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The Student Success Act: Reducing the Federal Footprint


Over the last four decades, the federal government’s role in K-12 education has increased dramatically. Despite tripling federal funding since 1965, student achievement has remained flat. Meanwhile, the Department of Education currently operates more than 80 programs tied to K-12 classrooms. Many of these programs are duplicative or ineffective, and each comes bundled with its own set of strict rules dictating exactly how funds may be spent by state and local school leaders.

Instead of working with Congress to fix the problems in the nation’s education system, the Obama administration has taken unprecedented action to further expand its authority over America’s schools. Through the president’s waiver scheme and pet programs such as Race to the Top, the Secretary of Education has granted himself carte blanche to use taxpayer dollars to coerce states into enacting the president’s preferred education reforms. Adding insult to injury, President Obama continues to push for more federal education spending, requesting a staggering $97.1 billion in mandatory and discretionary funds for the Department of Education in his Fiscal Year 2014 budget.


Our children deserve better. It’s time to acknowledge more taxpayer dollars and more federal intrusion can’t address the challenges facing schools. The Student Success Act (H.R. 5)will streamline the nation’s education system by eliminating dozens of convoluted programs, cutting through the bureaucratic red tape that is stifling innovation in the classroom, and granting states and school districts the authority to use federal education funds to meet the unique needs of their students. Additionally, H.R. 5 will take definitive steps to limit the Secretary of Education’s authority and halt executive overreach. Finally, the Student Success Act puts states and local school leaders back in charge of holding schools accountable for student achievement and determining how best to improve low-performing schools.


  • Reins in the Secretary of Education by prohibiting the secretary from coercing states into adopting specific academic standards and imposing extraneous conditions on state and school districts in exchange for a waiver of K-12 education law. 
  • Protects state and local autonomy over decisions in the classroom by removing the secretary’s authority to add new requirements to federal programs.
  • Prioritizes state and local decision-making by scrapping the federally-dictated accountability and school improvement systems and the onerous Highly Qualified Teacher requirements, instead empowering states to develop and implement individual systems that are more closely aligned with local priorities.
  • Eliminates more than 70 federal K-12 education programs, consolidating program funding into a Local Academic Flexible Grant that school districts will use to support local priorities.
  • Repeals federal funding requirements that arbitrarily restrict state and local policymakers’ ability to set their own budget priorities. 

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