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Floor Statements

Rokita Statement: H.R 5, the Student Success Act

Every student deserves an effective teacher, an engaging classroom, and a quality education that paves the path for a bright and prosperous future. Unfortunately, despite the best of intentions, the nation’s current K-12 education law has failed to provide students this fundamental right. In fact, the law has only gotten in the way.

No Child Left Behind’s onerous requirements and the Obama administration’s waiver scheme and pet projects have created a one-size-fits-all system that hinders innovation and stymies local efforts to improve student learning. As a result, too many young adults leave high school today without basic knowledge in reading, math, and science; ill-equipped to complete college and compete in the workforce; and, consequently, deprived of one of the best opportunities they have to earn a lifetime of success.

Americans have settled for this status quo for far too long. Today we have an opportunity to chart a new course.

The Student Success Act departs from the top-down approach that has inefficiently and ineffectively governed elementary and secondary education and restores responsibility to its rightful stewards: parents, teachers, and state and local education leaders.

First, the bill gets the federal government out of the business of running schools. It eliminates the dizzying maze of mandates that has dictated local decisions, and downsizes the bloated bureaucracy at the Department of Education that has focused on what Washington wants rather than what students need.

Second, the bill empowers parents and education leaders with transparency, choice, and flexibility. It ensures parents continue to have the information they need to hold schools accountable and helps more families escape underperforming schools by expanding alternative education options such as quality charter schools. It also provides states the flexibility to develop their own systems for addressing school performance, and the autonomy to use federal funds in the most efficient way.

With the Student Success Act, we have an opportunity to overcome a failed status quo. We have an opportunity to reduce the federal footprint in the nation’s classrooms. And we have an opportunity to signal to moms, dads, teachers, administrators, and state officials that we trust them to hold schools accountable for delivering a quality education to every child.

As the governor of my home state of Indiana Mike Pence said before the House Education and the Workforce Committee earlier month, “There’s nothing that ails education that can’t be fixed by giving parents more choices and teachers more freedom to teach.” I’m confident this bill does just that.


I urge my colleagues to join me in replacing a broken law with much-needed commonsense education reforms, and ask you to vote ‘yes’ on the Student Success Act.

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