Roe in the Washington Examiner: Restoring Local Control to K-12 Education

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Washington, December 2, 2015 | Tiffany Haverly (202-226-8072) | comments

Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN): Restoring Local Control to K-12 Education

Since I was sworn in to Congress in 2009, I've proudly served on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. A former mayor, I am keenly aware of the importance of our educators and school administrators. They shape the future of our communities, and their work greatly affects the economy, which is why I've made it a point to regularly visit schools around Tennessee's first congressional district.

Everywhere I go in the district, I hear from teachers, parents, administrators and students who all tell me that we need to return control of our education system to the local level. Many are frustrated by No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and worry about the Department of Education's attempts to control education policy by conditional waivers, leaving states and school districts with uncertainty and little control over their schools. I think we can all agree that NCLB was well-intentioned, but it has failed our students and made things more difficult for our educators.

I was honored to be asked to serve as a conferee for the House and Senate conference committee tasked with ironing out the differences in separate bills passed by the House and Senate this summer to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). I was glad to see strong bipartisan support behind the framework agreed to by leaders of the House and Senate Education Committees, and we have released the legislative text of the conference report.

One of my highest priorities in these discussions was bringing peace of mind to the parents and teachers I've heard from about the adoption of the Common Core State Standards Initiative. While these standards were developed in a process that began as a state-led initiative, in recent years concern has increased as the Department of Education has required states to adopt these standards as a condition for receiving federal grants or relief from the punitive mandates of No Child Left Behind.

The House bill took away the department's ability to require Common Core as a condition of federal grants, which ensures the decision on whether or not to adopt Common Core will truly be left up to the states — as it should be — and I am proud that important language was included in the final bill, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act. The bill also protects local control by prohibiting the secretary of education from adding any new requirements on states and schools not required in law.

By preserving local control and protecting state decision-making power on Common Core, we're making things easier for school districts to do what works best for them. As I've said before, just as a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work for healthcare reform, it does not work for education. Each state, school district and student are different, and local administrators, teachers and parents — not the federal government — should make decisions based on what's best for their students.

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Tags: Education