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Bobby Rush on Education

Democratic Representative (IL-1)

 


Voted NO on reauthorizing the DC opportunity scholarship program.

Congressional Summary:The SOAR Act award five-year grants on a competitive basis to nonprofit organizations to carry out an expanded school choice opportunities to students who are District of Columbia residents and who come from households:
  1. receiving assistance under the supplemental nutrition assistance program; or
  2. with incomes not exceeding 185% of the poverty line.
Provides funds to the Mayor of DC, if the Mayor agrees to specified requirements, for:
  1. the DC public schools to improve public education, and
  2. the DC public charter schools to improve and expand quality public charter schools.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Bishop, R-UT]: In 1996, Congress insisted upon a charter school program in DC. You will hear from both sides of the aisle recognition of the great value that that program has, and justifiably so. There is a waiting list in DC for those charter schools. This bill increases the percentage of funding going to charter schools in the District. In 2003, an Opportunity Scholarship was instituted, at the insistence of Congress. Again, there was a waiting list of people wanting the opportunity; disadvantaged kids who wanted the opportunity that this scholarship afforded them. There were 216 kids at the time scheduled to enter the program who were not allowed; the bill remedies that.

Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Hastings, D-FL]: In the last 41 years voters have rejected private school vouchers every time they have been proposed. In 1981, 89% of the people in a referendum in DC voted against vouchers. So how dare we come here to tell these people that we are going to thrust upon them something they don't want without a single public official in this community being consulted. Congress' oversight of the District is not an excuse for political pandering to the Republicans' special interest of the day du jour.

Reference: Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act (SOAR); Bill HRes186 ; vote number 11-HV200 on Mar 30, 2011

Voted YES on $40B for green public schools.

Congressional Summary:Make grants to states for the modernization, renovation, or repair of public schools, including early learning facilities and charter schools, to make them safe, healthy, high-performing, and technologically up-to-date.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes: Rep. BETSY MARKEY (D, CO-4): This legislation will improve the learning environment for our children, reduce energy costs and create new jobs across the country. Green schools not only save school districts money but also teach the importance of sustainable living to children at a young age.

Opponent's argument to vote No: Rep. GLENN THOMPSON (R, PA-5): We all know our Nation is drowning in a sea of red ink. The bill we're debating today would add an estimated $40 billion in new spending. And despite the majority's hollow promises of fiscal responsibility, there's nothing in the legislation to offset this hefty price tag with spending reductions elsewhere. This is just more of the same borrow and spend, spend and borrow policy that we've seen under this majority and this administration.

Reference: 21st Century Green Schools Act; Bill H.R.2187 ; vote number 2009-H259 on May 14, 2009

Voted YES on allowing school prayer during the War on Terror.

Children's Prayers Resolution: Expressing the sense of Congress that schools should allow children time to pray for, or silently reflect upon, the country during the war against terrorism.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Isakson, R-GA; Bill H.Con.Res.239 ; vote number 2001-445 on Nov 15, 2001

Voted YES on requiring states to test students.

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001: Vote to pass a bill that would authorize $22.8 billion in education funding, a 29 percent increase from fiscal 2001. The bill would require states to test students to track progress.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Boehner R-OH; Bill HR 1 ; vote number 2001-145 on May 23, 2001

Voted NO on allowing vouchers in DC schools.

Vote to create a non-profit corporation to administer federally-funded vouchers for low-income children in the District of Columbia.
Reference: Amendment introduced by Armey, R-TX; Bill HR 4380 ; vote number 1998-411 on Aug 6, 1998

Voted NO on vouchers for private & parochial schools.

Vote to pass a bill to allow states to use certain federal funds designated for elementary and secondary education to provide scholarships, or vouchers, to low-income families to send their children to private schools, including religious schools.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Riggs, R-CA; Bill HR 2746 ; vote number 1997-569 on Nov 4, 1997

Voted NO on giving federal aid only to schools allowing voluntary prayer.

Motion to add language to the "Goals 2000: Educate America Act" to give federal aid only to schools allowing voluntary prayer.
Bill HR 1804 ; vote number 1994-85 on Mar 23, 1994

Teacher development grants to improve math & science classes.

Rush co-sponsored the National Improvement in Mathematics and Science Teaching Act:

Title: To improve the quality and scope of science and mathematics education.

