US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

Alexander Offers Plan that Rejects “National School Board,” Restores “Freedom, Flexibility and Choice to States, Local School Districts, Teachers, and Parents”

At committee markup of 1,150-page Democratic proposal, offers 220-page alternative, the “Every Child Ready for College or Career Act”

Tuesday, June 11, 2013Liz Wolgemuth 202-228-4729

Washington, D.C., June 11 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today offered a proposal to fix No Child Left Behind, saying, “what we’re trying to do is free the states to help children in 100,000 schools meet their needs in individual ways…the real difference is whether we think the responsibility is here in Washington or at home—we believe it’s at home.”

Alexander, Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, offered the proposal as an alternative at a committee markup today of a Democratic proposal to reauthorize the law.

Alexander said: “Over the last decade, the U.S. Department of Education has become so congested with federal mandates that it has become, in effect, a national school board. This congestion of mandates is caused by three things: No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and the administration’s use of waivers…. Senate Democrats have offered a 1,150-page plan that would not only freeze these mandates in place, but double down, creating more than 25 new programs as well as more than 150 new reporting requirements for which states and local school districts must secure approval from the Secretary of Education.”

He continued: “Republicans propose to move in a different direction. We offer a 220-page plan to help children in public schools learn what they need to know and be able to do by restoring responsibility to states and communities, and giving teachers and parents freedom, flexibility, and choice.”

Alexander said: “This creates a national environment in which parents, classroom teachers, states and legislators, have a better opportunity to succeed but doesn’t tell them how to do it.”

“Our plan emphasizes state and local decision-making. It puts Washington out of the business of deciding whether local schools are succeeding or failing—freeing all schools from meeting the ‘Adequate Yearly Progress’ mandate. It rejects the federal mandates that create a national school board, prohibiting the Education Secretary from prescribing standards or accountability systems for states. It continues the requirement that states have high standards and quality tests, but doesn’t prescribe those standards.

“Our proposal makes it easier for states to offer low-income parents more choice in finding the right public school for their child. It gives teachers and principals more freedom by encouraging the expansion and replication of successful charter schools.  It encourages states to create teacher and principal evaluation programs, free of federal mandates. It offers states more flexibility in spending federal education dollars, while cutting waste by consolidating 62 federal programs into two block grants.

“This is not a proposal just for Republicans.  We believe this proposal represents the views and will attract the support of the governors leading the charge for education reform, teachers who value the freedom to teach, parents who want more choices for their children, and state legislators who are working for better schools. 

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