Some call it “Race to the Flop” because it trades away our educational freedom for a “money grab”. It appears that our state will be spending staff time to apply for the next round of “Race to the Top” money even though other states like Kansas are getting out of the race: Kansas says "Keep your race to yourself"
This has some parallels to the national healthcare bill in that those who are obligating us have no idea what they will be getting into until after the ink has dried.
We do not need unelected bureaucrats to relinquish the current oversight vested in the legislative branch of government and our local school boards. This week I filed a House Concurrent Resolution advising our Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education to retain flexibility to opt out from any agreement that removes our ability to define our standards as it pertains to how we educate our public school children. Additionally, this resolution advises our congressional delegation to be cautious pertaining to the next round of “No Child Left Behind” money. We ought not to idly sit by while our legislative jurisdiction continues to be eroded away.
Mrs. Davis' resolution is printed below:
Whereas, the United States Department of Education states that "Education is primarily a state and local responsibility in the United States. It is states and communities, as well as public and private organizations of all kinds, that establish schools and colleges, develop curricula, and determine requirements for enrollment and graduation. The structure of education finance in America reflects this predominant state and local role." (The Federal Role in Education); and
Whereas, in 1965, the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act launched a comprehensive set of programs, including the Title I program of federal aid and in that same year, the Higher Education Act authorized assistance for postsecondary education, including financial aid programs for college tuition; and
Whereas, in 1980, the United States Congress established the United States Department of Education as a Cabinet-level agency; and
Whereas, nowhere in the United States Constitution is the United States Congress granted authority to oversee education, and the United States Department of Education is continuing to take upon itself an ever increasing role of encroaching on the jurisdiction that belongs to the states; and
Whereas, the Missouri General Assembly has a constitutional responsibility to establish and maintain free public schools for the general well-being of the state; and
Whereas, Missouri's school districts and educational methodologies are extremely diverse and the Missouri General Assembly has been careful to avoid broad-brush state mandates, favoring local control starting with the most local of all, that being the family; and
Whereas, the federal "No Child Left Behind" law is viewed by many teachers and administrators as a failure, doing more harm than good in our nation's public schools because the test-and-punish approach to school reform relies on limited, one-size-fits-all tools that reduce education to little more than test preparation, thereby requiring unproven, often irrational "solutions" to complex problems; and
Whereas, the United States Department of Education is administering the educational stimulus package known as "Race to the Top", for which Missouri made a first-round application in December 2009; and
Whereas, those in Washington, D.C. may not understand or respect the uniqueness of Missouri and why we are better off establishing our own standards that are defined by the needs of our individual school districts, are tailored to encourage parental involvement, and maximize and enhance flexibility for the local school boards that are accountable to the parents; and
Whereas, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is refining its application for the second round of applications with a deadline of June 1, 2010; and
Whereas, the timing and process of the application has made it difficult to ensure legislative awareness of, participation in, and approval of the state's application process in addition to circumventing the input of parents, teachers, and local school board members, which turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to those closest to the source who may have vital and practical information on what has proven to be the most beneficial practice; and
Whereas, those areas as described by the United States Department of Education have been predetermined by the federal government as policy areas of emphasis, which may ignore and circumvent the proper role of the states and the priorities of the State of Missouri as defined by the people of Missouri; and
Whereas, with federal funds comes federal requirements, of which some may be more costly to implement than the remuneration received; and
Whereas, some of these requirements may obligate our state, both financially as well as in mandated program implementation that may residually harm our budget and our autonomy for years beyond the sunset of the "Race to the Top" program; and
Whereas, whenever we delegate our decision-making authority from the legislative branch of government to unelected bureaucrats, we lose our accountability to our constituents and diminish our residents from the satisfaction that their values are being represented; and
Whereas, government exists to serve the people and application for any funds cannot diminish the right of the citizens or the school districts to educate their pupils in accordance with the agreement of the parents of those children and the voters of that district who elected their school board members:
Now, therefore, be it resolved that the members of the House of Representatives of the Ninety-fifth General Assembly, Second Regular Session, the Senate concurring therein, hereby advises the Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education to review carefully the policy implications of Missouri's second application for Race to the Top funds to ensure that:
(1) Federal goals do not override state goals that have been legislatively established;
(2) The state does not cede any portion of control over our education policy to the federal government;
(3) Proposed implementation provides all the current flexibility afforded to Missouri's school districts;
(4) The Missouri General Assembly reserves the right to opt out at any time; and
Be it further resolved that the Missouri General Assembly advises our Congressional Delegation to respect the four principles set forth above in its deliberations on the reauthorization of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act; and
Be it further resolved that the Chief Clerk of the Missouri House of Representatives be instructed to prepare properly inscribed copies of this resolution for Dr. Chris Nicastro, the Commissioner of Education; the State Board of Education, and each member of the Missouri Congressional Delegation.