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Hearing Highlights Important Education Reforms Underway at the State and Local Level, Examines Effectiveness of Federal Spending and Intervention

The U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing today to learn from state and local leaders in education and examine the federal role in the day-to-day operation of the nation’s classrooms.

"Congress must understand the challenges facing our education system, hear the concerns of state and local leaders intimately involved with what goes on in the classroom, and begin to chart a different course that ensures the innovation and accountability being driven at the local level can succeed,” said Chairman John Kline.

Dr. Tony Bennett, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, described the innovative solutions underway at the state level to improve the academic achievement of Indiana students. Speaking of his state’s reform agenda, Dr. Bennett stated, “Our plan to address it must be comprehensive. No single solution will give all students the high-quality education they deserve. Our approach is to attack all of the problems simultaneously from multiple angles. We know that’s what it will take to transform our current system into one that expects and supports excellence for all students.”

Lisa Graham Keegan, founder of the Education Breakthrough Network, shared her knowledge of the current reform taking place across the country: “This is not about one narrow policy, or a single set of political ideologies. This transformation is marked by a basic belief: our students can and should be leaders in academic attainment. No equivocation, no apology, no excuses.” She went on to say, “The key to understanding education in America today is to understand we are already deep in the midst of this desperately needed transformation.”

Speaking of the federal role in education, Andrew Coulson, director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute, provided a startling summary of the results of the federal government’s increasing involvement in education: “To sum up, we have little to show for the $2 trillion in federal education spending of the past half century. In the face of concerted and unflagging efforts by Congress and the states, public schooling has suffered a massive productivity collapse—it now costs three times as much to provide essentially the same education as we provided in 1970.”

While the hearing highlighted important state and local reforms and the federal role in education, it also called for a new thinking of how education dollars are spent. “We must fundamentally change the conversation,” said Dr. Bennett, “from ‘How do we get more money for education?’ to ‘How do we get more education for our money?’”

Chairman Kline echoed those sentiments: “Since 1980, federal spending on education has increased by 425 percent yet student achievement has failed to improve. Clearly, the current system isn’t working. It is time we stopped measuring our commitment to education by the dollars we spend.”

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