.

(3) The education of the Nation’s students is suffering under a managerial government.

(4) The Department of Education has weakened the ability of parents to make essential decisions about their children’s education and has undermined the capacity of communities to govern their schools.

(5) In the 34 years of its existence, the Department of Education has grown from a budget of $14 billion to almost $65.7 billion in annual discretionary appropriations administering around 100 programs. Meanwhile, education performance for 17-year-olds has stagnated since 1971.

(6) The Department of Education has fostered over-regulation, standardization, bureaucratization, and litigation in United States education.

(7) The Department of Education expends large amounts of money on its own maintenance and overhead. While the average national salary for public school teachers is $56,103 the average salary for a Department of Education employee is $108,571.

(8) In certain States, the average State salary for a public school teacher is less than the national average. In North Carolina, the average salary for a public school teacher is $45,737.

(9) Recent tests reflect poor results in mathematics, science, and reading for American students compared with students from other nations.

(10) Only through initiatives led by parents and local communities with the power to act can the United States elevate educational performance toward an acceptable level.

(11) The current system of top-down education uniformity is detrimental to local businesses and communities, the economic needs of the States, and the Nation’s ability to compete globally for jobs.

(12) The Department of Education has been hostile to many promising reforms, including reforms that would empower parents, teachers, and local communities. The United States, once a laboratory of innovation through the experiments of the States, is moving toward education standardization that does not consider the individual educational needs of our diverse population of students.

SEC. 3. ABOLITION OF DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION.

The Department of Education is abolished, and, with the exception of the programs transferred under section 7, any program for which the Secretary of Education or the Department of Education has administrative responsibility as provided by law or by delegation of authority pursuant to law is repealed, including each program under the following:

(1) The Department of Education Organization Act (20 U.S.C. 3401 et seq.).

(2) The General Education Provisions Act (20 U.S.C. 1221 et seq.).

SEC. 4. GRANTS TO STATES FOR ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY AND FOR POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION PROGRAMS.

(a) In General.—Subject to the requirements of this Act, each State is entitled to receive from the Secretary of the Treasury, by not later than July 1 of the preceding fiscal year—

(1) a grant for fiscal year 2018 and each succeeding fiscal year through fiscal year 2026, that is equal to the amount of funds appropriated for the State for Federal elementary school and secondary school programs for fiscal year 2012 (except for the funds appropriated for fiscal year 2012 for such programs for such State that are being transferred under section 7); and

(2) a grant for fiscal year 2018 and each succeeding fiscal year through fiscal year 2026, that is equal to the amount of funds appropriated for the State for Federal postsecondary education programs for fiscal year 2012 (except for the funds appropriated for fiscal year 2012 for such programs for such State that are being transferred under section 7).

(b) Appropriation.—Out of any money in the Treasury of the United States not otherwise appropriated, there are appropriated for fiscal years 2018 through 2026, such sums as are necessary for grants under subsection (a).

(c) Requirements Relating To Intergovernmental Financing.—The Secretary of the Treasury shall make the transfer of funds under grants under subsection (a) directly to each State in accordance with the requirements of section 6503 of title 31, United States Code.

(d) Expenditure Of Funds.—Amounts received by a State under this section for any fiscal year shall be expended by the State in such fiscal year or in the succeeding fiscal year.

(e) Use Of Funds.—Funds made available to a State—

(1) under subsection (a)(1), shall be used by the State for any elementary or secondary education purpose permitted by State law, including increases in teacher salaries; and

(2) under subsection (a)(2), shall be used by the State for any postsecondary education purpose permitted by State law.

(f) Supplement, Not Supplant.—A grant received under subsection (a) shall only be used to supplement the amount of funds that would, in the absence of such grant, be made available from non-Federal sources for elementary school and secondary school programs or postsecondary education programs, and not to supplant those funds.

SEC. 5. ADMINISTRATIVE AND FISCAL ACCOUNTABILITY.

(a) Audits.—

(1) CONTRACT WITH APPROVED AUDITING ENTITY.—Not later than October 1, 2017, and annually thereafter, a State shall contract with an approved auditing entity (as defined under paragraph (3)(B)) for purposes of conducting an audit under paragraph (2) (with respect to the fiscal year ending September 30 of such year).

(2) AUDIT REQUIREMENT.—Under a contract under paragraph (1), an approved auditing entity shall conduct an audit of the expenditures or transfers made by a State from amounts received under a grant under section 4, with respect to the fiscal year which such audit covers, to determine the extent to which such expenditures and transfers were expended in accordance with section 4.

