House Dems denounce the GOP’s signature education bill
Plus: TikTok responds after the brutal congressional hearing its CEO endured and Jamaal Bowman’s push to replace standardized testing with more classroom teaching time.
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“Parents in this country are wide awake”
House Republicans this morning are set to pass a bill they’ve branded as the Parents’ Bill of Rights, a signature piece of legislation members proposed ahead of last year’s midterms that GOP leaders say will ensure parents have the right to have a voice in their kids’ education.
Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia, who serves as the top Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, told Supercreator earlier this month that this bill represents the different priorities when it comes to education.
“Our priority, I think, is dealing with the graduation rates, achievement gaps, early childhood education, proper funding for schools,” he said.
Another senior Democrat on the committee, Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida, accused Republicans of organizing a “cloak-and-dagger movement” to portray public schools as against parents.
“In order to educate children, there must be a marriage between public educators and parents and everybody knows that,” Wilson said. “And [Republicans] know that a teacher was involved in their lives and with their parents and that’s how all of us made it in life. So this is all a shenanigan that was created, I believe, in a think tank as a way to privatize public education.”
During the debate of the bill on Thursday, House Democrats took to the floor to slam the bill in no uncertain terms.
“They want to jam their extreme MAGA Republican ideology down the throats of the children and parents of America,” House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries said. “That’s unacceptable, that’s unconscionable and that’s un-American. And that’s one of the reasons why we strongly oppose this legislation.”
Katherine Clark, the number-two House Democrat, characterized the bill as a distraction from the Republican Party’s unwillingness to invest in affordable child care, the national teacher shortage, gun violence prevention and food security.
“Once again, the majority is showing us how out of touch they are with American families. They are obsessed with ‘wokeism’ — even as they struggle to define what that even means,” she said. “But let me tell you, parents in this country are wide awake. They wake up every day and do the best they can to provide for their families. They wake up and they want great schools, where every single child can learn and excel.”
The White House on Monday announced its opposition to the bill and said it politicizes public education and makes LGBTQ kids feel excluded in their school community. Instead, the administration called on actions that empower parents to support their children like enabling them to take time off to attend school meetings.
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TikTok calls out members of Congress for “political grandstanding”
After a tough performance by CEO Shou Zi Chew on Thursday, TikTok issued a full-throated defense of its leader amid intensifying support for sweeping action against the app from both sides of the aisle.
“Shou came prepared to answer questions from Congress,” the company said. “But, unfortunately, the day was dominated by political grandstanding that failed to acknowledge the real solutions already underway through [data security initiative] Project Texas or productively address industry-wide issues of youth safety.”
As I wrote in my recap of the hearing:
Members on the House Energy & Commerce Committee from both sides of the aisle expressed contrasting concerns as Republicans were focused on the app’s parent company ByteDance’s relationship with the Chinese government. Democrats, on the other hand, zeroed in on issues of mental health, algorithmic bias, misinformation, and threats to democracy. But they were united in their deep frustration towards TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew for what they characterized as a level of evasiveness that betrayed his repeated promises of transparency.
And while Chew’s testimony did TikTok no favors, it felt like members used the hearing as an opportunity to make themselves right about how dangerous they believe the social app to be and offered him few meaningful opportunities to soothe their concerns.
Nonetheless, Chew still managed to achieve the rare feat of uniting Republicans and Democrats, an outcome that Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley, said he was unsurprised by.
“One of the things that is great about this country still is that we argue a lot amongst ourselves,” he said to Supercreator on Thursday evening. “But when there is a threat that another country poses to the United States, we come together as Americans and people should not underestimate the unity of purpose we show when the nation is in any way threatened.”
“We test kids too darn much”
As House Republicans on Thursday advanced their Parents’ Bill of Rights toward final passage, Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York called attention to another issue he believes is burdening students: Too much testing.
The founder and former principal of the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action, a small middle school located in the northern Bronx, introduced the More Teaching, Less Testing Act to reorient the education system around classroom teaching time instead of annual standardized test preparation and test administration.
“We test kids too darn much. And we test them in two things: [English Language Arts] and math in grades three through eight,” Bowman said to Supercreator in an interview. “What about project-based learning? What about creativity? We need a 21st-century curriculum that gives them the 21st-century skills to solve real-world problems and we’re not doing that right now.”
The bill focuses on ending standardized testing and replacing it with some form of sampling, which would test a statistically representative group of students and lessen the impact on students, teachers and states that testing the entire student population every year has.
The result? “More actual teaching and learning in the classroom because that's where the magic happens,” Bowman said while adding he views education as a pillar of democracy. “So we want to keep the main thing the main thing and keep people’s consciousness on quality education and the possibility of our kids in public schools. Because you can’t have a healthy democracy without a healthy educations system that nurtures our kids.”
President Biden this morning will receive his daily intelligence briefing before participating in an official welcome ceremony and book signing at Parliament Hill in Canada. The president will participate in a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada followed by an address to the Canadian Parliament. The two leaders will also hold a joint press conference. This evening, President Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will attend a dinner hosted by Prime Minister Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau before traveling to Wilmington, Delaware for the weekend.
Dr. Biden will also attend the president’s address to the Parliament. She will also visit Canadian youth and host a conversation with Grégoire Trudeau to discuss youth wellness and mental health. The two will then visit the National Gallery of Canada's Uninvited exhibit celebrating Canadian women artists.
Vice President Kamala Harris will ceremonially swear in Eric Garcetti as Ambassador to India. Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will attend.
Prior to the swearing-in ceremony, Emhoff will speak at Georgetown University about the importance of advancing women’s political participation and leadership around the world.
The House is in this morning and will vote on the Parents’ Bill of Rights.
The Senate is out.
WH challenges the private sector to help Biden end hunger by 2030
The White House this morning announced the Challenge to End Hunger and Build Healthy Communities, a nationwide call to action as part of President Biden’s goal to end hunger, reduce diet-related diseases by 2030, and reduce disparities.
The challenge follows the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health last September where the administration secured $8 billion in commitments from public and private organizations.
“It’s been really incredible to watch the president follow-up on this promise and commitment to end childhood hunger with the conference on hunger and nutrition, expanding SNAP [benefits] and other programs, his current budget and everything that he’s doing,” Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who has led to push in Congress for universal free school meals, said to Supercreator in an interview. “And now I suppose in realizing there might be some limitations on what government can do, he’s getting commitment and buy-in from everyone else.”
The White House also announced a proposed rule to help reduce sodium in the food supply by offering food manufacturers the flexibility to use safe and suitable salt substitutes in foods like cheese and canned vegetables. Additionally, it issued draft guidance that offers manufacturers recommendations on how to better inform consumers about their products and how they can contribute to a nutritious diet.
Omar added the administration’s efforts are a huge part of childhood development and holistic nutrition.
“I’ve seen what [food insecurity] does in a school setting to children when they show up in the morning and they are running late and they’ve missed breakfast. They’re irritated because they probably didn’t get dinner that nigh and getting signaled out [in class] for discipline,” she said. “And it has all to do about our inability to as a society to actually try to feed babies bellies before we try to feed their brains.”
It’s also an issue of competitiveness too.
“If we're not taking care of our little ones, who are going to be the future leaders of this country, we're not going to be able to globally compete.”
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