A quality education is the foundation for success not only for our children but also for our nation’s future. In order for students to succeed, it is critical that our schools provide a specialized learning experience that is unique to the diverse communities that exist throughout the country. Federal law prohibits a national curriculum and education matters are best handled at the state and local level. Parents, school boards and local communities know our children’s needs best and should all play an essential role in making fundamental decisions that affect our children’s development.
America should be the world’s leader in every area of industry and innovation. To achieve that standard in an ever-changing global marketplace, our students need access to the world’s best education system. It is clear from the data that we are missing the mark.
We are continuing to lose ground to other industrialized nations because we are lagging behind in preparing our students to be leaders and innovators. According to the latest study by the National Center for Education Statistics on international student assessment (among 65 nations), American high school students ranked 36th in math and 28th in science. Even worse, over a million students drop out of U.S. high schools each year. These numbers are unacceptable.
“I consider knowledge to be the soul of a republic, and as the weak and wicked are generally in alliance, as much care should be taken to diminish the number of the former as of that latter. Education is the way to do this, and nothing should be left undone to afford all ranks of people that means of obtaining a proper degree of it at a cheap and easy rate.”
—John Jay, first Chief Justice of the United States
Over the last couple years, the Obama Administration has lured more than 40 states into adopting common core standards in order to receive significant grants and federal funds. Most states now have buyer's remorse as this extortion has been nothing short of a disaster. Common Core has led to boredom and complacency in classrooms throughout the country, shackling students and teachers as most days are now spent teaching to standardized tests. Washington must stop baiting states with grant money in order to circumvent federal law and implement national curriculum standards.
While the Constitution is silent about education, it does provide some guidance in the 10th Amendment:
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
Our Founders did not enumerate a federal government power over education and the establishment of a national curriculum has been illegal since 1965 when the federal government first attempted to regulate and finance education. In fact, the federal government’s involvement in education has failed to improve America’s standing in the world. As such, it is the purview of the states, parents and local school boards to handle such matters—not bureaucrats in Washington D.C.
I am proud that Arizona has led the nation in incorporating this philosophy and enrolled students in more than 500 different charter schools throughout the state, accounting for approximately 10 percent of the total student population. Charter schools have a proven track record and are successfully preparing Arizona students for higher education as well as equipping them with the tools they will need to thrive in today’s workforce.
We need to thoroughly reexamine how we administer education in America. It is far past time that we replace our current system with one that empowers educators, parents, school boards and local communities; this is the only constitutional way to deliver these services. To that end, I will continue to do everything in my power to return education maters to the local level.
Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success (A-PLUS Act)
I am proud to be an original cosponsor the A-PLUS Act, H.R. 3541. The A-PLUS Act is the first step in getting the federal government out of education. Education is a state issue, and school boards and local communities know what is best for our students. This legislation restores state and local control in education educations matters and keeps more taxpayer dollars in the classroom. A-Plus increases transparency and redirects accountability to parents and taxpayers. This legislation also significantly decreases government bureaucracy. In July 2015, I voted for an amendment to H.R. 5 that sought to implement the A-Plus Act and give states the ability to opt-out of programs within the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. This amendment was supported by Heritage Action and the National Taxpayers Union. Unfortunately, the amendment failed 195-235.
Secure Rural Schools
I am a strong supporter of the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program. SRS payments provide critical funding for more than 700 rural school districts and communities throughout the country. Historically, twenty-five percent of all timber harvest revenues went to counties with significant National Forest Lands within their borders to be used for education, roads and to offset property tax losses. Unfortunately, timber harvests are down 80% over the last 30 years, making SRS payments critically important until a point in time when the federal government allows for active management to take place within our nation’s forests. 40 other House colleagues and I led an effort calling on House leadership to allocate full-funding for SRS for fiscal year 2015. Click HERE to read more.
