WASHINGTON, D.C. | April 7, 2011 -
U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce today held the first in a series of hearings to examine specific education reform proposals. The hearing, entitled “Education Reforms: Promoting Innovation and Flexibility,” brought school superintendents and administrators to Washington, D.C. to discuss solutions needed to fix the problems in the nation’s education system.
In his opening remarks, Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) praised the parents, grandparents, teachers, reformers and community leaders who are “shining a bright light on a broken system and pursuing real change that puts children first.” However, he noted the federal bureaucracy and its prescriptive mandates often weigh down the nation’s schools and make it more difficult for reformers to make meaningful progress.
“Clearly a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work, resulting in frustration among parents and educators and missed opportunities for students,” said Chairman Kline. “If we are going to move forward in education, Washington has to move in a new direction. States and schools should be able to set their own innovative priorities and receive maximum flexibility to advance those priorities.”
Citing the challenges presented by current federal law, Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Janet Barresi said, “On the one hand, the U.S. Department of Education has issued guidelines that on the surface seem to offer states more flexibility to meet local needs. But there seems to be a disconnect between good intentions at the top level and what actually occurs in practice.”
Lakeville Area Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Gary Amoroso described the success of local reforms, such as the Response to Intervention approach and curriculum-based formative assessments. Dr. Amoroso said, “In Lakeville, these programs have been implemented at three schools only though grant funding. I say with certainty that all students in Lakeville would benefit if we had the flexibility in funding to provide these programs.”
Mr. Yohance C. Maqubela, chief operating officer of a public charter school in the District of Columbia, noted the unique opportunities improved flexibility affords charter schools: “Through the flexibility provided in charter school legislation, we have been able to create a truly unique educational model for our student population that takes into account and addresses the specific circumstances that have shaped their lives, without compromising our commitment to the highest levels of academic excellence.”
Chairman Kline expressed cautious optimism that the Committee may soon introduce the first in a series of education reform bills designed to increase flexibility at the state and local level.
To read witness testimony, opening statements, or watch an archived webcast of the hearing, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.