Politicians have tried for decades to fix our schools with a “Washington-knows-best” approach. But, this top-down scheme hasn’t improved student achievement, and our schools are more bogged down in federal mandates and red tape than ever before.
Teachers, parents, principals and superintendents that I’ve talked to all agree: one size does not fit all when it comes to education. They are frustrated with endless regulations and directives from Washington.
Since coming to Congress, I’ve worked to replace “No Child Left Behind” with policies that return decision-making back to states and local communities where it should be. I’m pleased to report that this week the House acted to do just that by passing H.R. 5, the “Student Success Act.” This bill eliminates more than 65 ineffective, duplicative and unnecessary programs, replacing them with flexible grants that state and local districts can use to benefit students the best way they see fit.
I’m further pleased to report that the bill includes language I proposed and have championed expressly prohibiting the federal government from using funding grants and policy waivers to coerce states into adopting certain standards and curricula.
In addition to getting the federal government out of the standards and curricula business, this bill includes many other positive provisions supporting parents, locals and states:
- Eliminating the “Adequate Yearly Progress,” or “AYP” metric and returning the responsibility for proficiency systems to the states where they belong;
- Repealing the federal “Highly Qualified Teachers” requirements, or “HQT,” which will enable state and local-driven efforts to customize teaching evaluations;
- Enhancing student mobility and school choice by repealing Title I restrictions and allowing money to “follow the student” to the school of the parent’s choice, whether that’s a traditional public school or a public charter school;
- Supporting the start-up, replication and expansion of high-quality public charter schools, which Alabama can now access to support its recently-enacted charter school program;
Of course this isn’t a perfect bill – I’ve yet to read one that is. But, the Student Success Act finally replaces top-down Washington mandates with conservative reforms that reduce the federal footprint in education, restore local control and empower parents, teacher and community leaders to improve their schools.
Martha Roby represents Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. She is currently serving her third term.