Foxx Editorial: It’s Time to Reduce the Federal Footprint in America’s Classrooms

Published Monday, May 4, 2015 at 11:07 am

By U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx

The current K-12 education system is failing our students. Just 36 percent of eighth grade students read at grade level and only 35 percent are proficient in math.

Unfortunately, state and local attempts to improve student achievement have been hampered by an enormous federal footprint. Parents and education leaders have lost much of their decision-making authority to Washington bureaucrats, and the Secretary of Education has bullied states into adopting the Obama administration’s pet projects.

U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx

U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx

As a grandmother, educator and former school board member, I know students are best served when North Carolina teachers, parents and administrators are the driving force behind improving education.

Fortunately, the House of Representatives has an opportunity to chart a new course with the Student Success Act, legislation that reduces the federal footprint in the nation’s classrooms and restores control to the people who know their students best.

The Student Success Act gets Washington out of the business of running schools. It protects state and local autonomy by prohibiting the Secretary of Education from coercing states into adopting Common Core or any other common standards or assessments and by preventing the secretary from creating additional burdens on states and school districts.

The bill reduces the size of the federal education bureaucracy. Currently, the Department of Education oversees more than 80 programs geared towards primary and secondary education, most of which are duplicative and fail to deliver adequate results for students. The bill eliminates over 65 of these programs and requires the Secretary of Education to reduce the department’s workforce accordingly.

The Student Success Act repeals onerous, one-size-fits-all mandates that dictate accountability, teacher quality and local spending that have done more to tie up states and school districts in red tape than to support education efforts. It returns responsibility for classroom decisions to parents, teachers, administrators and education officials.

Education is a deeply personal issue, and I understand that people are concerned about what a new law K-12 education law will do. That is why a number of key principles have guided our efforts to replace the law since we began the process more than four years ago: reducing the federal footprint, restoring local control and empowering parents and education leaders.

Those principles are reflected throughout the legislation, including specific safeguards that protect the right of states to opt-out of the law as well as the autonomy of home schools, religious schools and private schools.

Without passage of the Student Success Act, states will be forced to choose between the fundamentally flawed policies of No Child Left Behind, which doubled down on federal programs, mandates and spending, and the Obama administration’s controversial temporary, conditional waiver scheme, which has imposed the administration’s preferred policies and heightened the level of uncertainty shared by states and school districts. America’s students deserve better.

By reversing Washington’s one-size-fits-all micromanagement of classrooms, the Student Success Act offers conservative solutions to repair a broken education system. It’s time to get Washington out of the way and allow parents, teachers and local education leaders the flexibility to provide every child in every school with a high quality education.

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