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It’s Time To Repair K-12 Education

If it’s broken, fix it. When it comes to elementary and secondary education, that is precisely what the Education and the Workforce Committee plans to do this week. As any parent, teacher, or administrator knows, the nation’s K-12 education system is in need of repair. Decades of Washington’s oversized footprint have resulted in stagnant student achievement, disappointing graduation rates, and high school graduates entering college and the workforce without the knowledge and resources they need to succeed.

While some in Washington seem more focused on defending the status quo, and the White House continues making the problem worse with a dizzying array of new mandates, House Republicans are committed tocharting a new course, one that reduces the federal role and places control back in the hands of parents and the state and local education leaders who know their children best.

As Indiana Governor Mike Pence said in a recent hearing:

“There’s nothing that ails education that can’t be fixed by giving parents more choices and teachers more freedom to teach.”

We must ensure that states have as much flexibility as possible to hold their schools and teachers accountable. Accountability is critical to educational success. But there is no one accountability system that is right for every state, and I commend [the committee] for recognizing that in the… reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.”

Indiana has made remarkable gains in student achievement, ranking second in total growth on the Nation’s Report Card. Gov. Pence credited his state’s success to an education reform agenda that empowers people – not government bureaucrats – to address the specific needs of every child. If trusting parents, teachers, and local education leaders can work in Indiana, shouldn’t Washington help every state and school district follow suit?

The Student Success Act (H.R. 5) aims to do just that. The legislation provides states the flexibility they need to deliver an excellent education for every child in every school. The legislation promises to:

  • Empower parents and taxpayers with the meaningful information they need to hold their schools accountable, helping to ensure that every dollar spent makes a direct and lasting impact for students.
                             
  • Repeal ineffective federal requirements governing accountability, teacher quality, and local spending that hamper innovation and hamstring the ability of states and school districts to address the unique needs of their students.
                                    
  • Return responsibility for improving underperforming schools to states, parents, and local leaders by eliminating federally-prescribed school improvement and turnaround interventions.
                                
  • Provides states and school districts the flexibility they need to effectively and efficiently improve student learning by eliminating more than 65 ineffective, duplicative, and unnecessary federal programs and replacing this maze of programs with a Local Academic Flexible Grant.
                                               
  • Protect state and local autonomy over decisions in the classroom by prohibiting the Secretary of Education from coercing states to adopt Common Core and placing any additional burdens on states and school districts that affect standards, assessments, and accountability plans.

In an effort to continue an open and transparent process, the Education and the Workforce Committee will consider the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) tomorrow. After seven years of delay and more than a dozen hearings about how to repair a broken education system, it’s time to enact lasting, commonsense solutions.

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