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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Cong. Kline And The "Chilling" Effect of Feds In Education

Category: John Kline
Posted: 03/25/14 14:53, Edited: 03/25/14 14:56

by Dave Mindeman

Congressman John Kline is again arguing with the Obama administration on education policy.

The Dept. of Education is making an attempt to address the racial disparity in school discipline.....

Last month, the Obama administration took the unusual step of issuing discipline guidance encouraging school districts to craft rules and discipline policies that are fair to students from all backgrounds and to think carefully about so-called "zero-tolerance" policies that federal officials said have led to high rates of suspensions and expulsions, particularly among minority students.

For instance, black students represented just 15 percent of students in national data collected by the Education Department's office for civil rights in 2012. But they made up 35 percent of students suspended once, 44 percent of those suspended more than once, and 36 percent of students expelled, according to Duncan.

In response, Congressman Kline led fellow GOP colleagues on a letter to the administration stating this....

Opposing discrimination is a shared goal. However, recognizing the complexity of school discipline policies, we believe such policies are best handled by the teachers, state officials, and local school leaders who are most equipped to assess the needs of individual students and the school community as a whole. ... Teachers and school officials must have the flexibility to assess the situation and enforce the discipline policies fairly to promote school safety and address inappropriate behavior.

Local control is obviously a goal for school districts. Parents want a say in how their children are educated. It is a good thing. It works.

But not all the time.

What Congressman Kline fails to acknowledge is that local control also means local resources. The situation here shows that racial disparity exists. Urban schools often don't have the type of resources to deal with disciplinary issues. They can't hire the counselors. They can't afford the extra programs......or maybe individual tutors. Yes, teachers would love to have flexibility - but the districts often can't afford to give them that opportunity.

But Kline also had a curious word choice....

In a February letter to Duncan and Holder, Kline agreed that "opposing discrimination is a shared goal," but argued that the federal guidelines "may have a chilling effect" on teachers and school leaders already working to address the issue.

Chilling effect? Why that phrase? Is Kline using an element of fear here because it is a racial disparity? Why not an "equalizing effect" or a "fairness effect" or an "equal opportunity effect"? No, Kline uses the word "chilling" because teacher and administrators are fearful. They need to use the necessary means to discipline without outside interference because they are fearful. At least that is the impression that Congressman Kline seems to want to impart.

Education needs to work the same for everybody. When only local control is allowed then local disparities prevail. We do not need to have Federal guidelines for everything education related. But when it comes to racial disparities, everyone needs to be on the same page.

It is not a "chilling" effect - just fairness.
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Chair Downey Continues To Stack The Deck For Cong. Kline

Category: John Kline
Posted: 03/17/14 01:04, Edited: 03/17/14 01:06

by Dave Mindeman

The MN State GOP party is working hard to stack the deck in favor of Congressman John Kline.....

Fresh controversy has erupted in the ongoing endorsement contest in Minnesota's Second Congressional District (CD2) between incumbent Congressman John Kline and challenger David Gerson. Marianne Stebbins, campaign chair for Gerson, took to social media over the weekend to lament a recent decision by the MNGOP state executive committee which retains Kline's access to DataCenter, the party's database of caucus attendees, convention delegates, and other identified voters. That access shall remain in spite of Kline's refusal to sign an agreement for list use drafted by the CD2 full committee. Kline will retain DataCenter access even if he fails to secure endorsement later this year. Kline would then be able to campaign against the endorsed Republican candidate through the primary with the benefit of party resources.

Technically, even though he is the incumbent, Congressman John Kline is NOT the endorsed 2014 candidate in District 2.....not yet. But it seems like the state party is acting as if that has already happened.

Prior to a candidate's endorsement, the local party can establish rules about party resources being available to "potential" candidates. In CD2, there was a rule instituted last September. It goes like this:

In late September of last year, in response to a request from the Gerson campaign for access to the caucus attendee and delegate lists from previous cycles, the CD2 full committee crafted a list use agreement which among other things imposed a $10,000 fine if a signatory campaign did not abide by the party's endorsement. Gerson signed that agreement and promptly received available lists.

Gerson did not abide by the endorsement in 2012, but he signed on to abide this time around....getting access to local Congressional data in return for his signature.

Kline's not doing that....

In October, (CD2 Chair Bill) Jungbauer attended a meeting of the MNGOP state executive committee where he resolved to restrict list access to only those candidates for CD2 endorsement who signed the list agreement. Jungbauer later reported to the CD2 executive committee, "I asked Chairman Downey in front of the state exec committee to give me his word that he would refer back to CD2 any candidate for Congress that requested list access. He said, 'You have my word.'"

