WASHINGTON, D.C. | March 1, 2011
Today’s hearing is the first in a series the committee will convene to examine federal rules and regulations that are undermining the strength of the nation’s education system.
Education is critical to fostering a competitive workforce, encouraging a strong economy, and improving the prosperity of future generations. The further a student can advance in his or her education, the more likely he or she will be able to secure a stable job, earn a sustainable income, and have the tools necessary to build a successful future.
The current state of education in America is troubling and unacceptable. Every year, more than a million students fail to graduate from high school. Making matters worse, an increasing number of students who complete high school are unable to meet the costs associated with higher learning. Those who do attend college can emerge without the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in the workplace.
The nation’s education system is clearly broken, despite escalating intervention by policy makers in Washington over the last 45 years.
In 1994, the Government Accountability Office conducted a review of federal education regulations at the K-12 level and the burden they placed on state and local school leaders. The GAO discovered states employed 13,400 full-time individuals to implement federal education programs. At the time, the federal government imposed 41 percent of the administrative burden yet paid just 7 percent of the total cost.
Although those figures are more than a decade old, the situation hasn’t improved. In fact, it has gotten worse. Recent reforms at the federal level have exacerbated the burdens placed on state and local school leaders. States and school districts work 7.8 million hours each year collecting and disseminating information required under Title I of federal education law. Those hours cost more than $235 million. The burden is tremendous, and this is just one of many federal laws weighing down our schools.
Evidence of this costly dynamic was clearly visible during the administration’s recent experiment with Race to the Top. Instead of rewarding states for pursuing innovative solutions to advance student achievement, the administration forced states to navigate an overly complicated, expensive process and adopt policies that reflect the priorities of Washington bureaucrats.
The administration has also tied assistance for states to improve under-performing schools to a one-size-fits-all plan to boost failing schools. Instead of instituting the commonsense reforms our nation needs, initiatives like this merely extend the status quo.
The trend of imposing onerous mandates that lead to greater costs and paperwork burdens is also happening in higher education. The latest rounds of negotiated rulemaking didn’t actually clarify the law; rather they made it more confusing – forcing schools to redirect critical funds to pay the inevitable fines or hire outside counsel to help make sense of the new regulations. This Washington-knows-best approach is not helping our nation’s education system improve; instead, it is increasing regulatory burdens on schools and piling more costs on the backs of our students.
We have to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and effectively. But we must also ensure federal mandates aren’t roadblocks to success in our nation’s classrooms. Anyone who has talked to a superintendent or teacher understands that federal law can stand in the way of innovative solutions and meaningful reform. Reducing the regulatory burden placed on our education system makes good fiscal sense and good policy sense.
The House has charged this Committee to look at rules and regulations within our jurisdiction that may hinder job creation and economic growth. Today’s hearing is part of that important effort, and we will leave no stone unturned as we look to strengthen education and the workforce.
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