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Moving in the Right Direction

#StudentSuccessAct: Commonsense Reforms the American People Deserve

Last month, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan extended the administration’s intrusion into K-12 classrooms when he renewed a controversial temporary, conditional waiver scheme in several states. This is not the first time the secretary has issued waivers – bypassing Congress to dictate education policy is a common theme of this administration. It is, however, the first time the secretary has issued waivers that will continue to burden states long after he leaves office (through the end of the 2018-2019 school year). As Education Week reported:

[This] process may well be the Obama administration's last, best chance to put its stamp on the No Child Left Behind Act before leaving office in 2017. It's unclear whether the next president—Republican or Democrat—will continue with the administration's waiver scheme … But even if the waivers don't stay in place very much longer, they could inform state accountability systems for years to come.

This is just the latest example of how the administration has forced on states and school districts a backdoor education agenda that includes Common Core. Despite all of the administration’s pet projects, we have made little progress in raising student achievement and improving graduation rates for all students.

  • Only 36 percent of 8th graders are reading at grade level.
  • Only 26 percent of 12th graders are proficient in math.
  • One out of every five students is dropping out of school.

Children and families deserve better than education policy written haphazardly, unilaterally, and without input from the American people – they deserve a new education law that protects state, local, and parental autonomy over education and addresses the unique needs of students.

Fortunately, this week, the House of Representatives is expected to complete consideration of the Student Success Act, a proposal to replace the Washington-knows-best approach to education with conservative reforms that reduce the federal footprint and restore local control while empowering parents and education leaders. The legislation will:

  • Prevent the secretary of education from creating additional burdens on states and school districts, particularly in the areas of standards, assessments, and accountability plans;
  • Repeal ineffective federal requirements governing accountability, teacher quality, and local spending that stifle innovation and limit the ability of states and school districts to address the unique needs of their students;
  • Restore 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;
  • Expand educational options for parents and children by reforming the Charter School Program to support the development and replication of high-quality charter schools;
  • Provide states and school districts the flexibility they need to effectively and efficiently improve student learning;
  • Eliminate more than 65 ineffective, duplicative, and unnecessary federal programs and replace this maze of programs with a Local Academic Flexible Grant; and
    • End 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.

    Organizations such as the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Council for American Private Education, Family Research Council, School Superintendents Association, Committee on Catholic Education of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Council of Chief State School Officers, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, and Homeschool Legal Defense Association have expressed support for the reforms in the Student Success Act because they know the legislation will strengthen K-12 education for students across America.

    After decades of top-down education policy and years of the Obama administration running schools through executive fiat, it’s time to advance bold reforms that help every child – regardless of background, income, or zip code – 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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