Congressman Scott Garrett (R-NJ) filed the right type of bill instead of the behemoth ESEA/NCLB authorization bill H.R. 121, the Local Education Authority Returns Now Act, gives states the ability to opt out of federal education grants.
Here is the summary of the bill:
This bill requires the Secretary of the Treasury to make an annual determination of states that have chosen to opt-out of K-12 education grant programs and the Secretary of Education to determine credits due to states as opt-out state education amounts.
The bill also amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow individual taxpayers in states that opt-out a refundable tax credit for a share of the opt-out amount creditable to such states.
Here is the summary of this bill:
This legislation will restore local control of education by prohibiting the federal government from mandating that states adopt a specific curriculum or set of academic standards, such as Common Core. It will also prohibit the federal government from using grants or waivers to mandate or incentivize states into adopting Common Core, thus ensuring that local control is left to the states. For states that already adopted Common Core, it would ensure that any previous requirements for waivers would be void and the Secretary of Education would be prohibited from requiring states to agree to any new conditions in order to keep their existing waiver.
This legislation helps to counteract the unprecedented federal overreach of the last several years into instructional content, academic standards, and assessments.
I’ve written about the LOCAL Level Act in the U.S. Senate sponsored by U.S. Senator Pat Roberts before. It now has a bill number – S.182. It currently has four co-sponsors in the Senate: U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Rob Portman (R-OH) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).
The primary problem with this bill is not the intent behind it, but that it amends ESEA. We want to sunset ESEA/NCLB. Call this bill plan B so to speak. If it could be written in a way that it stands alone I’d be more excited about it.
Here is the summary of that bill:
Learning Opportunities Created At Local Level Act or the LOCAL Level Act
Expresses the sense of Congress that state and local prerogatives over elementary and secondary education need to be preserved.
Amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) to prohibit any federal officer or employee from directly or indirectly, through grants, contracts, or other cooperative agreements under the ESEA:
- mandating, directing, or controlling a state’s local educational agency’s (LEA’s) or school’s specific instructional content, academic standards, assessments, curriculum, or program of instruction;
- incentivizing such an entity’s adoption of any specific instructional content, academic standards, assessments, curriculum, or program of instruction;
- mandating a state or any subdivision thereof to spend any funds or incur any costs not paid for under the ESEA; or
- conditioning the availability of financial support on a state’s LEA’s, or school’s adoption of any specific instructional content, academic standards, assessments, curriculum, or program of instruction, even if such conditions are specified under any other Act.
Prohibits any funds provided to the Department of Education under the ESEA from being used by the Department directly or indirectly, through grants, contracts, or other cooperative agreements, to endorse, approve, develop, require, or sanction any elementary or secondary school curriculum.
Prohibits conditioning any state’s receipt of ESEA assistance on the approval or certification of its academic standards by the federal government.
Includes in the prohibition against the use of ESEA funds on federally sponsored testing and testing materials such use on any assessment or testing materials aligned to the Common Core State Standards or any other academic standards common to a significant number of states. Prohibits the use of Race to the Top funds, provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, on such aligned assessment or testing materials.
While we call on Congressman John Kline (R-MN) and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to sunset ESEA/NCLB we should also let them know the types of bills we are for.