Senate Overturns Obama-era Education Regulation that Undermined Local Control of Schools

Sends to president’s desk resolution affirming that Congress writes the laws—not the Department of Education

WASHINGTON, March 9 — The Senate today voted for local school boards over a National School Board and affirmed that Congress writes the law, not the Department of Education. The Senate sent to President Trump’s desk a resolution to rescind the department’s final regulation for implementing the accountability provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

The resolution that now heads to the president’s desk was led by Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and nine Republican senators.

Senator Alexander (R-Tenn.) said: “The issue before us was whether the United States Congress writes the laws or whether the Department of Education writes the laws. Under Article I of our Constitution, the United States Congress writes the law, and in at least seven cases this Education Department regulation directly violated the Every Student Succeeds Act law passed just 15 months ago. And in at least 16 other cases, the regulation did something that the Congress did not authorize it to do.”

He continued, “And this resolution is also on a subject that’s very important to this Congress – whether there should be a national school board or a local school board. That decision was made in 2015 when 85 senators voted for the bill to fix No Child Left Behind that the Wall Street Journal said was ‘the largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter-century.’ Congress reversed the trend toward a national school board and restored control of classrooms to states, teachers, and parents. So, today’s vote is a victory for everyone who was fed up with Washington telling them so much about what to do about their children in 100,000 public schools, and I look forward to President Trump’s signature of this resolution.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said: “As a co-sponsor of this measure, I am proud the Senate voted to end an Obama-era regulation that was simply unacceptable for America’s students and educators. States are supposed to be the leaders on core curriculum and decisions on how to best meet the needs of their students — not Washington bureaucrats. The repeal of this regulation will help restore that process. Thanks to the Congressional Review Act, we capitalized on the opportunity to move past this overreaching regulation to ensure the ideals of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) are upheld, and I commend Senator Alexander for his leadership on this issue.”

Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said: “I’m glad to see Congress push back against this federal overreach. Now states and local communities can decide how best to educate their children.”

Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) said: “Last Congress, members from both sides of the aisle came together to pass a new education law that overhauled No Child Left Behind and brought control of our children’s education back where it belonged, with states and parents. But this regulation from the Department of Education flies in the face of those changes, clearly violating the law. I am glad that Congress took action to stop this regulation in its tracks, because it is states, not the federal government, that should be in charge of school accountability.”

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.):  “A major highlight of the bipartisan ESSA bill returned power over education decisions back to where it belongs – schools, teachers and parents. The Obama administration’s accountability regulation undermined this important law by enabling federal bureaucrats to once again tie the hands of states with mandated education policies. I’m glad the Senate acted today to eliminate this burdensome regulation, uphold the intent of the law, and ensure that states and parents in Arizona and around the country have the final say on what is best for their children’s’ future.”

Senator David Perdue (R-Ga.): “In the past year, we have made significant progress in reducing Washington’s control of our schools and this regulation undermines this effort. One-size-fits-all education standards have failed our students and what we are seeing here is a bureaucratic attempt to retain control over accountability standards. We are acting immediately to stop this regulation and ensure accountability standards remain under the purview of states and not with the federal government.”  

Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said: "I have made it clear that our children receive the best possible education when decisions are made at the local and state level. ESSA was written to restore responsibility to states for their local schools by providing increased flexibility to design and implement their education programs. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration blatantly ignored both the spirit and intent of ESSA when drafting the accountability regulation. I’m pleased the Senate has passed this resolution to ensure that these key education decisions are made by states instead of the federal government.”

Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.): “By cutting this red tape, we would remove Washington bureaucrats from the classroom and empower states, local education agencies, teachers, and parents to make the best decisions for students, both in Mississippi and across the country. I applaud my colleagues who join me in working to reverse this regulation.”

Original cosponsors of the Congressional Review Act resolution led by Chairman Alexander (R-Tenn.) and passed by the Senate today are Majority Leader McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senators Cassidy (R-La.), Cornyn (R-Texas), Cotton (R-Ark.), Enzi (R-Wyo.), McCain (R-Ariz.), Perdue (R-Ga.), Roberts (R-Kan.), and Wicker (R-Miss.).


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