    Summary: Directs the Secretary of Education to:

  1. make grants to States for improvement and recruitment of quality teachers in science and mathematics education;

  2. make grants to States for professional development of mathematics and science teachers;

  3. establish 15 John Glenn Academies, for summer workshops and intensive, year-long fellowships for 3,000 individuals to prepare them to meet State certification requirements;

  4. establish and operate a National Clearinghouse of Best Practices to coordinate successful and proven professional development opportunities for teachers;

  5. make grants to improve science and mathematics education, and encourage more students to enter the fields of mathematics, science, and technology;

  6. make grants to promote both achievement equity and gender equity in mathematics and science education;

  7. establish a tax credit for businesses that employ science, mathematics, and technology teachers in summer fellowships related to their fields of teaching; and

  8. establish a fair market value tax deduction for charitable contributions of science, mathematics, or technology equipment to public elementary and secondary schools.
Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HR117 on Jan 3, 2001

Opposes requiring schools to allow school prayer.

Rush co-sponsored a bill weakening the requirements on voluntary prayer:

H.R.340:

To amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to improve the quality of public education and raise student achievement by increasing investment, strengthening accountability, raising standards for teachers, improving professional development and teacher compensation, rewarding successful schools, and providing better information to parents, and for other purposes.
H.R.340: SEC. 10410. SCHOOL PRAYER.
Any State or local educational agency that is adjudged by a Federal court of competent jurisdiction to have willfully violated a Federal court order mandating that such local educational agency remedy a violation of the constitutional right of any student with respect to prayer in public schools, shall be ineligible to receive Federal funds under this Act until such time as the local educational agency complies with such order.
Opposing legislation H.R.1:
No DOE funds shall be available to any educational agency which prevents participation in constitutionally protected prayer in public schools by individuals on a voluntary basis. [This is weakened in HR340 by requiring a federal court ruling on each school district before the removal of DOE funds.]
Source: H.R.340 01-HR340 on Jan 31, 2001

Rated 92% by the NEA, indicating pro-public education votes.

Rush scores 92% by the NEA on public education issues

The National Education Association has a long, proud history as the nation's leading organization committed to advancing the cause of public education. Founded in 1857 "to elevate the character and advance the interests of the profession of teaching and to promote the cause of popular education in the United States," the NEA has remained constant in its commitment to its original mission as evidenced by the current mission statement:

To fulfill the promise of a democratic society, the National Education Association shall promote the cause of quality public education and advance the profession of education; expand the rights and further the interest of educational employees; and advocate human, civil, and economic rights for all.
In pursuing its mission, the NEA has determined that it will focus the energy and resources of its 2.7 million members toward the "promotion of public confidence in public education." The ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
Source: NEA website 03n-NEA on Dec 31, 2003

Sponsored 10/10 Loan Forgiveness: cancel college loans after 10 years.

Rush co-sponsored Student Loan Fairness Act

Congressional Summary:Student Loan Fairness Act:

Opponent's argument against bill: (Blog post on voices.yahoo.com, "Why I'm Against the Student Loan Fairness Act"): The two key points to this bill are:

  1. The 10-10 plan: Where an individual would be required to make ten years of payments at 10% of their discretionary income, after which their remaining federal student loan debt would be forgiven.
  2. Cap federal interest rates at 3.4% and allowing existing borrowers whose educational loan debt exceeds their income to convert their private loan debt into federal Direct Loans.
    Source: H.R.1330 13-H1330 on Mar 21, 2013

    Sponsored extending subsidized federal student loan rates until 2015.

    Rush co-sponsored Student Loan Affordability Act

    Congressional Summary:Amends title IV (Student Assistance) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to extend the 3.4% interest rate on Federal Direct Stafford loans to loans first disbursed to undergraduate students between July 1, 2011, and July 1, 2015. Replaces the [termination date of] 2013 with 2015.

    Proponent's argument for bill:(US PIRG press release): The Student Loan Affordability Act keeps interest rates affordable for students over the next two years. If Congress fails to act by July 1, interest rates on federal Subsidized Stafford Loans will double from 3.4% to 6.8%. That would hike the cost of college by $1,000 per student, per loan, for over 7 million students across the country. The bill pays for extending the current interest rates through 2015 by closing three non-education tax loopholes.

