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John C.
Republican TX

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  • Every Student Succeeds Bill

    by Senator John Cornyn

    Posted on 2015-12-09

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    CORNYN. Mr. President, earlier today the U.S. Senate added to its list of accomplishments this year by passing important education reform. The Democratic leader, our friend from Nevada, has called this Senate ``unproductive,'' but the Washington Post took a look at what he had to say and gave him three Pinocchios for that one.

    When we look at the accomplishments of this year, they are bipartisan, to be sure--as they must be. That is the nature of this institution. Even the minority can, and frequently does, stop us from doing things the majority would like to do. But what has been remarkable is where we have been able to find consensus and work together. Certainly, the education bill--the Every Student Succeeds Act--is an example of that, as is the leadership not only of Majority Leader McConnell, who [[Page S8529]] scheduled the vote on this legislation, but also Chairman Alexander of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and Ranking Member Murray.

    Senator Murray has also been very important in working with us on important anti-human trafficking legislation that passed the Senate 99 to 0. She worked with us on the President's request for us to pass trade promotion authority that only 13 Democrats voted for. This is an important piece of economic legislation.

    Then, in recent days, we passed the first multiyear highway bill. That was due to the partnership of Senator Inhofe, chairman of an important committee, Chairman Hatch, chairman of the Finance Committee, and Senator Boxer on the Democratic side basically trying to take on her own leadership that didn't want us to pass a multiyear highway bill, at least at first, because they wanted to use the pay-fors in that bill to spend on other things.

    My point is that leadership is important not only at the Presidential level; it is important here at the level of Congress in terms of setting the agenda. But the hard work of legislation is actually trying to find areas of common ground and consensus so we can actually get things done.

    There are some times that stopping what the majority wants to get done is the right thing to do--when the legislation is misguided, when it is the wrong kind of policy. But we found places where we can work together in order to deliver results for the American people, and the Every Student Succeeds Act is an example of that. It replaced a law which was sorely in need of reform, and it stopped Washington from imposing common core mandates on our classrooms. It will ensure that power is devolved from Washington back to the local communities, to parents and teachers, where that power should exist.

    In the words of Chairman Alexander, it has eliminated the Department of Education as a national school board. Our country is simply too big and too diverse, and the needs of our students in local communities are so different that the power to innovate, the power to set the standard, and then to find the most creative and innovative way to achieve those standards I believe is best determined at the local level and not here in Washington, DC. This legislation does just that.

    I use as an example Laredo, TX, where I went to a ninth grade science class. Due to the proximity of the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas, they were teaching ninth graders the fundamentals of petroleum geology as a way to teach their science courses. So the students could see the future of a job in the oil and gas sector because of the proximity of the Eagle Ford Shale and the prosperity that has brought and a direct connection between the otherwise abstract lessons of science that they might be learning in class. Washington, DC, is not going to be able to come up with that kind of creative solution or way of making science relevant to students in Laredo, TX. So I use that as an example of why this legislation is so important to leave to the States and local school districts, parents, and teachers the ability to determine the curriculum and accountability measures they want to adopt.

    I am proud we have come together in true bipartisan fashion to strengthen the hands of parents, teachers, and local communities and to provide real education reform for our children.


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