On the K-12 front, Senators Tom Harkin (D–IA) and Mike Enzi (R–WY) have been busy creating a monster 1,000-page proposal to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), now known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Rather than sending the failed ESEA/NCLB to the graveyard, where it belongs, they are trying to grow the dead hand of big-government education.
After eight authorizations of ESEA—and trillions in taxpayer dollars—we have little to show in terms of student achievement or attainment.
Particularly troubling with the proposed plan is that it gives Washington stronger control over the nation’s classrooms by requiring states to adopt “college- and career-ready” standards. Requiring states to adopt these national standards as a condition of receiving Title I funds represents a significant federal overreach into the content taught in local schools.
On the higher education front, President Obama announced last week that the federal government would be restructuring college loan repayments. But is this a trick or a treat for American taxpayers?
Heritage analyst Lindsey Burke notes:
The President’s plan includes limiting to 10 percent of discretionary annual income the amount of money lenders can require students to pay. It would also reduce from 25 to 20 the number of years students have to pay on their loans until they are forgiven completely.
Of course, President Obama is proclaiming this to be a sugary sweet deal for students. But, as Burke explains, here’s the trick:
The Administration’s plan to forgive all debt after 20 years shifts the burden of paying for college from the student…to the nearly three-quarters of Americans who did not graduate from college.
It also penalizes the taxpayers who have worked hard to pay off their own student loan debt—and who are still making payments—by having to pay off the student loan debt of those who took out more of a loan burden than they could handle, in some cases, to earn a degree of questionable market value.
And while the loan restructuring results in a sizeable cost for taxpayers, the House Education and Workforce Committee reports “monthly savings for the average student loan borrower would be between $4.50 and $7.75 per month.” Not quite the “hundreds of dollars a month” President Obama claimed.
The nation’s K-12 schools need true reform with policies that provide flexibility for schools, not another NCLB masked as reform. And pushing more costs onto taxpayers in a so-called attempt to aid college students burdens taxpayers while doing nothing to drive down college costs.
Senators and President Obama may be in the festive mood this Halloween, but the last thing America’s education system needs is more tricks from Washington.