Skip to December. Congressman Kline showed up unannounced to a meeting of the CD2 full committee and was confronted by questions from Senate District 54 Republican chair Chad Rediske. Kline confirmed he was seeking reelection and the party's endorsement. Rediske then asked, "Will you sign the CD2 list agreement to receive the list of 2014 caucus attendees?"

Kline asked for clarification, was provided the details of the agreement, then replied, "No I would absolutely not sign that. Look, if you are running for Congress you should get the list. That's how it's done. David Gerson should get the list. If [former Senate District 58 chair] Pat Kaluza here decides to run for Congress he should get the list. Look, we're running a multi-million dollar operation here. You talk about $10,000.00. I guess that's a lot of money to some people. David Gerson had $2000.00 on his last report. We're gonna spend a lot more than that to win this thing."

So Kline doesn't get access to the data base? Well, yes - yes he does...

Following through on that conviction, the CD2 executive committee held a conference call last Wednesday where they unanimously voted in favor of a resolution to revoke the Kline campaign's access to DataCenter effective on caucus night, February 4th. That resolution seemed in keeping with Downey's previously stated opinion that the party's campaign season begins on caucus night. On Thursday, Jungbauer delivered that motion to the state executive committee. His was the only aye vote. The state committee opted to leave Kline's access to DataCenter intact, effectively rendering the CD2 list agreement moot in the event Gerson secures endorsement.

So, the state committee overruled the unanimous decision of the CD2 committee and Kline will continue to get access to all CD2 data -- WHETHER HE IS ENDORSED OR NOT!

Downey explained that "traditional" GOP rules on the matter grant "back door" access for incumbents....

Because the state party grants DataCenter access to incumbents, those Republicans holding office need not meet local requirements for list access. Downey described it to Jungbauer as "a backdoor" which enables incumbents to benefit from the party's caucus and delegate lists without seeking consent from their district committees.

Jungbauer played an unwitting role in codifying that policy. At a November meeting of the state executive committee, Jungbauer moved the adoption of rules governing access to the MNGOP database. Those rules allowed the party's incumbents to retain access throughout the duration of their term

I'm not even sure that Kline, himself, was aware of the "back door" policy. When asked to sign the CD2 agreement - he refused. Frankly, I think Kline would have been prepared to pay the $10,000 fine and continue with the access, even if there had been a ruling against him. After all, what's 10 grand to Kline and his war chest? Hell, that's just a couple of donors!

But it is clear that Chairman Downey is going to do whatever it takes to keep Kline in the driver's seat heading toward November.

David Gerson has been looking at a stacked deck all along.
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Kline: Student Loan Fail

Category: John Kline
Posted: 03/14/14 16:30

by Dave Mindeman

The Obama administration continues its efforts to protect students as much as they can from massive student loan debt - with particular emphasis on for-profit institutions that give the lowest return on their investments.

The Obama administration will release new regulations on Friday requiring most for-profit and career -- or vocational -- colleges to demonstrate that they are properly preparing students for careers after graduation or face being barred from federal student aid programs.

Now is that too much to ask? If you are going to get saddled with large student loan debt, shouldn't that debt at least lead you to a reasonable potential job market?

These regulations will target for-profit institutions. And the reason for that is .....

Students at for-profit colleges represent about 13% of the total higher education population, but a disproportionate number of federal student loans -- about 31% of all loans --go to such schools, which are popular with adult students and veterans trying to launch careers. Nearly half of all college loan defaults are from students enrolled in such programs, according to Department of Education statistics.

But these For-Profit diploma mills have a champion in Congress. Congressman John Kline. He is happy to take huge sums of campaign contributions from these entities and in turn fights the administration on this subject at every turn....

"At a time when demand is great and the stakes are high, government should focus on increasing education opportunities, not unjustly penalizing institutions that are trying to prepare students and workers for a changing economy," said Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee.

If only these institutions WERE trying to prepare these students and workers for a changing economy. All they are really interested in is a piece of the Federal Student Loan program - a big piece.

Students rack up debt, can't find a job, default on the loan, and the taxpayers pay up.

My son is beginning his search for a college and my wife and I went to a seminar at his high school about comparing colleges. During her presentation, this school counselor mentioned the following:

Please be concerned about for-profit college recruitment. There are many issues with accreditation and costs. Examine them very carefully.

Now, if guidance counselors feel the need to issue that warning, then it must be assumed that the problem is real and they have experienced it for their students.

Congressman John Kline has always had the power to fix this problem. Even if he doesn't agree with the administration on method, then he should find a middle ground to work with. Simply blocking and criticizing potential solutions to this problem doesn't do anyone any favors.

This "supposed champion of the taxpayer" has failed us in this area. He has failed. Failed students. Failed parents. Failed the taxpayers.

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