Washington’s role in education is at an all-time high. Today, the Department of Education:
Operates more than 80 programs tied to the nation’s classrooms – the majority of which are ineffective, duplicative, and unnecessary;
Controls how states and school districts gauge student achievement, improve underperforming schools, spend limited taxpayer dollars, and hire and fire teachers; and
Coerces states to adopt preferred policies such as Common Core and school turnaround models through a convoluted, conditional waiver scheme.
What does Washington have to show for this outsized involvement in education? Not much.
Just last month, the nation’s report card revealed student achievement in reading and math declined for the first time since 1990, providing parents, teachers, local leaders, and policymakers more proof that the top-down approach to education isn’t working. That’s why the House and Senate reached agreement on a proposal to replace No Child Left Behind and help roll back Washington’s bloated education bureaucracy. Known as the Every Student Succeeds Act, the bicameral legislation:
Eliminates or consolidates 49 ineffective, duplicative, and unnecessary programs and replaces this maze of programswith the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant, providing states and school districts with more flexibility to serve students and families.
Downsizes the federal education bureaucracy by requiring the secretary of education to identify the number of full-time employee positions associated with consolidated programs and reduce the department’s workforce by an equal number.
Repeals ineffective federal requirements governing accountability, teacher quality, and school improvement that hamper innovation and hamstring the ability of states and school districts to address the unique needs of their students.
Places new and unprecedented restrictions on the authority of the secretary of education, ending his or her ability to impose new requirements on states through executive fiat and ending the era of conditional waivers.
As Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) wrote in Breitbart, the bicameral proposal “gets Washington out of the business of running schools” by significantly reducing the size and scope of the federal government in K-12 education. The Every Student Succeeds Act would “represent the largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter-century” and help ensure parents, teachers, and state and local leaders – not bureaucrats – can provide the support they know their children need.