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  • Educators Tell House Committee to Give Schools More Flexibility

    One-size-fits-all usually ends up meaning “one-size-fits-few.” And there is no exception when it comes to education.

    That was the message sent during a hearing held last week by the House Education and Workforce Committee: The federal government needs to step back and give states and schools more flexibility.

    During last Thursday’s hearing, “Education Reforms: Promoting Flexibility and Innovation,” witnesses testified of the importance of allowing schools to set their own course instead of being forced to comply with rigid demands set forth by Washington.

    As Janet Barresi, Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction, testified:

    The U.S. Department of Education has issued guidelines that on the surface seem to offer states more flexibility to meet local needs. But there seems to be a disconnect between good intentions at the top level and what actually occurs in practice.

    Gary Amoroso, superintendent of Lakeville Public Schools in Minnesota, pleaded with the committee to seek ways to provide school districts with more flexibility of federal funding:

    Reauthorization [of No Child Left Behind] should … allow districts to focus on student-centered needs and to make allocation decisions free of mandatory set-asides. This, in effect, offers local control to educators to make decisions, which truly allow all students to succeed.

    Terry Grier, superintendent of Houston Public Schools, described even more starkly how federal intervention has hampered his community’s work to improve education at the local level:

    Our work … is impeded by various state and federal barriers that compromise our efforts and impact our most vulnerable children. …

    Designing and implementing instructional activities under federal programs is complicated by a myriad of requirements and statutory set-asides, as well as reservations of funds for particular activities. [Elementary and Secondary Education Act] Title I provides the most striking example with the No Child Left Behind [NCLB] statutory set-asides totaling some 56% of the funds depending on how you add them up. … With such a large proportion of statutorily-directed spending since 2001, instructional decision-making at the district and school level for Title I has been exceptionally challenging. …

    There are certainly many of the 588 requirements in just Title I Part A, identified by the Department of Education’s Inspector General in a March 2006 report, [that] could be deleted without damaging the purposes and benefits of the program.

    As discussion over NCLB reauthorization heats up, it is critical that instead of mandating more costly and time-consuming federal approaches that divert schools’ attention from those they are trying to serve—the students—policymakers give states greater flexibility in how they spend federal education dollars.

    As an alternative to the prescriptive mandates of NCLB, conservative approaches such as A-PLUS, which would allow states to opt out of many of the programs under NCLB, would give states the ability to use education funds in the manner they—not government bureaucrats—see fit. Senators Jim DeMint (R–SC) and John Cornyn (R–TX) have indicated that they will reintroduce the legislation, which they also sponsored in the last Congress, this week.

    As Chairman John Kline (R–MN), noted during last week’s committee hearing:

    If we are going to move forward in education, Washington has to move in a new direction. States and schools should be able to set their own innovative priorities and receive maximum flexibility to advance those priorities.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to Educators Tell House Committee to Give Schools More Flexibility

    1. Bobbie says:

      Feds have proven to be the drag on our children's education, personal achievements and potential. The problem is tremendous but the correction is easy. Put the feds in their place and remove them from their unconstitutional infiltrate of education.

    2. Tours Martel, Castro says:

      Having been a teacher in both public and private schools I have learned that the student and their family are the two most important variables in education. Nothing that the state or federal governments can do in education will change the outcomes if the student and family are not behind the program. Since the early Sixties the American student and family have changed from being American born and English speaking to foreign born and non-native speakers of English. In addition the American family has gone from being two married parents to family fragments. The resulting chaos has been reflected in declining educational scores and outcomes. Put very simply: fix the family, and the educational system will fix itself. Federal intervention is unnecessary and counterproductive.

    3. R Holland, Chandler, says:

      Get the federal government out of the education business. After 40+ years the federal government has failed to educate our children. Eliminate the Dept. of Education and stop federal funding of student loans. Return control of education to the states and local boards.

    4. Diana Brown, Illinoi says:

      The federal government should not be in the education area at all and the Constitution of the United States says so. This government does not abide by the rule of law and they have overstepped their bounds so much that how can we the people pull them back. Education should be given over totally to the states and local government agencies. We The People need to put our government in its place by electing a strong fiscal conservation person to be our next president. We cannot take another season of Obama because his policies of overreach are destroying this country. Come On Tea Party!!!!

    5. Leon Lundquist, Dura says:

      Easy As Pie! Abolish the Department Of Education, Block Grant all the money to the States! I hope you know the DOE never was about Education, like for children's benefit! No dears! It was always for Socialization of American Children! Progressives wrote the Curriculum following the Junk Science "Post Industral Economy" which does't exist, never has existed, and can't be replaced with an "Information Economy" either. An America that is eating itself, like the European Model, demands lots of trained Socialists, so 'higher' education is pointed to produce good Totalitarian Bureaucrats!

      Sure enough, Progressives have aborted more Inner City children than they ever educated. Bonus! For the Kloward Piven gang, less youngsters means the System collapses sooner! Ouch! Ouch! I know. I am sorry. But you can't tell the truth because it is Hate Speech!

    6. AD says:

      The best way to free schools from crippling Federal Mandates, is to stop the Federal financing of local schools, and their curicula.

    7. Peter Hoogerzeil says:

      I am a teacher in Massachusetts and the state was awarded the bogus Race to the Top (RTTT) funding. To my excitement, our union refused to sign on noting that after four years it will become an unfunded mandate. We need to refuse federal dollars at the local level whenever we can, because there will always be a string attached to the money. I thank the Heritage Foundation for the research on educational issues, and my union leadeship has appreciated and agreed with much of what I have presented them. Keep up the great work!

    8. Beacon01 says:

      Creeping Federalism has done far more harm than good. Now we would have to untangle the tons of regulations put into education by the feds and the teachers unions in order to get local control of our schools back. And that is the first step toward the betterment of education for the students, and a better value for the community.

    9. Wes in cincy says:

      It's all about control people, it's all about control.

      The feds cause most of the problems and then they

      want us to believe that only the feds can fix the problems.

      The Wisdom in Washington is sadly "wanting".

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