    Opponent's argument against bill:(Rep. Tom Cotton, R-AR): Unfortunately, too many students today struggle for years to repay their loans because Washington politicians dictate student-loan rates and end up hurting students and taxpayers alike. It's causing tuition costs to skyrocket, leaving students buried in debt, often without jobs, and forced to delay buying a home and starting a family. As students struggle to repay their loans--regardless of the interest rate--taxpayers are on the hook for a $100 billion bailout--a burden hard-working Arkansans shouldn't have to bear. A better path is to let Arkansas's hometown banks work with students and families to finance higher education, just as they do with homes, farms, businesses, and other loans. I'm committed to bringing affordable higher education to every Arkansan and ending the federal-government monopoly on the student-lending business.

    Source: S.707 / H.R.1433 13-H1433 on Apr 11, 2013

    No-strings-attached block grant will kill transparency.

    Rush voted NAY A-PLUS Amendment To Student Success Act

    Heritage Action Summary: An amendment offered by Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) and Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) to the Student Success Act (H.R. 5). The amendment, known as A-PLUS (Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success), would give the states the ability to consolidate their federal education funds and use them for any lawful education purpose they deem beneficial.

    Heritage Foundation recommendation to vote YES: (7/8/2015): A-PLUS lets states escape No Child Left Behind's prescriptive programmatic requirements. At its core, A-PLUS delivers on the promise of "restoring state and local control over the 10% of education funding financed by the federal government," moving dollars out of the hands of federal bureaucrats and political appointees and into the hands of those closer to the students. Now is the time for Congress to restore federalism in education, empower parents and students instead of bureaucrats and unions, and remove archaic obstacles that have prevented true opportunity for all.

    US News and World Report recommendation to vote NO: (4/7/2015): A-PLUS [is intended as] a no-strings-attached block grant. There isn't all that much the federal government can do well in education, but it's because of federally-required transparency that charter schools and voucher schools can demonstrate that they work. For example, New York City's Success Academy scores in the top 1% of all the state's public schools in math and in the top 3% in English. When Success Academy came under fire from teachers' union-backed Mayor Bill de Blasio, it was able to fight back with numbers to prove it. If a strong-union state were to receive a no-strings-attached block grant, transparency would be the first thing to go. A no-strings-attached block grant is an overreaction to federal overreach.

    Legislative outcome: Failed House 195 to 235 (no Senate vote)

    Source: Supreme Court case 15-H0005 argued on Jul 8, 2015

    Oppose private and religious school voucher programs.

    Rush voted NAY SOAR Act

    Heritage Action Summary: The House will vote to reauthorize the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act (H.R. 10). The bill would continue funding through Fiscal Year 2021 and allow eligible students in Washington, D.C. to enroll in a participating private school.Analysis by Heritage Action:

    ACLU recommendation to vote NO: (Letter to U.S.House, 3/29/2011): The ACLU urges Congress to oppose the SOAR Act, legislation to restart and expand Washington DC's failed private and religious school voucher pilot program. Originally started as a five-year pilot program in 2004, the DC voucher program is the nation's first and only federally-funded private and religious school voucher program. Under the federal voucher pilot program, funds were provided to schools even though they infuse their curricular materials with specific religious content and even though they are not covered by many of the nation's civil rights statutes that would otherwise protect students against discrimination. Additionally, each of the congressionally-mandated studies to explore the pilot program concluded that the voucher program had no significant effect on the academic achievement.

    Cato Institute recommendation to vote YES: (4/28/2016): The Obama administration has repeatedly worked to undermine or eliminate the DC school choice program, even though it has the support of local Democratic politicians such as the DC Mayor and a majority of the DC City Council. Low-income students shouldn't be condemned to low-quality schools just because their parents cannot afford a home in a wealthy neighborhood. The DC program was an important step toward breaking the link between home prices and school quality.

    Legislative outcome: Passed by the House 240-191-3; never came to a vote in the Senate.

    Source: Supreme Court case 15-H0010 argued on Oct 21, 2015

    Make two years of community college free.

    Rush signed making two years of community college free

    Excerpts from press release from Tammy Baldwin, Senate sponsor: The America's College Promise Act makes two years of community college free by:

    Community, technical, and tribal colleges enroll 40% of all college students today. Community colleges are uniquely positioned to partner with employers to create tailored training programs to meet economic needs within their communities such as nursing and advanced manufacturing.

    Opposing argument: (Cato Institute, "College Courtesy of the Taxpayer? No Thanks," Jan. 9, 2015): One look at either community college outcomes or labor market outlooks reveals free college to be educational folly. Community college completion rates are atrocious: a mere 19.5% of community college students complete their programs. Meanwhile, the for-profit sector has an almost 63% completion rate. And [about 70%] of the new job categories in coming years will require a high school diploma or less.

