U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) introduced a bill, the Learning Opportunities Created At the Local (LOCAL) Level Act, on Friday last week that would forbid the federal government from intervening in a state’s education standards, curricula, and assessments through the use of incentives, mandates, grants, waivers or any other form of manipulation.
Roberts was joined in introducing the bill by U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio). Roberts, a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will fight to include this legislation in the committee’s consideration of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
“Setting high standards for our schools, our teachers and our children is the right thing to do, but those standards should be decided in Kansas, without bribes or mandates from Washington,” Roberts said. “We need to get the federal government out of the classroom, and return community decisions back to where they belong – in the community.”
“Decisions about what content students should be taught have enormous consequences for children and so should be made as close as possible to the affected parents and students,” Grassley said. “Federal interference in this area disrupts the direct line of accountability between parents and those making decisions about their children’s education. It also takes away needed flexibility from state education leaders to make changes as they learn more about what works and what does not. As I have before, I plan to urge the Appropriations Committee to include language blocking funding for the Administration’s overreach in this area. In the meantime, I’ll continue to work with Senator Roberts to ensure that the law is amended to stop such overreach permanently.”
“The best education is the one that is shaped by parents and local leaders who know first-hand the children and communities their standards and goals impact,” Inhofe said. “This legislation reins in big government regulations being issued by the Department of Education and returns education decisions back to the parents, teachers, and local leaders who are on the front lines of advancing our children’s future. With more than 660,000 children enrolled in public schools across Oklahoma, it is pivotal we ensure that state and local school boards continue to have the authority needed to carry out education policy decisions.”
“Decisions about education curriculum should be made at the local or state level – not from Washington,” Portman stated. “Having a one-size-fits-all Washington approach to education is harmful to our children and to our education system. We should allow states and local communities the flexibility to innovate and make their own education decisions. The federal government does have a key supporting role to play in improving our workforce, and I have led efforts to streamline and improve our worker retraining programs while giving states additional flexibility.”
Roberts’ efforts to permanently prohibit the Administration’s interference with state education decisions through authorization language have been complemented by Senator Grassley’s efforts to address the problem through the appropriations process.