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Kline: States, School Districts Deserve Flexible, Dynamic Education Policies

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), today held a hearing to examine the appropriate federal role in accountability and explore innovative state and local efforts to hold schools accountable for student performance.

In his opening remarks, Chairman Kline reiterated the importance of reauthorizing the nation’s K-12 education law, known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) or No Child Left Behind, and outlined four Republican priorities for rewriting the law: restore local control, reduce the federal footprint, improve teacher effectiveness, and empower parents.

“We have an opportunity to work together in good faith to bring true reform to America’s K-12 schools. To change the law to more effectively support the teachers, school leaders, superintendents, and parents who are working tirelessly each and every day to ensure our children have the skills they need to succeed,” Chairman Kline said. “We laid a considerable amount of groundwork last Congress, holding 14 hearings with dozens of witnesses to explore the challenges and opportunities facing our schools. I hope we can build upon that progress as we move forward with legislation that will change the law by offering states and school districts the flexible, dynamic education policies they deserve.”

During the hearing, members listened as education leaders described local reforms that have helped raise the bar on student performance and offered recommendations for federal education reforms.

Louisiana State Superintendent of Education John White urged a simpler federal framework for K-12 schools: “Congress must promulgate a framework of accountability, choice, and high quality teaching while keeping its parameters simple for leaders of states, districts, and schools, whose greatest challenge day to day is achieving coherent planning around the needs of students.”

Mr. White added, “A strong ESEA reauthorization will be uncompromising in its commitment to accountability but humble in its view of the federal role and its potential to create confusion more than coherence.”

Dr. Chris Richardson, superintendent of Northfield Public Schools in Northfield, Minnesota, stated, “Congress needs to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as soon as possible, providing all schools and students with relief from the broken, outdated components of current law.” Dr. Richardson stressed the need to “reestablish and recalibrate” the federal and state roles in education. “Federal investment in public education represents, on average, just ten percent of total district expenditures,” he said. “As such, any reauthorization should ensure that federal policy establishes, at most, a proportional role, to avoid the proverbial ‘tail wagging the dog.’”

Mr. Matthew Given, Chief Development Officer of the education solutions firm EdisonLearning, stated, “Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act presents a tremendous opportunity to further innovation that leads to measurable, sustainable improvement for all students. We all agree that schools must be held accountable for teaching all students and cannot walk away from failure.”

To read witness testimony, opening statements, or watch an archived webcast of today’s hearing, visit

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