I vehemently oppose national standards like Common core. One size does not fit all when it comes to education matters and our nation’s youth. Adopting national standards leads to national tests, which in turn lead to the establishment of a national curriculum and teachers simply “teaching to the test.” When it comes to running federal programs, the federal government gets an ‘F,’ making national standards a recipe for disaster. Involvement by the federal government in education only disrupts the fundamental relationship between students, parents, and teachers. Bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. don't know the educational needs of students in Buckeye, Yuma, Prescott, or Kingman. I am a cosponsor of H. Res.476, legislation that strongly denounces President Obama’s attempt to coerce states into adopting Common Core. On March 26, 2015, I submitted a funding rider request with 33 of my colleagues urging the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies to prohibit any funds in fiscal year 2016 from being used to fund Common Core. Click HERE to read more.
As I mentioned previously, American high school students currently rank 36th in math and 28th in science when compared to other countries throughout the world. We have high-paying jobs in America that are going unfilled because we don’t have the skilled workers necessary to fill these positions. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, “A 2011 survey of manufacturers found that as many as 600,000 jobs remain unfilled because there is a lack of qualified candidates for technical positions requiring STEM skills—primarily production positions (e.g., machinists, operators, craftworkers, distributors, and technicians).” I have supported and led a number of initiatives to counteract this problem and firmly believe pursuing strategies to revitalize our communities with a STEM-based economy should be one of our highest priorities.
In February 2015, I voted for and the House passed the Stem Education Act. This commonsense legislation reduced regulatory costs for researchers, added computer science to STEM, accelerated technology transfers and significantly bolstered STEM education. In May 2015, I voted for and the House passed the America Competes Act. This bill also added computer science to STEM and prioritized resources for math, science, biology, engineering, physics and chemistry. In October 2015, I supported a competitive grant application submitted by Arizona SciTech for the National Science Foundation’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning program. This award would greatly benefit rural communities and advance STEM education throughout Arizona.
School Choice and Charter Schools
I am an ardent proponent of school choice. Parents should be the ultimate guardians of their children’s educational future. School choice is a great way to keep that decision-making power in the hands of parents. Urban areas in particular face challenges with failing schools, and in many neighborhoods—particularly low-income minority neighborhoods—parents have no choice but to send their children to a failing school. We need an improved system that allows parents to move their children out of failing schools and provides young adults the opportunity to go into the workforce or higher education system prepared for the challenges ahead. In order for students to succeed, it is critical that our schools provide a specialized learning experience that is unique to the diverse communities that exist throughout the country. Click HERE to read more.
Arizona leads the nation in incorporating this philosophy and has more than 500 different charter schools throughout the state. Charters schools provide parents with more options for improving their children’s livelihoods and allow teachers to utilize more innovation in the classroom. Having said that, many challenges still exist as nationwide there are more than 1 million students on charter school waitlists. Millions of parents want to see these programs expanded and are demanding more opportunities for effective, stimulating educational experiences for their children. Click HERE to read more.
The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and the SOAR Act
I have twice voted for legislation that has been signed into law that reauthorized the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which offers students living in low performing school districts a chance to receive a quality education. The program provides $20 million in school choice scholarships, $20 million to expand charter schools, and $20 million for improvement measures inside public schools. Since the program’s inception in 2003, parents have raved about the programs’ success. In 2014, 89 percent of students participating in the program graduated from high school, while only 58 percent of DC public school students graduated. Click HERE to read more.
Gosar Amendment Allowing Charter Schools for Tribes
Past Interior Appropriations bills have included language which prevents funding to be used to establish new charter schools at Bureau funded schools. I have led multiple efforts to correct this injustice and in the 112th Congress, the House passed my amendment removing the ban on new charter schools on Indian Reservations. Charter schools should be an available choice to those tribes that want them. If a tribe chooses not to opt for a charter school approach, then that is its decision, but federal law should not prohibit this practice. CLICK HERE to read more.
