ESSA passed with Pay for Success. Mark Kirk said nothing.



Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk said nothing.

– Bev Johns

The closest anyone came to mentioning Pay for Success on the floor of the U.S. Senate was Sen. Orrin Hatch, R from Utah, who introduced the Pay for Success amendment to the original Senate bill:

“I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to work on this bill. I am also grateful for the opportunity I have had to help write many of its provisions….As the president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce said,  ‘This bill empowers willing states to achieve [through] improved early learning and high quality preschool experiences.’ ” [high quality preschool is howPay for Success is characterized in Utah, although according to the New York Times, it is in fact a low cost, low quality program]

The other Republican Senator from Utah, Mike Lee, made one of the few negative speeches about S. 1177:

“This would be a serious setback for America’s schools, teachers, and students, one that will have sweeping consequences for decades to come, because when we get educational policy wrong, as this bill does and as we have done at the Federal level for so many years, it affects not just the quality of education students receive as children but the quality of life that will be available to them as adults down the road.”

“The problem is not just the particular provisions of this particular bill but the dysfunctional and outdated model of education on which it is built–a model that concentrates authority over education decisions in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats, instead of in the hands of parents, teachers, principals, local school boards, and State officials….”

Democrat Al Franken from Minnesota, stated:

“Study after study has shown that for every $1 we spend, we get up to $16 back in the long run. [Actually the reference is usually to one study of a really high quality program where all teachers were fully certified and held at least a bachelor’s degree in education and were paid an extra 10 percent over the regular teacher salary schedule, where it is almost never stated that over 80 percent of the $16 is in avoided criminal justice costs, and that the costs of extra education of any kind, including special ed, is less than 50 cents, less than half of the $1 being spent.]  A kid who has had a quality early childhood education is less likely to be in special education, less likely to be left back a grade, and has better health outcomes.” [this special-ed-is-to-be-avoided statement is now far too common on both sides of the aisle]

Many other Senators spoke, usually HELP Committee members extolling the amendments that they got into the bill, interrupted by many speeches on other topics.

Illinois Senator Mark Kirk said nothing, although he is a member of the HELP Committee, and as a member of the Conference Committee on S. 1177, his office refused to even consider offering an amendment during Conference to strike the words “Pay for Success” to at least have a discussion of the subject because, according to a message left for me from his education staffer, Kirk wanted a “clean bill.”

The staffer did not make any further reply to any of the emails I sent her or messages I left for her. Others that called Kirk at first were told the office was not aware of Pay for Success, later that Kirk was undecided, and after the Senate voted, that S. 1177 would have to go back to the House where further consideration could be had of Pay for Success (of course after the Senate voted, S. 1177 went directly to President Obama who had already stated he would sign it into law).

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