To honor National School Choice Week, Louisiana U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R) announced Monday that he has introduced the Local Control of Education Act, a measure that would ban the federal government from mandating the adoption of specific standards—such as the Common Core standards—as well as curriculum and assessments.
The proposed legislation would permit states that have rejected these standards to still qualify for federal grants and waivers.
States were incentivized to adopt common standards through a competitive grant program—Race to the Top—in President Obama’s stimulus bill in 2009. Additionally, states that adopted the uniform standards could be eligible for a waiver from the onerous restrictions of the federal No Child Left Behind law.
“When it comes down to it, I trust folks in Louisiana to make decisions regarding their children’s education far more than I trust bureaucrats in Washington,” said Vitter in a press release. “Parents, along with local teachers, principals, and education leaders in our communities, know best on how to spend our education tax dollars. We should reduce the size and scope of the federal government in our classrooms and return curriculum decision-making and use of taxpayer dollars to those closest to the students.”
In addition to the Local Control of Education Act, Vitter has also introduced bills that would expand school choice opportunities for low-income children and allow taxpayers who homeschool their children to be eligible for tax deductions for instructional expenses.
Breitbart News asked Vitter about the problem of regulatory intrusions upon private schools that agree to participate in school choice programs. Some states have required private schools that wish to accept vouchers to submit to state standards—which may be the Common Core standards or a rebrand of them—or state assessments.
“The federal government incentives and requirements to adopt Common Core are what started this entire problem,” Vitter said in a statement to Breitbart News. “We need to completely scrap Common Core on a state level and replace it with Louisiana-based curricula.”
In an email statement sent to Breitbart News, Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week (NSCW), said his organization is not involved in Common Core issues per se, but it seeks to focus entirely on the issue of school choice.
“My personal view is that school choice, in all of its forms, is the most vital reform for education to provide children with access to the best possible schools and to raise achievement,” Campanella continued. “I think that robust school choice can be a catalyst for improving all types of schools, and advancing school choice is what we need to be focusing on.”
“NSCW would not get into the details or have an official position on a specific policy issue such as the private schools and standards,” he said. “My personal view is that private schools should be able to set their own standards and curriculum — period.”
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) has introduced a companion bill to Vitter’s in the U.S. House.
“The quality of our children’s education is too high a priority to rely on a one-size-fits-all approach,” Wilson said. “What works in New York or California may not work in Louisiana or South Carolina, and the federal government’s overreach into our schools is unprecedented.”
“I am grateful for the opportunity to work with Senator Vitter on efforts to return control over education to the states,” Wilson continued. “Elected school board members and administrators, working together with teachers and parents, are best suited to manage our states’ education systems. I have full faith and confidence in them – not Washington bureaucrats – to create college and career ready standards that work best for our students.”
Vitter changed his position on the issue of the Common Core standards at the end of last year after his conservative supporters were stunned by his strong public support of the controversial education initiative.
Anti-Common Core activist in Louisiana, Dr. Anna Arthurs, told Breitbart News she supports Vitter’s Local Control of Education Act.
“This act would prohibit the federal government from preventing states who choose to not adopt the Common Core State Standards from qualifying for certain federal grants and waivers,” Arthurs said. “One of the main reasons citizens have been against the Common Core initiative is because of the attempt to limit the control of academic standards, assessments and curriculum at the state level. This act would help to protect the rights of the states and restrict the unlawful overreach of the federal government.”