Can Congress Making NCLB A Thing of the Past?

The House just passed the Student Success Act (SSA), sponsored by Reps. John Kline (R-MN) and Todd Rokita (R-IN) to rewrite the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law?

The Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke explains NCLB has a number of egregious flaws, some of which could be fixed with the SSA.  The proposal would eliminate Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), which requires all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014, but is problematic because “this federal mandate resulted in states watering down proficiency standards to make students appear to have reached the mandated goal.  In addition, SSA would eliminate the Highly qualified Teacher (HQT) mandate, which set burdensome and ineffective requirements for hiring teachers, a function that should be left to the discretion of the states.   Finally the SSA would also remove maintenance-of-effort regulations that require states to spend money in order to secure federal funding.

Burke adds that though these are improvements, the SSA suffered from two major policy limitations.  She states:

that while it wisely eliminated the burdensome HQT provision, it replaced it with prescriptive language about how local school districts were to evaluate teachers. It also missed an opportunity to allow states to make Title I funding—funding for low-income school districts—portable, following a child to any public, charter, or private school of choice.

These policy limitations were addressed in part by two amendments to the bill, one offered by Reps. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Rob Bishop (R-UT), which fixed removed prescriptive teacher evaluation language, and one offered by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), which would allow states to make their Title I dollars portable to any public or charter school of choice.

We supported the Scalise-Bishop amendment (key vote).

Is this all good news?  Yes, but it could be better.  Burke explains:

Ultimately, however, conservatives should push to dramatically limit federal intervention in education—not by “fixing” NCLB but by allowing states to completely opt out and spend dollars on their most pressing education needs. The A-PLUS proposal would allow such flexibility, and it remains the bright line in the sand for conservative policymakers interested in restoring state and local control of education.


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