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David Adam Smith on Education

Democratic Representative (WA-9)

 


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 NO 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

Offer every parent Charter Schools and public school choice.

Smith adopted the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":

Create World-Class Public Schools
Now more than ever, quality public education is the key to equal opportunity and upward mobility in America. Yet our neediest children often attend the worst schools. While lifting the performance of all schools, we must place special emphasis on strengthening those institutions serving, and too often failing, low-income students.

To close this achievement and opportunity gap, underperforming public schools need more resources, and above all, real accountability for results. Accountability means ending social promotion, measuring student performance with standards-based assessments, and testing teachers for subject-matter competency.

As we demand accountability, we should ensure that every school has the resources needed to achieve higher standards, including safe and modern physical facilities, well-paid teachers and staff, and opportunities for remedial help after school and during summers. Parents, too, must accept greater responsibility for supporting their children’s education.

We need greater choice, competition, and accountability within the public school system, not a diversion of public funds to private schools that are unaccountable to taxpayers. With research increasingly showing the critical nature of learning in the early years, we should move toward universal access to pre-kindergarten education.

Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC2 on Aug 1, 2000

Reduce class size to 18 children in grades 1 to 3.

Smith co-sponsored an amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act:

    Amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to establish a grants program to:

  1. recruit, train, and hire 100,000 additional teachers over a seven-year period ;

  2. reduce class sizes nationally, in grades one through three, to an average of 18 students per classroom; and

  3. improve teaching in the early grades so that all students can learn to read independently and well by the end of the third grade.
Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HR1036 on Mar 14, 2001

Firmly opposed to Bush’s voucher proposal.

Smith signed the Senate New Democrat Coalition letter to Pres.-Elect Bush:

Dear President-Elect Bush,

As members of the Senate New Democrat Coalition and the House New Democrat Coalition, our first and foremost [priority is] education reform. As you know, a bicameral group of New Democrats introduced the “3 Rs” legislation last year. The “3Rs” bill is an example of the kind of bold, innovative approach that can form the basis of a bipartisan agreement to reform our public schools and boost the opportunities of our public schools. We are also well aware that you have endorsed a similar plan. While we remain firmly opposed to the voucher portion of your proposal, we believe that there are many areas of similarity in both approaches, providing an excellent opportunity for bipartisan agreement and compromise. We intend to re-introduce the “3Rs” legislation at the earliest opportunity later this month, and we look forward to working with you.

Source: Senate New Democrat Coalition letter to Pres.-Elect Bush 01-SNDC1 on Jan 11, 2001

Three R’s: $35B for Reinvestment,Reinvention,Responsibility.

Smith co-sponsored the Senate New Democrat Coalition Press Release:

The Public Education Reinvestment, Reinvention and Responsibility Act (Three R's) [is] the common ground from which bipartisan compromise on education reform will be successfully achieved. The Three R’s would provide public schools with significantly increased funding and flexibility, increasing federal investment in education by $35 billion over the next 5 years, and targeting most of those new dollars toward closing the persistent achievement gap between poor and more affluent students. State & local officials would be given broader latitude to decide how to allocate federal funding in order to meet the specific needs of their communities. In return, states would be required to set standards for raising academic achievement, and improve the quality of their teachers.

Source: Senate New Democrat Coalition Press Release 01-SNDC5 on Jan 23, 2001

Rated 75% by the NEA, indicating pro-public education votes.

Smith scores 75% 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 extending subsidized federal student loan rates until 2015.

Smith 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.

Smith 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.

Smith 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

2017-18 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Education: David Adam Smith on other issues:
WA Gubernatorial:
Bill Bryant
Jay Inslee
Phil Fortunato
WA Senatorial:
Chris Vance
Dave Strider
Jennifer Ferguson
Maria Cantwell
Mike Luke
Patty Murray
Susan Hutchison

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
VA-2:Luria ; VA-7:Spanberger ; VA-10:Wexton
WA-8:Schrier
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Page last updated: May 19, 2020