MN-02 : Kline’s Do-Nothing Congress Fears an Imperial President


John Kline (R-MN-02) appeared on MPR’s MidDay program answering questions on Afghanistan, the economy, Republican Presidential candidates, carrying the “nuclear football”, but most of all there was a lengthy discussion on education issues.

The answers were pretty much the same regardless of the question … HU&W …. especially regarding No Child Left Behind.

Military veterans are all too familiar with HU&W
… Hurry Up and Wait
… or as it is also known HU&W&W&W&W
…. Hurry Up and Wait and Wait and Wait and Wait.

Mr. Kline was asked about the status of No Child Left Behind.
For years, NCLB has been bashed by critics … if there is one thing that Republicans and Democrats seem to agree upon is that NCLB must change … well mostly, as according to a May 29, 2008 Wall Street Journal article, “Sen. McCain says the No Child law has succeeded by shining a spotlight on how effectively schools are teaching.”
Conversely, candidate Barrack Obama offered a different assessment :

“But I’ll tell you what’s wrong with No Child Left Behind. Forcing our teachers, our principals and our schools to accomplish all of this without the resources they need is wrong. Promising high-quality teachers in every classroom and then leaving the support and the pay for those teachers behind is wrong. Labeling a school and its students as failures one day and then throwing your hands up and walking away from them the next is wrong.
We must fix the failures of No Child Left Behind. We must provide the funding we were promised, give our states the resources they need and finally meet our commitment to special education. We also need to realize that we can meet high standards without forcing teachers and students to spend most of the year preparing for a single, high-stakes test…
As president, I will work with our nation’s governors and educators to create and use assessments that can improve achievement all across America by including the kinds of research, scientific investigation and problem-solving that our children will need to compete in a 21st century knowledge economy. The tests our children take should support learning not just accounting. If we really want our children to become the great inventors and problem-solvers of tomorrow, our schools shouldn’t stifle innovation, they should let it thrive.”

The voters made a choice and elected President Obama … and after the 2010 elections, the Republicans made a choice and selected John Kline to Chair the Education and Workforce Committee.
MNPact offers a timely review of Mr. Kline’s statements on NCLB from 2009 to yesterday’s statement :
“But this is a terrible overreach of the executive branch, it’s sort of resurrecting the old, the old idea of an imperial presidency, where the president says ‘Congress is not getting it done, so I’m going to do it’.”

Now, as Chairman, Mr. Kline has devised a five-stage plan to address NCLB … one stage has been approved by the House earlier this month (increasing funding for charter schools – HR 2218 will take the current funding level of $256 million in FY2011 to $300 million starting in FY2012 – despite the ever-rising national debt) … the major component of his five-stage plan is HR 2445 – State and Local Funding Flexibility Act was introduced by Mr. Kline on July 7th and approved on a party-line vote in the committee that month … it has sat waiting for the full House to proceed ever since … the other pieces are still awaiting Mr. Kline to move them out of the committee (which the Republicans have an overwhelming majority).

In August, President Obama indicated that action needed to take place and last week, President Obama outlined a program that offering states waivers to NCLB requirements … allowing the states greater influence which seems to be what Mr. Kline wanted.
Thus President Obama is the Imperial President …

Chairman Kline issued a press release :

There is widespread agreement that the status quo is not working, and lasting reforms are vital to the future prosperity of our children.
House Republicans, as promised, are advancing a package of legislation to revamp current elementary and secondary education law.
This fall, the House of Representatives is expected to consider proposals to roll back federal intrusion in classrooms, eliminate wasteful education spending, improve accountability, support more effective teachers, and provide more flexibility to state and local education leaders.

NOTE : Congress has had since 2007 to modify the controversial 2001 legislation.

Mr. Kline knows there is a problem but his answer is “just give us a little more time.” In response to a question during the interview, Mr. Kline stated that he thought reform could be done by 2014 … WHAT … 2014 ?
Proof positive that NCLB = HU&W&W&W&W.

Clearly, Mr. Kline is stalling … and displaying zero leadership.

Reviewing Mr. Kline’s EdWorkforce website, he has held 19 Full Committee meeting so far this year… of which four were Field Hearings (Las Vegas where three committee members participated), Columbia TN, Utica NY, and Wilkes-Barre PA where Mr. Kline and one other Republican participated … IMO, these appear to be nothing more than efforts to promote Republicans in their districts).
NOTE : Some of these committee hearings addressed Workforce issues … yet, overall, it indicates that Mr. Kline has not pushed the Committee to address today’s problems … instead allowing more time for members to be in their districts soliciting campaign donations.

President Obama waivers would not have been necessary if not for Mr. Kline’s failure to get the job done.

The sole question should be : Why did Mr. Kline not get a bill done on time ? Why did President Obama have to step in ?
With a number of Republicans, including Michele Bachmann advocating for elimination of the Department of Education, is the problem that the Republicans cannot agree ? Or, are Republicans relunctant to tell Liberty Central supporters that the Federal Government has a responsibility Education funding ?

Conversely, TIME has an article on work being done by Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Republican governors … where’s the leadership from the House ?

Tennessee lead by Republican Governor Bill Haslem has requested a waiver … Secretary Duncan has been encouraged to grant the waiver in a letter dated July 29, 2011, and signed by Senators Alexander and Bob Corker ( R) and Representatives Phil Roe (R-01), John Duncan, Jr. (R-02), Chuck Fleischmann (R-03), Scott Disarrays (R-04), Jim Cooper (D-05), Diane Black (R-06), Marsha Blackburn(R-07), Stephen Fincher (R-08) and Steve Cohen (D-09).
NOTE : Congressmen Roe and DesJarlais are members of Mr. Kline’s Education and Workforce Committee.
NOTE the date of the letter … Mr. Kline is on MPR complaining while Tennessee Republicans are pushing to advance President Obama’s waiver proposal.

Republicans, Democrats and even members of Mr. Kline’s committee realize that it’s time to make changes … but Mr. Kline is dawdling.

That sadly, is what the 112th Congress is good at … today is the end of the fiscal year … Mr. Kline complained last session about the Democrats unable to pass a budget on time — a valid complaint
… yet the Education and Labor Appropriations bill has not been put to a vote ? Instead, the Congress approved another Continuing Appropriations (or as some may call it, a Continuing Resolution) to partially fund the government through mid-November.

How can the government give any assurance to business when they are consistently pushing the envelope on a government shutdown ?

Mr. Kline and the Republican-managed House is in permanent “Wait” mode …
Afghanistan … Wait we just need a little more time.
The economy … Wait we just need a little more time.
Kline’s Presidential endorsement … Wait he just need a little more time.

What they are really waiting for is another crisis to emerge to taunt the President … is there any wonder why the approval rating for Congress keeps setting record lows ?

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