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Rokita Statement: Markup of H.R. 5, "Student Success Act"

After seven years of delay, today marks an important step in replacing a failing law, one that has deprived students an opportunity to earn a lifetime of success. If stagnant student achievement and disappointing graduation rates have taught us anything, it is that expanding the federal government’s footprint in classrooms does not prepare students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.

No Child Left Behind’s strict rules and onerous regulations and the Obama administration’s inappropriate waiver scheme have hindered progress and stymied local reform efforts to improve learning for every child.

The Student Success Act gets Washington bureaucrats out of the business of running schools and places control back in the hands of the parents and teachers who know their children best.

Before I explain a number of changes in the substitute amendment, I would like to highlight several of the legislation’s key reforms that will repair the nation’s broken education system.

First, the Student Success Act reduces the federal footprint and restores control of the classroom to parents and state and local education leaders.

It prohibits the federal government from encouraging one-size-fits-all prescriptions that may help students in California, but may worsen outcomes for students in Indiana.

The bill repeals ineffective federal requirements governing accountability, teacher quality, and local spending that hamstring the ability of states and school districts to improve student learning for their unique student populations.

The legislation also includes several measures that prevent the Secretary of Education from coercing states to adopt Common Core and from placing additional burdens on states and school districts that affect standards, assessments, and accountability plans.

Second, the Student Success Act empowers parents and state and local education leaders to hold schools accountable for effectively teaching students. It is the right of every parent and taxpayer to know whether their local schools are delivering an excellent education. However, this is a state and local responsibility, not a federal responsibility. The legislation allows states the flexibility to develop their own systems for addressing school performance.

The legislation also expands opportunities for parents and children to escape underperforming or failing schools. Alternative educational options play a critical role to charting a better path for students. In my home state of Indiana, the Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School’s rigorous curriculum and laser-focus on preparing students for higher education has helped more than 80 percent of its alumni earn a bachelor’s degree.

Americans deserve an education system that prepares our children to succeed in colleges, careers, and life. The onus is on us, as elected officials, to enact commonsense reforms that will put power back in the hands of the moms, dads, teachers, administrators, and state officials who can make the biggest difference in every child’s education.

In closing, the proposed substitute makes a number of technical and clarifying changes that will support state and local efforts to improve education. For instance, the substitute clarifies state education leaders should consult with representatives of Indian tribes when developing state plans. It also clarifies federal funds can be used to support all academic subjects and permits states to support local efforts to develop and implement blended learning models for their students. Finally, the substitute helps ensure more schools and students can benefit from effective education practices by supporting the wide dissemination of relevant education research.

I encourage my colleagues to support the substitute and the underlying bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.

 

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