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December 1, 2015 - ESEA Reauthorization Vote IMMINENT: Help Needed Engaging State Legislators


The Beltway ed deformers have proven themselves extremly facile marketers a thousand times over when it comes to advancing so-called solutions. The latest push to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA)--better known under its current authorization name, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and about to be shoved through in conferenced form as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)--is no exception. As we've noted before, ESEA has been the principle avenue through which the federal government has established, expanded, and cemented its unconstitutional role in education over the last several decades, each successive authorization extending the reach of federal and corporate tentacles. No wonder it's so important to spin it as something good.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by John Kline--one of Washington's most helpful centralizers and standardizers--has conveniently published a list of "Top 10" reasons that ESSA is a "win" for House Republicans. No one, especially Kline's fellow House members, should buy what he's selling. It's your basic Washington gloss job, designed to ensure that busy legislators can feel good about voting this leviathan and deeply troubling bill through without any serious examination or objection.

Resounding Books Needs Your Help

With tomorrow's vote bearing down on House members, we are urgently requesting your immediate assistance in waking up state legislators on some of the specific problems with ESSA and, in turn, enlisting their help in reaching out to federal legislators with the same information.

While experts and activists are still working assiduously to mark up the bill and give us a much fuller sense of what ESSA actually contains, some things are already clear. 

The American Principles Project and Education Liberty Watch have provided two documents that you can share in contacting your state legislators.

The first is a letter summarizing some of the known problems with this ESEA/ESSA reauthorization bill. It focuses, in particular, on the opaque legislative process as well as providing two short summaries concerning: 1) the problems with the false prohibitions on federal interference, and 2) the assessment mandates. The latter offers some examples of the psych profiling--again, backed up by actual citations from the conferenced bill. That letter is contained in a Word document so that state legislators can conveniently cut and past the text into their official letterhead and forward it on to federal legislators for the purpose of expressing their concerns.

The second is a one-page summary of the dangers the ESEA/ESSA reauthorization bill poses in relationship to pre-Kindergarten (pre-K) language, mandates, programming, etc. It contains citations from the conference report. This sheet can not only be passed on to state legislators but forwarded as an inclusion with their letter to their federal counterparts. 

These documents are relatively non-partisan, but considering their sources, may be rejected by legislators who lean Left.

An additional source that may prove of value in persuading Republicans is this letter sent several weeks ago by approximately 200 organizations, insisting on an end to the ESEA. Nothing in the conferenced bill negates the message of the letter. It is still entirely relevant.

For those who need help persuading Democratic state legislators to engage with Washington counterparts, you may wish to consider the following sources in developing talking points and enlisting assistance:

Mercedes Schneider posted her initial read of ESSA this morning on her Deutsch29 Blog and has noted that another post is coming yet today with further thoughts.

Morna McDermott of United Opt Out National posted this incredibly valuable blog article in mid-October, related to Lamar Alexandar's reauthorization language in the Senate. Remember, ESSA (the conferenced bill) is more like the initial Senate version. So what Morna discusses here would remain highly relevant.

We're told Nicholas Tampio is currently working on a post at Al Jazeera America, as well, which should be quite helpful. We'll post a link here as soon as that post is live.

Which Way the Wind Is Blowing So Far

Experts and activists working in Washington tell us that while House Freedom Caucus members are tending to be opposed to ESSA, House Democrats are tending to lean decidedly toward it. That means that, right up to the vote tomorrow, we should maintain friendly pressure on those who are leaning our way. But we need to break through with Dems, in particular. Again, hopefully the articles cited above will help us all in that regard.

Heritage Action has just released a statement opposing ESSA and announcing that they will be viewing it as a key vote in scoring legislators. That's incredibly helpful. 

Stay Tuned for More...

Again, we are connected to a network of activists and experts nationwide who are working to comb and mark up the bill in relationship to several key areas of concern. In addition, we would be grateful if you would update us as you obtain relevant intelligence on this issue. Tag us on Twitter, send us a message on Facebook, or reach out via our contact page.

We will update this post today as more information comes our way. 

As always, stay strong and focused.

#StopESEA.

RETREAT IS DEFEAT.

UPDATE, 9PM CT: Friends working in Washington have leveraged Morna and Mercedes posts to put together a non-partisan informational document on ESSA's assessment mandates that should help in reaching both Republican and Democratic legislators. Please feel free to leverage it.

UPDATE, 2AM CT, DEC. 2ND: We now know that business on this bill begins at NOON today (Wednesday). A mere HOUR is scheduled for debate. Check our December 2nd post for everything we know so far and check back as events unfold.

UPDATE, 4AM CT, DEC. 2ND: Dr. Karen Effrem just sent this additional resource to help combat the lie that there are "no new pre-K programs" in this bill. Please leverage in talking to your state and federal legislators.

UPDATE 1:25PM CT, DEC. 2ND: Dr. Mary Byrne has just sent another excellent, citation-filled resource to leverage with state and federal legislators.