WASHINGTON, D.C. | February 25, 2015
This week, we have an opportunity to advance bold reforms that will strengthen K-12 education for children across America.
A great education can be the great equalizer, it can open doors to unlimited possibilities and provide students the tools they need to succeed in life. Every child in every school deserves an excellent education, yet we are failing to provide every child that opportunity.
Today, approximately one out of five students drop out of high school, and many who do graduate are going to college or entering the workforce with a subpar education. The number of students proficient in reading and math is abysmal. The achievement gap separating minority students from their peers is appalling. Parents have little to no options to rescue their children from failing schools.
A broken education system has plagued families for decades. Year after year, policymakers lament the problems and talk about solutions, and once in a while a law is enacted that promises to improve our education system. Unfortunately, past efforts have largely failed because they are based on the idea that Washington knows what’s best for children. We’ve doubled down on this flawed approach repeatedly and it isn’t working.
Federal mandates dictate how to gauge student achievement, how to define qualified teachers, how to spend money at the state and local levels, and how to improve underperforming schools. And now, thanks to the unprecedented overreach of the current administration, the Department of Education is dictating policies concerning teacher evaluations, academic standards, and more.
No one questions whether parents, teachers, and local education leaders are committed to their students, yet there are some who question whether they are capable of making the best decisions for their students.
Success in school should be determined by those who teach inside our classrooms; by administrators who understand the challenges facing their communities; by parents who know better than anyone the needs of their children.
If every child is going to receive a quality education, then we need to place less faith in the Secretary of Education and more faith in parents, teachers, and state and local leaders.
That is why I am proud to sponsor the Student Success Act
. By reducing the federal footprint, restoring local control, and empowering parents and education leaders, this commonsense bill will move our country in a better direction.
The Student Success Act
provides states and school districts more flexibility to fund local priorities, not Washington’s priorities. The legislation eliminates dozens of ineffective or duplicative programs so that each dollar makes a direct, meaningful, and lasting impact in classrooms.
The bill strengthens accountability by replacing the current national scheme with state-led accountability systems, returning to states the responsibility to measure student performance and improve struggling schools.
The Student Success Act also ensures parents have the information they need to hold their schools accountable. It’s their tax money, but more importantly, it is their children and they deserve to know how their schools are performing.
The bill reaffirms that choice is a powerful lifeline for families with children in failing schools by extending the magnet school program, expanding access to high-quality charter schools, and allowing federal funds to follow low-income students to the traditional public or charter school of the parent’s choice.
Finally, the Student Success Act reins in the authority of the Secretary of Education. We must stop the Secretary from unilaterally imposing his will on schools and this bill will do just that.
Perhaps that is why the White House and powerful special interests are teaming up to defeat this legislation. They fear the bill will lead to less control in Washington and more control in states and school districts. Let me assure the American people: that is precisely what this bill will do.
I urge my colleagues to help all children, regardless of background, income, or zip code, receive an excellent education by supporting the Student Success Act.
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