(3) ENTITY CONDUCTING AUDIT.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—With respect to a State, the audit under paragraph (2) shall be conducted by an approved auditing entity in accordance with generally accepted auditing principles.

(B) APPROVED AUDITING ENTITY.—For purposes of this section, the term “approved auditing entity” means, with respect to a State, an entity that is—

(i) approved by the Secretary of the Treasury;

(ii) approved by the chief executive officer of the State; and

(iii) independent of any Federal, State, or local agency.

(4) SUBMISSION OF AUDIT.—Not later than April 30, 2018, and annually thereafter, a State shall submit the results of the audit under paragraph (2) (with respect to the fiscal year ending on September 30 of such year) to the State legislature and to the Secretary of the Treasury.

(b) Reimbursement And Penalty.—If, through an audit conducted under subsection (a), an approved auditing entity finds that a State violated the requirements of subsection (d) or (e) of section 4, the State shall pay to the Treasury of the United States 100 percent of the amount of State funds that were used in violation of section 4 as a penalty. Insofar as a State fails to pay any such penalty, the Secretary of the Treasury shall offset the amount not so paid against the amount of any grant otherwise payable to the State under this Act.

(c) Annual Reporting Requirements.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than January 31, 2018, and annually thereafter, each State shall submit to the Secretary of the Treasury and the State legislature a report on the activities carried out by the State during the most recently completed fiscal year with funds received by the State under a grant under section 4 for such fiscal year.

(2) CONTENT.—A report under paragraph (1) shall, with respect to a fiscal year—

(A) contain the results of the audit conducted by an approved auditing entity for a State for such fiscal year, in accordance with the requirements of subsection (a) of this section;

(B) specify the amount of the grant made to the State under section 4; and

(C) be in such form and contain such other information as the State determines is necessary to provide—

(i) an accurate description of the activities conducted by the State for the purpose described under section 4; and

(ii) a complete record of the purposes for which amounts were expended in accordance with this section.

(3) PUBLIC AVAILABILITY.—A State shall make copies of the reports required under this section available on a public website and shall make copies available in other formats upon request.

(d) Failure To Comply With Requirements.—The Secretary of the Treasury shall not make any payment to a State under a grant authorized by section 4—

(1) if an audit for a State is not submitted as required under subsection (a) during the period between the date such audit is due and the date on which such audit is submitted;

(2) if a State fails to submit a report as required under subsection (c) during the period between the date such report is due and the date on which such report is submitted; or

(3) if a State violates a requirement of section 4 during the period beginning on the date the Secretary becomes aware of such violation and the date on which such violation is corrected by the State.

(e) Administrative Supervision And Oversight.—

(1) LIMITED ROLE FOR SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.—The authority of the Secretary of the Treasury under this Act is limited to—

(A) promulgating regulations, issuing rules, or publishing guidance documents to the extent necessary for purposes of implementing subsection (a)(3)(B), subsection (b), and subsection (d);

(B) making payments to the States under grants under section 4;

(C) approving entities under subsection (a)(3)(B) for purposes of the audits required under subsection (a);

(D) withholding payment to a State of a grant under subsection (d) or offsetting a payment of such a grant to a State under subsection (b); and

(E) exercising the authority relating to nondiscrimination that is specified in section 6(b).

(2) LIMITED ROLE FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL.—The authority of the Attorney General to supervise the amounts received by a State under section 4 is limited to the authority under section 6(b).

(f) Reservation Of State Powers.—Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the power of a State, including the power of a State to pursue civil and criminal penalties under State law against any individual or entity that misuses, or engages in fraud or abuse related to, the funds provided to a State under section 4.

SEC. 6. NONDISCRIMINATION PROVISIONS.

(a) No Discrimination Against Individuals.—No individual shall be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination under, any program or activity funded in whole or in part with amounts paid to a State under section 4 on the basis of such individual’s—

(1) disability under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 794);

(2) sex under title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. 1681 et seq.); or

(3) race, color, or national origin under title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq.).

(b) Compliance.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—If the Attorney General determines that a State or an entity that has received funds from amounts paid to a State under a grant under section 4 has failed to comply with a provision of law referred to in subsection (a), the Secretary of the Treasury shall notify the chief executive officer of the State of such failure to comply and shall request that such chief executive officer secure such compliance.

