Legislators dump US mandates at 'Tea Party'
Ohanian Comment: After we visited the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama, while paying tribute to the World of Opportunity, Washington test activist Juanita Doyon came up with this slogan:
Don't drink the tea.
Don't ride the bus.
Don't take the test.
We can add:
Don't take the money that requires the test.
I still can't fathom why teachers haven't put pressure on their state politicos to turn down this dirty money. Even ignoring the enormous moral questions, it is a fact that NCLB costs states more money than it hands out. Enter "William Mathis" in a search on this site and you will see is definitive research on this topic.
Surely, teachers aren't waiting for their unions to lead them.
Here is what we can do today. Let's all write the home state newspapers of these legislators, thanking them for this act of defiance.
For Senator Richard T. Moore
For Senator Leticia Van de Putte
For Senator Emmett Hanger
For Senator Don Balfour
The Atlanta Journal Constitution requires an online form, which you can find here:
Please take a few minutes and engage in this grassroots resistance.
By April Simpson
Mimicking American colonists, four state senators from across the country staged a modern-day Boston Tea Party yesterday, this time protesting an overreaching government on the mainland.
"Instead of throwing tea in the harbor, we want to dump some of the unfunded federal mandates that we've been saddled with by Congress over the years," said Senator Richard T. Moore, who represents the Worcester and Norfolk districts in the state Legislature. "It's easy if you live in Washington to vote for a program, especially if you don't have to pay for it."
From the deck of a 137-foot schooner docked at Rowes Wharf, the four legislators swung hollow crates marked with unfunded federal mandates above the murky waters of Boston Harbor.
But it was just a ceremonial toss, imitating the 1773 protest against British taxation without representation.
"We don't want to get arrested," Moore said while pretending to throw overboard a crate marked $12 million to fund No Child Left Behind, a law that raises standards for new teachers and has stringent requirements for public schools to raise students' test scores.
Legislators from the 50 states and 25 countries are gathered in Boston this week for the annual National Conference of State Legislators, which opened yesterday. Senators from Texas, Georgia, and Virginia joined Moore on the deck of the Roseway, which was built in 1925.
The legislators said they were concerned that in the past four fiscal years, the federal government has shifted $100 billion worth of unfunded mandates to states in an attempt to balance a burgeoning federal budget deficit. Unlike the federal government, states are required to balance their budgets every year, said Senator Leticia Van de Putte, a Texas Democrat.
"Congress must start making difficult decisions and stop passing the buck to the states," said Van de Putte, who is president of National Conference of State Legislators.
Senator Don Balfour, Republican of Georgia, said the Real ID Act, which requires states to comply with federal standards for issuing driver's licenses, is expected to cost states $11 billion over the next five years. The act, which President Bush signed in 2005, cost Massachusetts $150 million in its first year, Moore said.
The cost-shifting measure calls for states to issue 240 billion new driver's licenses in the next five years, while verifying the legal presence of every applicant through databases that have not yet been implemented, Balfour said.
"It may seem like a small thing on the surface, but as you dig deep, it's like an onion. The more you peel, the more it stinks," Balfour said.
Senator Emmett Hanger, Republican of Virginia, added that the No Child Left Behind Act is being considered for renewal by Congress, but its "one-size-fits-all" approach should be tempered with a state-federal partnership that focuses on results instead of processes.
"Now is the time to make this a truly effective education reform policy," Hanger said.
Following Hanger's address, Moore and Balfour grabbed crates marked with "two of the worst federal mandates" -- the Real ID Act and No Child Left Behind -- and swung them over the water. When asked why they were not releasing them, Moore said, "I think the EPA has another mandate."
Before leaving the vessel, Moore offered a few last words directed to a small group of tourists who had gathered to watch.
"Keep spending money in Massachusetts," Moore said. "We need the sales tax revenue."
INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES