Sunday, March 1, 2015

Understanding the Student Success Act

by Rep Rick Crawford (AR-1): A quality, free education is the backbone for any successful democracy. To make the complex decisions involved in choosing elected officials and governing, citizens must be knowledgable, informed, and equipped with the tools required to make those decisions. In that same spirit, Congress made public education in the United States widely available by the late 1800s. Since that time, Congress has reformed the public education system many times in an attempt to increase the quality of and access to education. However, our education system still suffers from many problems, and those problems demand frequent attention and reform that reflect the challenges of our time. In 2002, President George W. Bush signed into law The No Child Left Behind Act, a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Thirteen years later, after experiencing the ups and downs of No Child Left Behind, it was time to address some of the program's serious problems. Currently, one out of every five students drop out of high school. 26% of our high school seniors are proficient in math, and only 38% are proficient in reading. The Department of Education operates more than 80 different programs concerning our elementary and secondary schools, and each program has a different set of rules and obstacles. Changes in education policy are enacted through waivers and short-lived programs penned by the Secretary of Education. "Highly Qualified Teacher" standards, while well intentioned, are too shallow to truly determine a teacher's effectiveness.

On February 5th, Representative John Kline (MN) re-introduced H.R. 5, The Student Success Act. This reform attempts to correct many of the previous reauthorization's shortcomings. H.R. 5 consolidates more than 65 of the original programs that were either duplicative or ineffective into a single program, the Local Academic Flexible Grant. The grant takes red tape and the federal government out of classrooms and gives teachers the autonomy required to address the unique needs of their individual students. Responsibility for measuring student performance is returned to states and school districts which better understand how to assess their students. The act also prevents the Secretary of Education from aggressively pushing states to adopt common standards or assessments they don't wont, including Common Core.

However, the Student Success Act doesn't simply leave states and districts to their own devices. The education reform also provides oversight in the form that perhaps matters most: parents. The student's parents, along with education leaders, are provided access to all the information they need to keep schools responsible. Expansion of charter schools also provides parents with more choices for their children's education. At the end of the day though, student improvement is paramount, and that's why the bill gives states the option of allowing federal funds to follow low-income children to the public school of their parent's choice. It also strengthens existing efforts to improve targeted student performance, including homeless children and English learners.

In essence, the Student Success Act trusts parents, teachers, school districts, and states to make their own decisions. After all, shouldn't the people with the most intimate knowledge of a situation be in charge of driving positive change? If you have any questions about the bill, please don't hesitate to call one of my offices listed at the bottom of this page.

Tags: Representative Rick Crawford, Student Success Act, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

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