Reauthorizing No Child Left Behind Will Stop Federal Common Core Push

Sen. Pat Roberts U.S. Senator (R-KS)
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The federal government should not have influence over state and local education decisions.

Unfortunately during the Obama administration, this has not been the case. The Department of Education has incentivized, bribed or in some cases, coerced states into implementing Common Core education standards.

The administration has doubled down on federal mandates and has used the waiver process to create law by fiat — thereby circumventing Congress and allowing those who have a federal agenda in Washington to make decisions best made on the local level.

The administration has required states to adopt Common Core standards to receive federal funding under the multibillion-dollar Race to the Top program.

They have used federal funds to develop Common Core-aligned tests.

And finally, they have threatened to withhold waivers from onerous provisions of No Child Left Behind if states do not adopt Common Core, or similarly aligned standards and assessments.

It is evident that waivers have been granted only to those states that agree to implement the administration’s preferred education policies.

In fact, the liberal New York Times has referred to the waiver process as “the most sweeping use of executive authority to re-write federal education law since Washington expanded its involvement in education in the 1960s.”

Parents, educators and students may dislike Common Core, but they should also strongly oppose a heavy- handed federal government that forces it on them.

Parents should have a local and direct chain of accountability when it comes to something as important as the education of their children.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind) is now up for reauthorization, and with passage of this bill, called the Every Child Achieves Act, we can finally say goodbye to federal interference in what we teach our kids in school.

Language I fought to include in this bill will once and for all end Washington’s mandate on Common Core – or any future set of standards.

In fact, my language in the bill explicitly prohibits the Secretary from requiring states to submit their academic standards to the Secretary for review or approval in order to receive federal funding under the bill, and prohibits the federal government from making financial support available in a manner that is conditioned upon adoption of any specific academic standards, including Common Core.

State academic standards will once again be a state decision when the bill passes into law. Period.

Setting high standards for our schools, our teachers and our children is the right thing to do. But when there is a problem with these standards, and judging from the national outcry over Common Core, there is a problem — parents must be able to appeal directly to local lawmakers and school boards to make their opinions known and get clear, immediate results. These local officials will be held accountable for their decisions, unlike those in the federal bureaucracy.

Senator Pat Roberts is a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.