Rokita Statement: Hearing on "Next Steps for K-12 Education: Implementing the Promise to Restore State and Local Control"
WASHINGTON, D.C., February 10, 2016
After years of flawed policies and federal intrusions into the nation’s classrooms, Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act based on the principle that responsibility of K-12 education must be returned to state and local leaders. The new law repeals onerous federal requirements and ensures important decisions affecting education – like standards, accountability, and school improvement – are made by state and local leaders, not Washington bureaucrats.
That’s why the Wall Street Journal editorial board described the legislation as “the largest devolution of power to the states in a quarter century” and why the National Governors Association lauded the new law as “an historic moment in ensuring children’s future success in the nation’s schools.”
There is no question that replacing No Child Left Behind was an important achievement, one that will improve K-12 education for students and families. But our work is far from finished. In fact, it is just beginning. Over the last several years, this administration has routinely taken a top-down approach to education, imposing on states and school districts a backdoor agenda that has sparked bipartisan opposition and harmed education reform efforts.
The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act puts states and school districts back in charge of education, and includes more than 50 pages of provisions to keep the Department of Education in check. For example, the law protects the right of state and local leaders to determine what standards, assessments, and curriculum are best for their students, and ensures state and local leaders are responsible for accountability and school improvement.
Moving forward, it’s our collective responsibility to hold the Department of Education accountable for how it implements the law. Congress promised to restore state and local control over K-12 education, and now it’s our job to ensure that promise is kept. Hearing from you – the very leaders we want to empower – is a critical part of that effort. What do you expect from the new law? What role do state and local leaders play in implementing the law? What challenges do you anticipate states and school districts may face? How can the department provide the increased flexibility and autonomy state and local leaders were promised?
Today’s conversation is one of many steps we plan to take to ensure the department upholds the letter and spirit of the law, and answers to these questions will inform our efforts moving forward. It is my firm belief that when the Every Student Succeeds Act is implemented as Congress intended, parents, teachers, and state and local leaders will be empowered to deliver the excellent education every child deserves.