WASHINGTON, D.C. | December 2, 2015 -
After years of congressional delay and executive overreach, Congress is finally replacing No Child Left Behind
. But more importantly, we are replacing the old approach to education with a new approach that will help every child in every school receive an excellent education.
For more than a decade, Washington has been micromanaging our classrooms. Federal rules now dictate how states and local communities measure student achievement, fix broken schools, spend taxpayer resources, and hire and fire their teachers.
No Child Left Behind was based on good intentions, but it was also based on the flawed premise that Washington knows what students need to succeed in school. And what do we have to show for it?
Less than half of all 4th and 8th graders are proficient in reading and math. An achievement gap continues to separate poor and minority students from their more affluent peers. In some neighborhoods, children are far more likely to drop out of high school than earn a diploma.
Parents, teachers, superintendents, and other education leaders have been telling us for years that the top-down approach to education isn’t working. Yet some still believe that more programs, more mandates, and more bureaucrats will help get this right. Well, those days will soon be over.
Today we turn the page on the failed status-quo and turn over to our nation’s parents and our state and local leaders the authority, flexibility, and certainty they need to deliver children an excellent education.
We reached this moment because replacing No Child Left Behind has long been a leading priority for House Republicans. For years we have fought to improve K-12 education with three basic principles: reducing the federal role, restoring local control, and empowering parents. The final bill by the House and Senate conference committee reflects these principles.
The bill reduces the federal role in K-12 education by repealing dozens of ineffective programs, placing unprecedented restrictions on the secretary of education, eliminating one-size-fits-all schemes around accountability and school improvement, ending the era of high-stakes testing, and preventing this administration and future administrations from coercing or incentivizing states to adopt Common Core.
The bill restores local control by protecting the right of states to opt-out of federal education programs and delivering new funding flexibility so taxpayer resources are better spent on local priorities. The conference agreement also returns to states and school districts the responsibility for accountability and school improvement. A set of broad parameters will help taxpayers know if their money is being well-spent, while ensuring state and local leaders have the authority necessary to run their schools.
And the bill empowers parents by providing moms and dads with the information they need to hold their schools accountable. The conference agreement also strengthens school choice by reforming programs affecting charter schools and magnet schools, and prevents any federal interference with our nation’s private schools and home schools.
Reducing the federal role. Restoring local control. Empowering parents. These are the principles we have fought for because these are the principles that will help give every child a shot at a quality education. Now, let me be clear, this is not a perfect bill. To make progress you find common ground. But make no mistake, we compromised on the details and we did not compromise our principles.
The American people are tired of waiting for us to replace a flawed education law. They are tired of the federal intrusion, the conditional waivers, and the federal coercion. Most importantly, they are tired of seeing their kids trapped in failing schools. Let’s do the job we were sent here to do. Let’s replace No Child Left Behind with new policies based on principles we believe in.
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