WASHINGTON, D.C. | January 9, 2012
House Education and the Workforce Committee Republicans recently released two pieces of draft legislation designed to enhance school accountability, improve flexibility, and support more effective teachers in American classrooms.
The bills, which build upon previous legislative efforts, signal Republicans remain staunchly committed to reforming K-12 education law. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, currently known as No Child Left Behind, has been due for reauthorization since 2007.
There is widespread agreement that the current law is no longer effectively serving students. In an op-ed recognizing the 10-year anniversary of No Child Left Behind, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the law “has significant flaws” and “states and school districts need relief.” Duncan singled out the law’s Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) metric, stating “the one-size-fits-all accountability system has mislabeled schools as failures even if their students are demonstrating real academic growth.”
Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) echoed these sentiments, stressing the need to move forward with reform. In a column for CNN.com, Chairman Kline wrote, “Every child deserves to be inspired by a great teacher, just as every student deserves access to a quality education.” He concluded, “The urgency to reform the law has never been greater.”
Since the start of the 112th Congress, House Republicans have worked tirelessly to find a better way forward for America’s education system. Through numerous hearings, roundtables, and meetings with superintendents, teachers, parents, and state and local officials, committee members closely examined the major issues facing the nation’s classrooms. As a result of these discussions, the committee developed and advanced three education bills last summer. The draft legislation released by Chairman Kline last week reaffirms Republicans’ determination to overhaul the heavy-handed law and ensure more children have access to a quality education.
The draft policies outlined in the Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act will replace the existing federal accountability system, which has been widely criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike, with state-developed and implemented accountability systems. The legislation will also support additional flexibility in the use of federal education funds, help provide better information to parents on teacher effectiveness, and increase school choice.
“This is an important step forward in the ongoing debate on the best way to improve education in America,” Kline said upon the release of the draft legislation. “Regardless of the differences between elected leaders in Washington, education reform is an issue that will shape future generations, and we cannot afford to let the conversation stall.”
Throughout the week, the committee will release a series of documents outlining how the new proposals benefit children and families, protect schools from overly prescriptive federal mandates, and encourage innovation in the classroom.
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