    Opposing argument: (Heritage Foundation, "Free Community College Is a Bad Deal", July 15, 2016): Free college proposals would subject community colleges to the same types of subsidies-induced inflation endemic at four-year institutions. And low-income students already have access to federal Pell Grants, which can cover the bulk of community college tuition. By contrast, a more open market of alternative schooling models, such as online or vocational education programs, could better tailor degrees at a lower cost.

    Source: S.1716 & H.R.2962 15-H2962 on Jul 8, 2015

    2017-18 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Education: Bobby Rush on other issues:
    IL Gubernatorial:
    Ameya Pawar
    Bruce Rauner
    Chris Kennedy
    Daniel Biss
    J.B. Pritzker
    Jeanne Ives
    Joe Walsh
    Pat Quinn
    IL Senatorial:
    Andrea Zopp
    Anne Stava-Murray
    Mark Curran
    Mark Kirk
    Napoleon Harris
    Richard Durbin
    Tammy Duckworth

    Freshman class of 2019:
    "Freshman class" means "not in Congress in January 2017", with exceptions:
    * Special election, so sworn in other than Jan. 2019
    ** Served in Congress in a previous term
    *** Lost recount or general election
    Freshman class of January 2019 (Republicans):
    AZ-8*:Lesko
    CA-39***:Kim
    FL-6:Waltz ; FL-15:Spano ; FL-17:Steube
    GA-7:Woodall
    ID-1**:Fulcher
    IN-4:Baird
    IN-6:Pence
    KS-2:Watkins
    MN-1:Hagedorn ; MN-8:Stauber
    MS-3:Guest
    MT-0*:Gianforte
    NC-9***:Harris
    ND-a:Armstrong
    NM-2***:Herrell
    OH-12*:Balderson ; OH-16:Gonzalez
    OK-1:Hern
    PA-9:Meuser ; PA-11**:Smucker ; PA-12*:Keller ; PA-13:Joyce ; PA-14:Reschenthaler
    SC-4:Timmons
    SD-0:Johnson
    TN-2:Burchett ; TN-6:Rose ; TN-7:Green
    TX-2:Crenshaw ; TX-3:Taylor ; TX-5:Gooden ; TX-6:Wright ; TX-21:Roy ; TX-27*:Cloud
    VA-5:Riggleman ; VA-6:Cline
    WI-1:Steil
    WV-3:Miller
    Freshman class of January 2019 (Democrats):
    AZ-2**:Kirkpatrick ; AZ-9:Stanton
    CA-49:Levin ; CA-10:Harder ; CA-21:Cox ; CA-25:Hill ; CA-39:Cisneros ; CA-45:Porter ; CA-48:Rouda
    CO-2:Neguse ; CO-6:Crow
    CT-5:Hayes
    FL-26:Mucarsel-Powell ; FL-27:Shalala
    GA-6:McBath
    HI-1**:Case
    IA-1:Finkenauer ; IA-3:Axne
    IL-4:Garcia ; IL-6:Casten ; IL-14:Underwood
    KS-3:Davids
    KY-6***:McGrath
    MA-3:Trahan ; MA-7:Pressley
    MD-6:Trone
    ME-2:Golden
    MI-8:Slotkin ; MI-9:Levin ; MI-13:Tlaib ; MI-13*:Jones ; MI-11:Stevens
    MN-2:Craig ; MN-3:Phillips ; MN-5:Omar
    NC-9***:McCready
    NH-1:Pappas
    NJ-2:Van Drew ; NJ-3:Kim ; NJ-7:Malinowski ; NJ-11:Sherrill
    NM-1:Haaland ; NM-2:Torres Small
    NV-3:Lee ; NV-4**:Horsford
    NY-14:Ocasio-Cortez ; NY-11:Rose ; NY-19:Delgado ; NY-22:Brindisi ; NY-25:Morelle
    OK-5:Horn
    PA-4:Dean ; PA-5:Scanlon ; PA-6:Houlahan ; PA-7:Wild ; PA-17*:Lamb
    SC-1:Cunningham
    TX-7:Fletcher ; TX-16:Escobar ; TX-29:Garcia ; TX-32:Allred
    UT-4:McAdams
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    Page last updated: May 15, 2020