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Public Statements

Student Success Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Chairman, 11 years after Brown v. Board of Education presented an unfulfilled promise, in 1965 the Congress passed a law that said that we should have Federal resources for the children that were achieving the least in America's most difficult schools, many of whom were children of color. For 35 years after that, the essential strategy of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was to send Federal money to these schools and hope that they tried their best. It didn't work.

In 2001, in a truly bipartisan effort led by Chairman Miller at the time; Speaker Boehner, who was chairman of the committee at the time; the late Senator Kennedy; President George W. Bush and others got together and said, We're going to keep the resources flowing, but we're going to expect results. We're going to measure whether children can read and calculate, and we're going to see what happens. In the first 5 years after that law passed, there were more gains than had been made in the previous 15 years for African American and Latino children.

We hit a wall in about 2005. Rather than think about why that wall was hit and how we could work together to fix it, this bill goes in a whole different direction backwards to 1965. This bill essentially says: no strings attached, here's billions of dollars to local schools. We trust and hope that you will do your best. I think most of them will. But history shows that some of them won't. And when they leave behind African American children, leave behind Latino children, leave behind children with disabilities, that's not good enough for them, and that's not good enough for our country.

We should oppose this bill.

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Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Chairman, I oppose this amendment, we oppose this amendment because we believe it is redundant and ideological. It truly is a solution in search of a problem.

Not one word of existing Federal law, and as I read it, not one word of the underlying bill, authorizes the Federal Department of Education to create curriculum, any sort of curriculum for States and for local school districts. As a matter of fact, I would offer the author of the amendment just this one thought, and I know he is proceeding with a good-faith intent to make sure that the day never comes when there is a national curriculum. I think in some ways this amendment is contrary to that goal because it implies that the amendment is necessary.

The amendment is unnecessary if, as is the case, there is no present authority for a national curriculum in Federal law, and there is no existing authority under the proposed bill for a national curriculum. Adding this may actually raise the ambiguity that there is something in existing Federal law or in the bill that would authorize a national curriculum.

So I think that this is simply a statement to try to solve a problem that does not exist in present law or in this bill, and I would respectfully urge a ``no'' vote on the amendment.

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Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time in closing.

The problem with the underlying bill is not that it tries to impose a national curriculum. The problem is that we believe it ignores a national interest. The national interest is in articulating high standards for every student in our country, and then leaving to the creative energies of local educators and families the best way to reach those high standards.

The failure of the underlying bill to reach that objective is the reason that business groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, education groups, civil rights groups, and disabled advocates have united in an unusual coalition, frankly, to oppose the underlying legislation. We think that the underlying bill is flawed. We think that this amendment flaws that flaw and respectfully would ask for a ``no'' vote on the offered amendment and the underlying bill.

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