Saturday, January 02, 2016
Billy Long: I support empowering our educators
For several decades now, the federal government has poured more resources into education in good faith efforts to improve academic performance of our nation’s youth. While it is great to prioritize American student achievement to enhance America’s competitive edge, I believe we are approaching the issue in a backward fashion. What is best for our schools should not be decided from the top-down, but rather the bottom-up.
Earlier this Congress, I voted for the Student Success Act, which would allow local schools more control and decision-making power in determining what is best for its students. Among the provisions of the bill, states would have the ability to set their own education standards. It would forbid the federal Department of Education from forcing one-size-fits-all standards and testing requirements and end the “Adequate Yearly Progress” program, which the Department of Education has used to influence every public school curriculum in the country. This legislation also means that states and local school districts could level their own procedures to student and teacher performance and publish their progress for parental review, giving parents greater control over their child’s education.
Furthermore, this legislation consolidates more than 65 grant programs into a new “Local Academic Flexible Grant” program with funds to be divvied among the states for local school districts and education programs, allowing more flexibility in how funds can be used to truly better student accomplishment. This would take a more local, efficient approach to education programs. Additionally, the Student Success Act would prevent any nationally-set mandate or benchmark from being attached to grant opportunities.
Ultimately, the Student Success Act places more control of academic achievement in the hands of states and local schools and out of the federal government’s hands. It is an excellent move to increase the quality of our children’s education to tailor each program’s need to students at each school. After all, what works in Springfield or Forsyth, for example, does not work for Chicago or Los Angeles. I support empowering our educators and parents who know best how to give children the proper tools they need to succeed, not Washington. The House has taken a strong step in achieving that goal, and I will continue fighting to improve American education standards.