DeMint, Cornyn Introduce A-PLUS Act
Gives parents, teachers, and states more control and flexibility
Today, U.S. Senators Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced the Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success Act (A-PLUS). The bill would make critical reforms to No Child Left Behind, providing states and schools the flexibility needed to improve student achievement outside of burdensome federal regulations. The bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), David Vitter (R-Louisiana), and Jim Bunning (R-Kentucky). U.S. Congressman Pete Hoekstra (R-Michigan) has introduced similar legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives with over 50 cosponsors.
"I believe local educators and parents are best equipped to make important decisions for their schools," said Senator Cornyn. "Our legislation gives states flexibility to institute educational programs that suit the needs of their students and school districts. The A-PLUS Act recalibrates the balance of power between federal and state governments, and strengthens schools' accountability to parents. Instead of rewarding schools for making risk-averse policy decisions about how to meet NCLB targets, A-PLUS empowers schools to base policy decisions on the interests of their students. In this way, we can ensure that our students are receiving an education that best fits their needs."
"It's time to give parents and teachers more choices and flexibility to offer children the best education possible," said Senator DeMint. "We cannot continue to overburden states and teachers with heavy-handed Washington mandates that limit their ability to provide the best opportunity for our children to succeed. Our bill would allow states to focus on students and use innovation to promote real achievement instead of forcing them into a one-size-fits-all model that has stifled academic progress."
A-PLUS would give states flexibility to consolidate federal education programs and funding and redirect these resources to innovative state education initiatives. Currently, the Department of Education forces states to use federal education funds on specific programs, an approach that has shown little success. Under A-PLUS, states could end ineffective or inefficient federal programs and target resources toward more urgent needs. In exchange for this flexibility, states would be required to be transparent about academic results.
The current federal education system wastes resources on bureaucracy, regulations, and paperwork. Every hour our educators spend weeding through burdensome federal paperwork is an hour they cannot spend educating our children. A-PLUS will give states, rather than the federal government, the ability to direct standards and assessments for results. Thus, fewer resources will be consumed by administrative costs to comply with federal rules and regulations.
Under the A-PLUS Act:
- All states would have the option of establishing a 5-year Performance Agreement with the Secretary of Education.
- If approved, states could consolidate funds from a few or all of the federal education programs and redirect them to innovative programs created at the state level.
- In exchange for this flexibility, participating states would be required to meet their state performance objectives for improving student academic achievement and demonstrate a narrowing of achievement gaps.
- If a state fails to improve academic achievement, their Performance Agreement would be revoked and they would revert back to the NCLB system.
- Accountability and student achievement would remain a high priority with A-PLUS, but unlike NCLB, A-PLUS allows states to use a variety of innovative accountability programs.
- A-PLUS would ensure transparency by requiring states to submit annual reports on student progress to parents and taxpayers.