Elementary and Secondary Education Act Reauthorization a Chance for Reform

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act is a piece of legislation Congress reauthorizes every five years that sets education policy for our country, outlining priorities and initiating reforms when needed. The current piece of legislation, also known as No Child Left Behind, has been due for reauthorization since 2007. There is increasing agreement on both sides of the aisle that this law is outdated and no longer serves the needs of public schoolteachers and students nationwide. The House is set to consider its proposal to reform this legislation, the Student Success Act, sometime this month.

Although well-intentioned, No Child Left Behind has proven that a top-down approach to education does not best serve the needs of our children. With mandates such as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and the Highly Qualified Teacher program, the law values one-size-fits-all metrics analysis over good teaching. Education decisions should be made at the local level between teachers and parents, rather than politicians and unelected bureaucrats. Even with significant investments of taxpayer resources into this law, student achievement levels have largely fallen short of projected goals.

Conservatives believe we can make smarter reforms to our nation’s public education system that will have a positive effect on achievement. No Child Left Behind proves that federal overreach into the classroom simply does not work. Our aim is to grant needed flexibility to the state and local level, giving the authority to make decisions more closely tailored to individual students’ needs. We should end antiquated or misguided programs such as AYP or Highly Qualified Teacher, replacing them with guidance to state and local authorities to come up with their own innovative plans for evaluation that encourage a focus on student learning, not test scores.

I am glad the House will take this opportunity to initiate much-needed reforms to our nation’s education system. America must be a leader in education if we want to continue our nation’s prosperity into the future. One of the most important aspects in a child’s development is access to top quality education, and my highest priority on this issue is to ensure every child has that kind of access. As the fields of science and mathematics continue to produce cutting-edge technology with applications in every corner of our economy, we must place an emphasis on continuing this training for future generations. I look forward to supporting legislation that will accomplish this goal.

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