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In fact, Congress considered similar reforms during debate of the legislation that focused on a separate provision, comparability. Instead, Congress specifically chose not to touch that provision and flat out rejected adopting a policy like the one the department is now trying to impose.
The department insists their “supplement, not supplant” proposal is not related to comparability, but even the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service has explained how this proposal is essentially an indirect way to amend the comparability provision. In short, this regulatory scheme is an attempt to accomplish something Congress specifically chose not to do. And anyone who was involved in passing the Every Student Succeeds Act knows that—whether they are willing to say so or not.
Still, even if the department were confused about the intent of the law, nothing excuses the fact that what it is proposing is simply unlawful. Again—as you can see in this language taken directly from the law—the Every Student Succeeds Act specifically prohibits the secretary from “prescribing the specific methodology a local education agency uses to allocate state and local funds to each school receiving assistance.” The department claims that is not what they’re doing, but with its limited list of options, it’s clear that is exactly what is happening. That’s why we have called on the department to throw this punitive policy out and to implement the law as it was written and intended.
For too long, our schools were forced to contend with a failed, top-down approach to education. That all changed with the Every Student Succeeds Act, but it seems the department hasn’t learned its lesson and is intent on undermining those important, bipartisan reforms. We will do everything in our power to ensure that doesn’t happen.
This hearing is part of our efforts to protect students, families, and taxpayers from this unprecedented and unlawful regulatory scheme—and just as importantly, to help every child receive an excellent education. The best chance we have to accomplish that critical goal is to ensure the Every Student Succeeds Act is implemented according to the letter and intent of the law.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today and how they see this proposal impacting their local communities and schools across the country.
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Many children across the country have those opportunities. Unfortunately, far too many don’t. Whether they are born into circumstances they can’t control or make misguided decisions that steer them off course, these kids often don’t know that they have options—opportunities—to build successful, fulfilling lives. Instead, they believe their only path forward is one of crime or delinquency—a path that often puts them or others in harm’s way and sets them up for failure rather than success.
That’s why Ranking Member Scott and I introduced the legislation before us today. This legislation will help those children understand that success is within their reach and there is a better way to achieve it. It includes a number of positive reforms, but they’re all meant to achieve three main goals.
First, H.R. 5963 sets kids up for long-term success. The legislation gives state and local leaders the flexibility to better meet the specific needs of children in their communities—especially those who are most vulnerable. It also includes reforms to ensure state juvenile justice programs reflect the views and expertise of stakeholders, along with measures to help juvenile offenders smoothly transition out of the system through education, family engagement, and community-based services. The bill also supports prevention services to help at-risk youth avoid the system all together.
These reforms will help more children acquire the skills and the knowledge to hold themselves accountable for their actions, grow into productive members of society, and seize opportunities to work toward a brighter future.
Second, the bill focuses on what works. It prioritizes evidence-based strategies with proven track records to reduce juvenile delinquency. It also includes a number of measures to provide information and resources that will give policymakers, state and local leaders, and service providers a better understanding of how to best serve juveniles and implement the law.
Finally, the legislation improves oversight and accountability. The bill updates current reporting requirements to provide a better—more transparent—picture of the operations and the success of juvenile justice efforts across the country, as well as those at the federal level. Other measures will ensure that resources meant to support at-risk youth and juvenile offenders are actually being used for those purposes, helping to limit waste and fraud in the system.
All of these reforms will not only improve public safety and protect taxpayers, but just as importantly, they will help deliver positive outcomes for some of our nation’s most vulnerable kids. I’d like to thank Ranking Member Scott and our colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their help in advancing these important bipartisan reforms.Read More
The reforms are different, but the goal is the same: putting people on a pathway to success. And that’s the reason we are here today.
Since 1974, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act has coordinated federal resources to improve state juvenile justice systems. By focusing on education and rehabilitation, the law supports state efforts to put some of the most vulnerable kids across the country on the right path. That includes both keeping at-risk youth out of the juvenile justice system and giving kids who are already in the system a second chance to turn their lives around.
