March 7, 2017
“Do you really think that bureaucrats in this city know better how to run teacher training programs than people who've spent most of their lives inside actual classrooms with actual future teachers and with students?”
U.S. Senator Ben Sasse spoke on the Senate floor urging his colleagues to rescind the Obama Administration’s harmful teacher mandates.
In his speech, Sasse asked proponents of the rule three simple questions:
“First, do you really think that bureaucrats in this city know better how to run teacher training programs than people who've spent most of their lives inside actual classrooms with actual future teachers and with students?”
“Question number two: Has anyone actually read this regulation that folks are going to say they want to defend on this floor?”
“And question number three: Can the folks who think that this is what Washington, D.C. ought to be doing right now please show me somewhere in [the Constitution] where we are given the specific authority to micro-manage local programs like this from here?”
Additional excerpts of the Senator’s remarks are found below:
“This regulation actually makes the assumption that bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. are competent to micromanage teacher training programs in America. That’s what this regulation ultimately does and that’s absurd.”
“This is the 695 pages of the regulation that we’re talking about today. And it’s actually silly. If you read inside it, it is filled with enough specificity that if you tried to explain it to thoughtful, generally educated Americans, I submit to you that you would blush. There is a level of detail and a level of specificity in this that we are not possibly competent to defend at the micro-level.”
“Am I suggesting that all teacher training programs in America work well? Heavens no. There are some that are fairly strong and there are actually a lot that are really, really poor and weak. But having a good intention to make them better is not the same as actually having accomplished something that will make them better. Good intentions are not enough. For us in this body to act because we have compulsory governmental powers, we would need not merely good intentions, we would also need competence and authority.”
“Good intentions are not enough. Federal intervention and reforms should never make problems worse, and that is what this rule would do.”
On October 31, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education published a final rule in the Federal Register that establishes new requirements for teacher preparation programs.
The new rule hits states with new federal mandates for how states judge teachers. Like No Child Left Behind, these new mandates override state and local responsibility with Washington-based systems that rely heavily on student test scores. Some education advocates worry that the rule’s increased burden hits schools who are already feeling the impact of teacher shortages and creates a disincentive for talented teachers to go to the very schools that need them most.
Today’s legislation, which already passed the House of Representatives on February 7, simply overturns the rule.