A-PLUS ACT (NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND REFORM) -- (House of Representatives - March 13, 2007)
Ms. FOXX. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address important changes to the No Child Left Behind Act. I recently held a roundtable discussion on this issue with my constituents from all over the Fifth District held in Forsyth County, North Carolina. It was a great opportunity for me to hear from superintendents, board of education members, principals and teachers from across the district about their concerns with No Child Left Behind and their recommendations for program improvements.
As a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor, it was important for me to hear firsthand what educators believe is working and is not working in No Child Left Behind.
One of the main concerns brought to me during this roundtable was the role that special education students play in the Federal oversight process. Due to the wide-ranging needs and challenges faced by special needs students, it is becoming increasingly difficult for schools to meet Federal standards.
It is apparent that the subgroup of special needs students is not accounted for in the way No Child Left Behind enforces standards on a state-wide basis. In fact, the unique needs of special needs students is often the only reason many of North Carolina's excellent schools do not reach AYP, or average yearly progress.
Based on what North Carolina's educators are saying, the A-PLUS Act is a step in the right direction that responds to the needs of our teachers and students.
The A-PLUS Act preserves States rights while keeping essential funding for our schools intact.
Instead of cumbersome Federal mandates that take a cookie-cutter approach to education, the A-PLUS Act would give States the constitutional freedom to set their own education policies, based on the needs of their students, without burdensome Federal Government intrusion.
This bill reduces the burden that Federal financial support poses on education programs so that teachers can focus on educating instead of paperwork and bureaucratic mandates. We have many wonderful teachers out there doing their best every day to do their job, and they are distracted from doing their job by this paperwork.
By giving States back their full constitutional right to set education policy, this bill will encourage innovative solutions to the unique education issues faced by every State.
The A-PLUS Act provides States and their local communities with maximum freedom and flexibility to determine how to improve academic achievement and implement education reforms.
State and local governments should be in control of education policies, and the Federal Government's limits the responsibility should lie in providing incentives and accountability. Thus, A-PLUS allows States and local school systems the freedom to set up local accountability plans.
In conclusion, local accountability places the emphasis where it should be, on students, parents and teachers, instead of on an often unresponsive Federal bureaucracy.
And I want to support the comments made by my colleague from New Jersey, who reminds us that the Constitution doesn't have the word ``education' anywhere in it. It is not the role of the Federal Government to provide for the education of our children. It is the role of the States, the localities and parents, and I applaud him for bringing that to our attention. We need to have that brought to our attention every time the Federal Government starts getting involved in an inappropriate way.