Making an A-PLUS Case

As the battle for school choice continues in State Houses across the country, momentum is building to reduce the burden of the federal education bureaucracy. Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT) introduced the Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success (A-PLUS) Act (H.R. 2514/S. 827) last summer in order to shift educational accountability away from the federal government and toward groups with the most at stake: parents and taxpayers.

A-PLUS would allow states to completely opt out of the onerous provisions of No Child Left Behind (NCLB)—the now infamous government expansion of federal control of the education sector—and would allow state leaders to direct education dollars and decision-making in a way that would best meet the needs of local students.

One of the many flaws with NCLB is the significant compliance burden placed on states and school districts. The cost to states to demonstrate compliance with NCLB is around $141 million a year, consuming over 6 million hours of work from staff and administrators. Schools spend an incredible amount of time ensuring that they meet the federal government’s requirements—time that certainly would be better spent in the classroom or working with teachers.

On Wednesday at The Heritage Foundation, Rep. Bishop made the case for moving away from the centralized planning and perverse incentives embedded within NCLB and opting for greater state-based reforms and solutions. This common sense solution comes at a critical time. With the Obama Administration’s flawed Race to the Top program (part of the 2009 “stimulus”), significant new spending increases for the Department of Education, and more proposals to centralize educational control inWashington, proposals to restore state educational control are refreshing and long overdue.

A-PLUS is a solid step in the right direction that conservatives in Congress should rally behind. If we truly believe in the power of liberty to improve our lives, then it’s long past time to return power back to the states and localities when it comes to education.

Currently, A-PLUS has 92 co-sponsors in the House. This important piece of legislation needs to maintain its momentum if we are to make any progress in freeing ourselves from the federal government’s overreach and unshackling ourselves from a stagnant bureaucracy that has done little-to-nothing to improve our education system.

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