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Fighting overreach in classrooms

Legislative update

POSTED: July 25, 2013 10:30 p.m.

America’s education system is failing our children. Over 20 percent of America’s public high school students do not graduate in four years. Students’ test scores in math and science have declined to 25th worldwide.
Students no longer compete with their peers in the next town over. They compete with students from around the world. By letting them slip behind the global standard, American students are losing their competitive edge and are ill equipped for the jobs of tomorrow.
This means American businesses face trouble recruiting the talent they need to continue innovating and expanding their business. It also means that the next Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg and the resulting Microsoft, Apple or Facebook could be created elsewhere.
The law governing federal education policy has been due for reauthorization since 2007. Rather than work for an overhaul and much-needed reforms, the Obama Administration has embarked on an effort to increase federal government control and one-size-fits-all education standards like Common Core.
This week, the House advanced legislation that would turn back the Obama Administration’s overreach in our classrooms and empower those who know students best — parents, teachers and local school systems — to fix our education system. It replaces bureaucratic red tape and mandates with freedom to direct resources to the programs best fitted for individual students.
The Student Success Act would replace federal metrics that hamper innovation with state-determined accountability systems and put responsibility back on state and local school systems to create improvement strategies for failing schools.
It encourages school districts to measure a teacher’s effectiveness by their impact on student learning and on feedback from all stakeholders rather than a teacher’s credentials or tenure.
Our plan maintains the requirement that states and school districts issue annual report cards so parents and community members are equipped with information regarding school achievement and high school graduation rates. It also encourages school choice by supporting opportunities for parents to enroll their children in local magnet or charter schools.
To restore a more appropriate federal role in education, the Student Success Act eliminates more than 70 existing elementary and secondary education programs. It also consolidates a myriad of K-12 education initiatives into a grant program providing funding directly to states and school districts to support local priorities that improve student achievement.
Finally, the Student Success Act protects state and local autonomy over decisions in the classroom by stripping the Secretary of Education with the ability to inappropriately influence states to adopt Common Core or similar standards or assessments.
For many of us, education is the foundation from which we strive to achieve the American Dream. The laying of that foundation is far too important to leave in the hands of bureaucrats or special interest groups looking to advance their own agendas on the backs of our students.
Centralized planning and one size fits all standards and mandates like Common Core have allowed too many students to fall through the cracks. That’s why the Student Success Act gives parents, teachers, and local school systems the flexibility to meet the educational needs of each child they serve.

Kingston, R-Ga., serves the states 1st Congressional District, which includes Liberty and Long counties.

 

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