Over the years, these programs have made a real difference in the lives of many children—children like Sloane Baxter. As Sloane explained to us at a hearing last year, he was on the wrong path as a teenager and eventually ended up in the District of Columbia’s juvenile justice system. Sloane was detained in a youth detention center and later participated in a community-based alternative program called Boys Town.
Ranking Member Scott and I recently visited that same program, and it was easy to see how it helps kids like Sloane grow into productive, responsible, and healthy individuals. Today, Sloane is a high school graduate, works as a coffee barista, and runs his own home improvement business. He is on the right path, and he described that experience to us, saying:
“I easily could have become a statistic ... Instead, I’m a tax-paying, contributing member of society. There is that same possibility in every other young person as long as you, me, all of us are willing to not give up on them before they even really get to start.”
That possibility—that potential—is the reason we are considering this bill today. Introduced by Representative Curbelo and Ranking Member Scott, it reauthorizes and improves current law to help state and local leaders explore and implement better ways to serve at-risk youth and juvenile offenders in their communities. The bill will deliver state and local leaders flexibility to meet the needs of vulnerable children; support prevention services for at-risk youth; and focus on proven strategies that will produce results. It will also improve accountability and oversight to protect taxpayer dollars and help ensure the system is working.
Mr. Curbelo will discuss in greater detail the positive reforms in the bill. These reforms will deliver a collaborative and comprehensive system that brings parents, teachers, and community members together to help kids reject a life of crime and seize opportunities to achieve a lifetime of success. I urge my colleagues to help us put more children on the right path by advancing the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act.
In closing, I would like to note that this has long been a priority for Ranking Member Scott. I thank him for his leadership in championing this effort, and I commend both him and Representative Curbelo for working together to deliver bipartisan reforms that will make a real difference in the lives of a lot of children. I will now recognize Ranking Member Scott for his opening remarks.
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Shutting Down For-Profit Schools Could Hurt More People Than It Would Help
By Editorial Board
Never mind that the higher education plans of tens of thousands of students will be disrupted. Or that 8,000 people will lose their jobs. Or that American taxpayers could be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in forgiven student loans. What is apparently of most importance to the Obama administration is its ideological opposition to for-profit colleges and universities. That’s a harsh conclusion, but it is otherwise hard to explain why the Education Department has unabashedly used administrative muscle to destroy another company in the beleaguered industry.
ITT Technical Institutes, one of the nation’s largest for-profit educational chains, on Tuesday abruptly announced that after 50 years in business it was shutting down more than 100 campuses in 38 states. The announcement, displacing an estimated 40,000 students, follows last month’s decision by the Education Department barring the school from enrolling new students using federal student aid and upping its surety requirements. The department said it was acting to protect students and taxpayers, noting the school had been threatened with a loss of accreditation and that it was facing a number of ongoing investigations by both state and federal authorities.
What is so troubling about the department’s aggressive move—which experts presciently called a death sentence—is that not a single allegation of wrongdoing has been proven against the school. Maybe the government is right about ITT’s weaknesses, but its unilateral action without any semblance of due process is simply wrong. “Inappropriate and unconstitutional,” said ITT officials.
Such unfairness sadly is a hallmark of the Obama administration policy toward higher education’s for-profit sector. It has singled out the industry for stringent employment and student loan rules and stepped up enforcement with stiff sanctions that, as The Post’s Danielle Douglas-Gabriel reported, have some companies on the brink of ruin.
There is no question that there are shady for-profit colleges and universities that take advantage of students by saddling them with debt and failing to give them marketable skills. They should not be in business. But then the same can be said for some public and private schools, whose wretched weaknesses the government seems glad to overlook.
There should be a level playing field that recognizes the place—and value—of for-profit colleges and universities. Not only do they serve the vocational and educational needs of nontraditional students (older, poorer or minorities) that nonprofit institutions are unable or unwilling to serve, but also they have been a source of innovation in higher education. The government should be looking for ways to strengthen the industry, rather than trying to destroy it.
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