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Moving in the Right Direction

Restoring Local Control of K-12 Education

Under No Child Left Behind, federal bureaucrats exercise decision-making power that once rested with states and school districts. Today, Washington controls how states hold schools accountable, how schools hire classroom teachers, and how school districts spend taxpayer dollars. States looking for relief from the federal government’s onerous requirements were greeted with new rules set by the Obama administration’s conditional, temporary waiver scheme.

This federal grip on America’s classrooms has limited the ability of parents, teachers, and state and local leaders to deliver a quality education to their students. That is why the House-Senate conference committee reached agreement on a proposal that scraps No Child Left Behind and restores local control of K-12 education. Known as the Every Student Succeeds Act, the bicameral, commonsense agreement:
  • Returns responsibility for accountability and school improvement to state and local leaders by eliminating the federal accountability system, known as “Adequate Yearly Progress” or AYP.
  • Provides school districts more funding flexibility to help school leaders better address local priorities by repealing 49 federal programs and replacing that maze of programs with the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant.
  • Protects the rights of states and school districts to determine what standards are best for their students by prohibiting any agent of the federal government from mandating, promoting, or incentivizing a particular set of standards such as Common Core.
  • Protects the right of states to opt-out of federal education programs.
  • Provides eligible school districts the ability to have federal, state, and local funds follow students to the schools they attend, which will help encourage excellent schools to enroll students who are harder to serve.
  • Repeals ineffective mandates dictating teacher quality, known as the “Highly Qualified Teacher” definition.

As the Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote,

A bipartisan compromise has emerged from the Senate and House that isn’t perfect but would represent the largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter-century. It’s far better than the status quo that would continue if nothing passes.

Gone are No Child Left Behind’s proficiency benchmarks and mandated federal interventions. The Education Department wouldn’t be able to prescribe accountability systems and standards.

The bicameral conference agreement to replace No Child Left Behind is an important opportunity to restore control of K-12 education to where it belongs: state and local education leaders.

To read the final bill, click here.

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