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Moving in the Right Direction

Advancing Republican Principles: K-12 Education Reform

No Child Left Behind was based on good intentions, but it was also based on the flawed premise that Washington knows best what students need to excel in school. The law led to the greatest federal intrusion into K-12 classrooms and failed to provide students the quality education they need to succeed in life. Instead of working with Congress to replace the law, the Obama administration has been setting national education policy through conditional waivers. Now, parents, teachers, superintendents, and state and local leaders are more frustrated than ever with the federal government micromanaging the schools in their local communities.

House Republicans have long fought to replace No Child Left Behind with a new law based on three basic principles:

  • Reducing the federal role in K-12 education;
  • Restoring local control; and
  • Empowering parents.

After years of executive overreach and congressional inaction, Congress is finally poised to replace No Child Left Behind. Both the House and Senate passed separate bills to reform K-12 education, and a joint conference committee has approved a final proposal to improve elementary and secondary education. On behalf of students, families, teachers, school leaders, and taxpayers, this bipartisan, bicameral proposal advances all three principles supported by House Republicans.

Reducing the federal role

  • Repeals the one-size-fits-all federal accountability system, known as “Adequate Yearly Progress” or AYP.
  • Ends the era of federally-mandated high-stakes testing.
  • Prohibits the secretary of education from dictating national education policy.

The secretary cannot require states to adopt Common Core, or condition receipt of funds on adoption of Common Core. Also, the secretary cannot punish states for getting out of Common Core or changing their standards in any way.

  • Prevents the secretary from legislating through executive fiat.

The secretary is prohibited from adding any new requirements on states and schools not required in law. For example, the secretary cannot mandate teacher evaluations because they are not required by law.

  • Repeals 49 ineffective and duplicative programs, as well as reduces the size of the federal bureaucracy.

Restoring local control

  • Returns responsibility for accountability and school improvement to state and local leaders.
  • Provides school districts more funding flexibility to help school leaders better target federal resources on local needs and priorities.
  • Protects the right of state and local leaders to determine what standards, assessments, and curriculum are best for their students.
  • Preserves the right of states to opt-out of federal education programs.

Empowering parents

  • Provides parents information about local school performance so they have the information they need to do what’s best for their child’s education.
  • Strengthens the charter schools program and the magnet schools program to offer parents greater school choice.
  • Prevents any federal interference in private schools and home schools.
  • Establishes an equitable per-pupil funding program to provide eligible school districts the ability to allocate federal, state, and local education funds to follow students to the school they attend.

The proposal agreed to by the House and Senate conference committee will replace No Child Left Behind with new policies that reduce the federal role, restore local control, and empower parents – principles House Republicans have long championed. It’s time to move forward. If Congress fails to act:

  • The federal government will continue to dictate what’s best for states and schools.
  • The president will continue to impose his education agenda through conditional waivers.
  • Schools will continue to be tied to a flawed federal law, for who knows how long, and children will remain trapped in failing schools.

Now is the time to reduce the federal footprint in the nation’s classrooms and give parents and state and local leaders the certainty and flexibility they need to deliver students an excellent education. Stay tuned over the next few days to learn more about how the House and Senate conference agreement on K-12 education reform will do just that.

To read the final bill, click here

To learn more, visit

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