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Moving in the Right Direction

What If Congress Doesn't Replace NCLB? Part II

Part II: Ineffective, inflexible federal law will remain the norm

The Obama administration’s temporary, conditional waiver scheme has masked the harsh reality of America’s current K-12 education landscape: No Child Left Behind remains the law of the land. In other words:                  
  • Virtually all schools are considered failing under the law’s one-size-fits-all, high-stakes accountability system, known as ‘Adequate Yearly Progress,’ and are required to adopt federally prescribed school improvement interventions;
  • Limited taxpayer dollars are spent on ineffective, duplicative, and unnecessary federal programs that impose tremendous paperwork and regulatory burdens on education leaders and have done little – if anything – to improve student achievement;  
    • Schools must hire teachers based on their credentials, not their ability to effectively teach, under the law’s ‘Highly Qualified Teacher’ mandate; and
      • States and local communities are subjected to arbitrary funding requirements, such as ‘Maintenance of Effort,’ that dictate how they can spend taxpayer dollars, stymying innovative efforts to improve student learning.

      The president’s waiver scheme only exacerbates this reality, embedding additional mandates dictated by the Department of Education “for years to come.”

      Until Congress passes a new K-12 education law, students, states, and school districts will remain tied to a failing status quo that reflects Washington’s heavy-handed approach to education. As the School Superintendents Association wrote of NCLB:

      [We] 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.

      The Student Success Act brings Congress one step closer to replacing NCLB with conservative reforms that reduce the federal role, restore local control, and empower parents and education leaders by:

      • Repealing 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; 
      • Preventing federal meddling in state and local issues, such as standards, assessments, and Common Core;
      • Ending the era of federally-mandated high stakes testing, while ensuring parents, taxpayers, and education leaders have the information they need to hold their neighborhood schools accountable;
      • Returning responsibility for improving underperforming schools to states, parents, and local leaders by eliminating federally-prescribed school improvement and turnaround interventions; and
      • Eliminating 69 ineffective, duplicative, and unnecessary programs and replacing this maze of programs with a Local Academic Flexible Grant, providing states and school districts the flexibility they need to effectively and efficiently improve student learning.

       As former advisor to President Reagan and education scholar at the Heritage Foundation Jeanne Allen recently wrote

      The Student Success Act represents the epitome of both a conservative agenda and a move toward providing equity and educational justice to children whose parents and teachers are their best advocates. Failing to pass it reinforces bad policy and does nothing to help our children or our nation gain a competitive edge.

      House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) said of the need for legislative action, “Americans have waited long enough for reforms that will fix a broken education system.” It’s time for Congress to enact a new law that helps every student in every school receive an excellent education. It’s time to pass the Student Success Act.

      To learn more about the Student Success Act, click here.

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