Gosar Amendment Redirecting Funds from the EPA to the BIE
In June 2015, the House passed my amendment that cut the EPA’s budget by $61,304,000 and redirected $50,304,000 to the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE). The funds that weren’t transferred went towards deficit reduction. While BIE has made efforts to improve on its delivery of this mission, several recent studies have raised concern regarding student achievement at BIE schools compared to Indian students in public schools. Currently, more than one-third of Bureau funded facilities are in substandard or poor condition. A sizeable volume of research, including investigations by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), have established direct correlation between facility conditions and poor student outcomes within the BIE. BIE schools face much more extensive operational costs than most public schools due to the fact that many are located in remote areas far from utility and infrastructure services traditionally provided by municipalities. This amendment assists with supporting the trust responsibility by helping to provide high quality education for Native American students in an environment that is safe, healthy and conducive for learning. CLICK HERE to read more.
H.R. 3566, Closing the Loophole that Allows Illegal Immigrants to Get In-state Tuition
In recent years, certain states have circumvented the intent of federal immigration law by manipulating in-state requirements and allowing aliens not in lawful immigration status to receive in-state tuition benefits. It defies commonsense that illegal immigrants should receive in-state tuition for a large and prestigious university in California, while American citizens in Arizona have to pay out-of-state tuition to attend the same university. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, “the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA, P.L. 104-208, Sec. 505) [already] bars states from providing ‘postsecondary education benefits’ to unlawfully present aliens based on their residence in the state unless all U.S. citizens or nationals are eligible for such benefits, regardless of their state of residence.” Creative loopholes, such as allowing illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition rates because they happened to graduate from an in-state high school, violate the intent of this law. My bill closes the loophole that allows illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition. CLICK HERE to read more.
Aviation Program at Yavapai College
In 2015, the VA suspended enrollment at Yavapai College in Prescott for over 30 students in the school’s Airline Operations and Helicopter Operations concentrations due to alleged compliance issues. In response, Sen. John McCain and I contacted the Director of Education Service in the Veterans Benefit Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs opposing this action and demanding answers. The decision to suspend the aviation program at Yavapai College may have unfairly put some veteran students on the chopping block. There are veterans who were accepted to this program and uprooted their lives to move to Prescott under the assumption that they were going to pursue an aviation degree. If there are veterans being punished through no fault of their own, then it is the responsibility of the VA to clearly justify its rationale and explain how this decision serves the best interests of our nation’s heroes. It is my desire that we do all that we reasonably can to provide quality educational benefits and training programs for our veterans and I will continue to do everything I can on this matter for our veterans. CLICK HERE to read more.
Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Reform
As you may know, the ESEA first became law in 1965 and established a role for the federal government in every school in the United States. Since that time, the ESEA has been updated ten times. Despite its good intentions, NCLB has had disastrous results. Billions of dollars and thousands of regulations later, very little improvement in education has occurred as a result of this expansion of federal power. There is a growing consensus that this “test and punish” program has not improved education nationwide. In addition to being costly, it has erected barriers to effective teaching and learning in schools across the United States. All of this must change if America is to remain the world’s leader.
In July 2015, I voted for H.R. 5, the Student Success Act that passed the House. This legislation replaced NCLB and stopped the Obama Administration from implementing Common Core through executive fiat. The House bill also reduced the role of the federal government in education, restored control of education to state and local governments, eliminated 65 inefficient and duplicative programs, and empowered educators and parents. The legislation also allowed a vote on three conservative amendments, all of which I supported. The Walker-DeSantis Amendment allowed states to opt-out of the federal education programs. The Salmon Amendment allowed parents to opt their students out of Common Core and other federal testing requirements. The Rokita-Grothman Amendment reduced the length of authorization time in the bill from six years to four years.
Unfortunately, the House bill was substantively different than the final version that came back from the Senate in December. After a conference committee reconciled H.R. 5 with the Senate’s Every Child Achieves Act, I could no longer support the legislation. 63 other members joined me in opposition to this flawed legislation that was supported by the unions. The conference report gutted many of the conservative reforms in the bill that would have returned control of education to state and local governments. President Obama and many liberal organizations praised the bill because it maintained much of the federal government involvement in education.