House Committee on Education and Labor
U.S. House of Representatives

Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon
Ranking Member

Fiscally responsible reforms for students, workers and retirees.



Committee Statement

March 17, 2010

CONTACT: Alexa Marrero
(202) 225-4527

Kline Statement: Hearing with Education Secretary Arne Duncan on “The Obama Administration's ESEA Reauthorization Blueprint”

We’re here this afternoon to discuss the Administration’s blueprint for ESEA. These 45 pages were anxiously awaited by many in the education community, the media, and of course here in Congress.

For the last several weeks we’ve been meeting at the member and staff levels on a bipartisan basis with our counterparts in the Senate, and this blueprint is viewed by many as the first attempt by any one of those parties to put pen to paper and offer details on substantive reform options.

I appreciate the way Secretary Duncan has framed this document, and I hope we’ll keep his words in mind today. As the Secretary says, this is a blueprint – not a bill.

Congress writes the laws, and I’m pleased to say that in the case of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, for now, we’re starting with a blank sheet of paper.

Of course, we know the blueprint will serve as a jumping off point in many ways – giving us policy directions to consider, and finding proposals that we like and some we do not like as much.

The Secretary and I have spoken candidly on several occasions, so I know he was not surprised to learn that I have some questions and concerns about the direction of certain policies we’ll discuss today. One such concern is the exclusion of public school choice and Supplemental Educational Services – what most of us know as tutoring – from the required interventions for struggling schools.

These tools would become optional – but no longer required – for some struggling schools. In reality, this means few if any students would have access to the immediate lifeline that tutoring and transfers provide.

These concerns are precisely why we are here. I know there are members on both sides of the aisle who hope to better understand the policies outlined in the blueprint and their potential consequences – both intended and unintended.

I try to view the No Child Left Behind Act through the eyes of my constituents – the teachers, principals, superintendents, and school board members who implement its requirements and the parents who experience its consequences directly. From that perspective, I have come to the conclusion that the federal government is too involved in the day-to-day operation of our schools. The federal requirements are too prescriptive, and the measures of success are not nuanced enough.

As Congress prepares to write the next version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, I hope we do more than simply cast aside the NCLB name and expand its requirements. I believe we need to have a meaningful conversation about the appropriate federal role in our schools.

My fellow Republicans and I have developed a set of principles to help guide that reauthorization and reform process. Briefly, we believe that to ensure student success in the 21st century, we must focus on what’s best for students, parents, teachers, and communities.

The four tenets that guide us are:

  • Restoring local control;
  • Empowering parents;
  • Letting teachers teach; and
  • Protecting taxpayers.

These principles will guide us as we come to the table to help develop an approach to education policy that puts students before special interests and recognizes that innovation truly does come from the ground up.

I know we are all anxious to hear from the Secretary, so I will close by simply thanking the Secretary once again for his approach. Whether we agree on every policy or not, the open and bipartisan process has truly been a breath of fresh air.

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