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Moving in the Right Direction

5 Ways the #StudentSuccessAct Gets Washington out of the Business of Running Schools

Our current elementary and secondary education system is failing. Despite the federal government’s ever expanding footprint in K-12 classrooms, student achievement remains stagnant. It’s no wonder out of 34 countries that participate in the Programme for International Student Assessment, the U.S. ranks 20th and 27th in science and math, respectively.

The Obama administration has only made the problem worse, stymying state and local efforts to improve student learning with one-size-fits-all programs promoted through executive fiat.

Education leaders across the country are voicing frustration with this failed status quo:

  • [American Association of School Administrators] opposed No Child Left Behind since the legislation was introduced, citing the law’s federal overreach, punitive measures, assumption that federal government knows best what local schools need, and unworkable mandates and requirements.
  • [Home School Legal Defense Association] is very concerned with the federal government’s use of federal funds to pressure the states into adopting the Common Core and other educational initiatives.
  • [American Association of Christian Schools] reject the notion that educational decisions are best made at the federal level​ ... we believe the best educational system creates an environment where decision-making power resides at the local level and allows educational diversity to thrive without burdensome federal regulations.

This week, the House of Representatives will consider the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), a proposal that departs from the current top-down approach to education and returns the responsibility for delivering a quality education to states and school districts.

Here are 5 ways the bill gets Washington out of the business of running America’s schools:

  1. The Student Success Act restores state and local autonomy over decisions in the classroom by preventing the Secretary of Education from coercing states into adopting Common Core or any other common standards or assessments.
  2. The Student Success Act provides states the flexibility they need to effectively and efficiently improve student learning by eliminating more than 65 ineffective, duplicative, and unnecessary programs and replacing this maze of programs with a Local Academic Flexible Grant.
  3. The Student Success Act downsizes the federal education bureaucracy by requiring the Secretary of Education to identify the number of full-time employee positions associated with consolidated or eliminated programs and reduce the department’s workforce accordingly.
  4. The Student Success Act repeals ineffective federal requirements governing accountability, teacher quality, and local spending and returns these responsibilities to states and school districts.
  5. The Student Success Act prevents the Secretary of Education from creating additional burdens on states and school districts, particularly in the areas of standards, assessments, and accountability plans and reforms the regulatory process to provide the public with greater transparency and accountability over the development of new rules affecting K-12 schools.

In the words of the School Superintendents Association:

[The Student Success Act] is a strong step in the right direction because it restores a more proper balance between federal, state and local government in public education ... The bill recognizes the importance of empowering state and local leaders to use their professional knowledge and proximal location to make the decisions necessary to successfully adhere to their educational missions.

Washington bureaucrats and special interests have overreached into K-12 education for far too long. It’s time to place power back in the hands of moms, dads, teachers, and administrators who can make the most meaningful, direct, and lasting impact in every child’s education.

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