Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) introduced a bill Friday that would block federal intrusion on the rights of states to make education decisions. The measure purports to block the Obama Administration from coercing states to adopt the federally funded Common Core standards.
According to a press release on Roberts’ website, the Senator plans to “include this legislation in the [Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions’] consideration of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), introduced by committee chair Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN).
Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and Rob Portman (R-OH) joined Roberts in introducing the measure, titled the Learning Opportunities Created At the Local Level Act (LOCAL). The bill, according to the press release, “would strictly 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.”
“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,” Senator 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.”
Unfortunately, it is evident that certain waivers from onerous education requirements have been granted only to those states that agree to implement the White House’s preferred education policies. In fact, The New York Times has referred to the waiver process as “the most sweeping use of executive authority to rewrite federal education law since Washington expanded its involvement in education in the 1960s.” My bill ensures States retain their authority to determine the curriculum and standards that are best for their students.
“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.”
“As I have before, I plan to urge the Appropriations Committee to include language blocking funding for the Administration’s overreach in this area,” Grassley added. “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.
“Decisions about education curriculum should be made at the local or state level – not from Washington,” said Portman. “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 Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is supporting the legislation.
“We are proud to support Senator Roberts’ Learning Opportunities Created at Local Level Act,” said Mike Smith, president of HSLDA. “This legislation will significantly reduce the federal government’s ability to dictate education decisions to states, will prohibit the federal government from forcing states to adopt the Common Core, and will begin to return educational decisions to local and state control.”