You, Senator Lee, appear to be a friend of parents, teachers, and plain grassroots Americans who have serious concerns related to the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA/NCLB).
A significant number of parents and teachers wonder if the most effective way to stop the Reauthorization of ESEA might be for you to request a delay in the House vote Wednesday, December 2, due not to the controversial nature of the bill, but to the circumvention of procedural requirements in passage of ALL legislation by the Congress.
Concerned parents, teachers, and others who have been following the history of this legislation believe there have been important and disturbing irregularities in the normal procedure related to enactment of legislation .
What has transpired since January when HR 5 was first being considered is in itself interesting.
Our first concern was when, in February, Rep. John Kline postponed the House Education Committee vote on HR 5(Student Success Act), knowing he didn't have enough Republican votes for passage. His excuse was that an urgent Homeland Security vote took precedence.
We know that Sen. Alexander wanted to move very fast with his version of the Reauthorization of ESEA. All of us kept wondering when he would get his Senate bill in shape for a Committee vote. It took Alexander from January to July to feel comfortable in moving ahead, only after Rep. Kline managed to get a five vote majority on HR 5 (Student Success Act) in July. Those of us who watched the House vote on C-SPAN can attest to Kline's HR 5 initially losing by a substantial number of votes. Suddenly, after the Congressional clock stopped ticking, the necessary five votes for passage came in. Shouldn't that be investigated?
We parents and teachers, and other groups opposed to this legislation, ask you to speak out (formally) regarding the Senate and House Education Committee's not following the procedural rules required for passage of legislation?
You certainly recognized that what happened in the Conference Committee's handling of the last stages of passage of this bill was illegal, and we thank you so much for making a public statement in that regard.
All emphasis and highlighting added by ed.
Sen. Mike Lee, Utah:
"So from the surface it will still look like the conference process is happening, is unfolding in the manner in which it is supposed to, but beneath the surface we know that all of this has already been prearranged, precooked, predetermined by a select few Members of Congress working behind closed doors free from scrutiny, and we know this vote was scheduled on extremely short notice so it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the rest of us to influence the substance of the conference report through motions to instruct."
Could you, Senator Lee, request a postponement of any further votes by the House or Senate until an investigation is made into the House and Senate's strict adherence to Congressional Procedural Laws in regard to the Reauthorization of ESEA?
Such a postponement would allow for not only Congress to have more time and input into the legislation, but for grassroots Americans (not the usual lobbyists who attend all hearings) to have more time to express our opposition to what we consider legislation which will end forever many of the freedoms enshrined in the United States Constitution.
Thank you very much for whatever consideration you can give to this Open Letter.
Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt
Former Senior Policy Advisor
U.S. Department of Education