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Guthrie Statement: Consideration of H. J. Res. 58

The purpose of the resolution under consideration is simple: Reining in the federal role in education and protecting the state and local control promised to students, parents, and education leaders.

Under the Higher Education Act, teacher preparation programs are required to provide certain information to state leaders to help determine the effectiveness of those programs. The state then submits an annual report card to the Department of Education that highlights the quality of their teacher preparation programs.

Additionally, the Higher Education Act provides TEACH Grants to high-achieving students who commit to teaching math, science, reading, or a foreign language at high-need schools. To ensure taxpayer dollars are being used responsibly, the law requires that grant recipients attend an institution that provides “high-quality teacher preparation and professional development services.”

In 2012, the Obama administration began a rulemaking process to develop federal criteria for state teacher preparation report cards. For the first time — and without congressional authorization — the rule that came out of that process tied eligibility for TEACH grants to the state’s teacher preparation report card. That flawed and controversial rule is the reason we are here today.

We all agree that accountability is important, particularly when it comes to ensuring our students receive the high-quality education they deserve. However, it’s also important that state and local leaders have the flexibility they need to make decisions that affect the schools and programs in their local communities. 

Teacher preparation should be addressed through reauthorization of the Higher Education Act — not unilaterally by executive fiat. That’s exactly what the Obama administration did by forcing its one-size-fits all approach to education on teacher preparation programs.

The rule requires states to track new teachers across three performance levels: student learning outcomes, employment outcomes, and employer surveys. In doing so, it essentially creates a federal mandate for teacher evaluations that Congress explicitly rejected with the Every Student Succeeds Act. The regulation assumes the federal government knows better than local education leaders when it comes to what makes an effective teacher, and to make matters worse, it will also result in fewer teachers opting to teach students in low-income neighborhoods and schools.

Teachers play an important role in helping students learn and succeed—both in and out of the classroom. Unfortunately, as it did so often, the Obama administration overreached and took a flawed approach to preparing teachers to meet the needs of their students. The teacher preparation rule blatantly ignores the principles guiding recent bipartisan education reforms and will make it more difficult for state and local leaders to help ensure teachers are ready to succeed.

The resolution under consideration — H. J. Res 58 — will block the implementation of this misguided policy and protect state and local control over decisions affecting their teachers and students. The federal government has played too large a role in education for far too long. I urge my colleagues to vote in support of this resolution, and help rein in the federal government’s role in education.

Thank you, and I reserve the balance of my time.