(2) ENFORCEMENT.—If, not later than 60 days after receiving notification under paragraph (1), the chief executive officer of a State fails or refuses to secure compliance with the provision of law referred to in such notification, the Attorney General may—

(A) institute an appropriate civil action; or

(B) exercise the powers and functions provided under section 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 794a), title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. 1681 et seq.), or title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq.) (as applicable).

SEC. 7. TRANSFER OF CERTAIN DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION PROGRAMS.

(a) Transfer Of Certain Programs.—Not later than 24 months after the date of the enactment of this Act—

(1) each job training program under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education, including the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (20 U.S.C. 2301 et seq.) shall be transferred to the Department of Labor;

(2) each special education grant program under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1460 et seq.) shall be transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services;

(3) each Indian education program under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education shall be transferred to the Department of the Interior;

(4) each Impact Aid program under title VIII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7701 et seq.) shall be transferred to the Department of Defense;

(5) the Federal Pell Grant program under title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1070a), shall be transferred to the Department of the Treasury;

(6) each Federal student loan program under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education shall be transferred to the Department of the Treasury;

(7) each program under the jurisdiction of the Institute of Education Sciences shall be transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services; and

(8) each program under the jurisdiction of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program shall be transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services.

(b) Limitation On Transfer Of Certain Programs.—The transfer of programs pursuant to subsection (a) is limited to only the transfer of administrative responsibility as provided by law or the delegation of authority pursuant to law and does not extend to the transfer of personnel employed by the Department of Education to carry out such programs.

SEC. 8. GAO REPORT.

Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General of the United States shall submit to the Committee on Education and the Workforce of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions of the Senate report, which shall include—

(1) a review and evaluation as to the feasibility of enhancing the ability of States and local communities to fund education by reducing the Federal tax burden and commensurately eliminating Federal Government involvement in providing grants for education programs; and

(2) an evaluation of the feasibility of the successor Federal agencies for maintaining the programs to be transferred under section 7.

SEC. 9. PLAN FOR CLOSURE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION.

Not later than 365 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall submit to the Congress a plan to implement closure of the Department of Education in accordance with this Act.

SEC. 10. DEFINITIONS.

In this Act:

(1) ELEMENTARY SCHOOL; SECONDARY SCHOOL.—The terms “elementary school” and “secondary school” have the meanings given the terms in section 9101 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 9101).

(2) INSTITUTION OF HIGHER EDUCATION.—The term “institution of higher education” has the meaning given the term in section 102 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1002).

(3) STATE.—The term “State” has the meaning given the term in section 103 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1003).

Massie Explains U.S. Dept. of Education Repeal Bill

Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) last month introduced H.R. 899 that simply says, “The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”

I applaud this, but at the same time I wondered if you can kill the Fed Ed Hydra this easily.

Massie during a live chat through #PJNet was asked about this bill last week.

In a nutshell he suggests three options for how this would work:

  1. Different federal departments would oversee Federal education programs that are still active due to federal law.
  2. Block grant federal education money to the states.
  3. Get rid of federal education altogether.

Option 1 would be the Hydra option. Option 2 is good, but it will require Congress to act in various ways to end federal programs and redirect the money. He favors option three, so do I, but just padlocking the doors to the U.S. Department of Education won’t get that done. I’m in favor of this bill. I just think we need some more details. More than likely in transition to get to option 3 we’ll have to have a combo of option 1 and option 2.

We Need to Thoughtfully “Terminate” the U.S. Department of Education

Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY), Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

I wrote a news piece about the bill Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) dropped last week at Caffeinated Thoughts. His bill was certainly an attention-getter, as well as, short and sweet.

H.R. 899 simply says, “The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”

Man, I wish all bills could be this short. I would even settle for just a few sentences. As much joy as this sentence coming to fruition would give me; I would like to suggest that we take a step back a moment.

We have outstanding existing federal education law on the books, what will happen to that? This bill doesn’t address that.

Will federal education money be gone? No, we’ll need an appropriations bill to deal with that.

I don’t want to cut the head off of Hydra to just have more heads pop up in other departments. I want to see the beast slayed once and for all. So one well placed swing is not going to get rid of Fed Ed.

So I’m (obviously) not saying don’t terminate the U.S. Department of Education. We just need to consider what will happen with all of the things on the books that give the department its reason for existence. I’d rather Congress give further direction than have things decided by administrative rule.

I’m just not a ready, fire, aim sort of guy which is what this glorious piece of legislation feels like to me.