Section 6561 of HR 5 (Page 564 Line 7) is being sold by its authors and sponsors as providing state legislators more control over what federal grants their state department of education agrees to. They claim the intent is to give state legislator the authority to approve or disapprove federal grants under ESEA- not just competitive grants, like Race to the Top, but the entire ESEA program, like Title 1 which is a formula grant.
Section 6561 of HR 5 does not empower the state legislators to reign in an "out of control" state department of education, it creates a system where they will not be able to pass a state budget without agreeing to all the terms and requirements of ESEA. In reality, it creates a system where the state legislator will have to defend the requirements of ESEA because by passing their state budget, they voted it in. They are now the responsible party.
Each year, when the state legislature approves the budget, they will affirmatively agree to abide by any rules or requirements imposed by the Secretary under HR 5. They will "affirmatively agree" to abide by the conditions of HR 5 even if it conflicts with state law by a vote or simply by passing their state budget. By passing the state budget, they accept the federal funds contained within it. The receipt of these funds provides the "affirmative agreement" to abide by the requirements of ESEA. No discussion, no hearing needed.
Call and email your state legislators and explain to them that they will expressly agree to all terms included in the reauthorization of ESEA by simply approving their state budget.
Do they believe they have the time and resources to read and properly understand HR 5- a six hundred page bill that is extremely complex- and make an informed decision to accept and agree to the terms?
Will they have the resources to cross reference each provision against state law to see if it conflicts?
Will they understand all the requirements and parameters placed on their state and local schools when the Secretary creates additional rules and provides "guidance" for implementation to states in subsequent years?
Most importantly- Do they want to be held responsible for agreeing to terms that they don't understand and which could have negative consequences for parents and teachers that could turn voters against them? Why shouldn't the state department of education be solely responsible for these decisions? They are the ones who have the sole authority to negotiate the terms with the US Department of Education.
If they understand that they will be in a catch 22; don't pass the state budget or approve the requirements of ESEA. No state politician should be put in this situation by Congress. Remember, the state has no authority over the requirements of ESEA.
To call their Congress members and tell them this clause will NOT work in practice.
SEC. 6561. STATES TO RETAIN RIGHTS AND AUTHORITIES THEY DO NOT EXPRESSLY WAIVE.
(Page 564 Line 9)
`(a) Retention of Rights and Authorities- In order to ensure local control over the acceptance of federal funds, no officer, employee, or other authority of the Secretary shall enforce against an authority of a State, nor shall any authority of a State have any obligation to obey, any requirement imposed as a condition of receiving assistance under a grant program established under this Act, nor shall such program operate within a State, unless the legislature of that State shall have by law expressly approved that program and, in doing so, have affirmatively agreed to abide by the conditions attached to the receipt of such funds.
(Page 564 Line 21)
`(b) Amendment of Terms of Receipt of Federal Financial Assistance- An officer, employee, or other authority of the Secretary may release assistance under a grant program established under this Act to a State only after the legislature of the State has by law expressly approved the program (as described in subsection (a)). This approval may be accomplished by a vote to affirm a State budget that includes the use of such Federal funds and any such State budget must expressly include any requirement imposed as a condition of receiving assistance under a grant program established under this Act so that by approving the budget, the State legislature is expressly approving the grant program and, in doing so, have affirmatively agreed to abide by the conditions attached to the receipt of such funds.
(c) Special Rule for States With Biennial Legislatures- In the case of a State with a biennial legislature--
`(1) during a year in which the State legislature does not meet, subsections (a) and (b) shall not apply; and
`(2) during a year in which the State legislature meets, subsections (a) and (b) shall apply, and, with respect to any grant program established under this Act during the most recent year in which the State legislature did not meet, the State may by law expressly disapprove the grant program, and, if such disapproval occurs, an officer, employee, or other authority of the Secretary may not release any additional assistance to the State under that grant program.
(d) Definition of State Authority- As used in this section, the term `authority of a State' includes any administering agency of the State, any officer or employee of the State, and any local government authority of the State.
e) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.—Nothing in this section shall be construed to allow the Secretary to condition the receipt of any grant funds under this Act on the adoption of any specific standards, including the Common Core State Standards, assessments, or curriculum.
(f) Effective Date- This section applies in each State beginning on the 90th day after the end of the first regular session of the legislature of that State that begins 5 years after the date of the enactment of the Student Success Act and shall continue to apply in subsequent years until otherwise provided by law.
`SEC. 6562. DEDICATION OF SAVINGS TO DEFICIT REDUCTION.
`Notwithstanding any formula reallocations stipulated under the Student Success Act, any funds under such Act not allocated to a State because a State did not affirmatively agree to the receipt of such funds shall not be reallocated among the States.
`SEC. 6563. DEFINITION OF STATE WITH BIENNIAL LEGISLATURE.
`In this Act, the term `State with a biennial legislature' means a State the legislature of which meets every other year.
`SEC. 6564. INTENT OF CONGRESS.
(Page 567 Line 2)
`It is the intent of Congress that other than the terms and conditions expressly approved by State law under the terms of this subpart, control over public education and parental rights to control the education of their children are vested exclusively within the autonomous zone of independent authority reserved to the States and individual Americans by the United States Constitution, other than the Federal Government's undiminishable obligation to enforce minimum Federal standards of equal protection and due process.