Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for calling this subcommittee hearing. I am pleased to welcome the witnesses to this hearing on education regulations. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to provide us with guidance on how we can lessen the burden on schools while improving student achievement.
The timing of this hearing is important as this congress continues the bipartisan, bicameral reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. I have participated in five reauthorizations of ESEA during my time in Congress, and strongly believe this reauthorization is long overdue.
The role of the federal government in education has changed over the years but the mission remains the same: to ensure equal access to a quality public education for all students. Through the elementary and secondary education act (ESEA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) the federal government has advanced this important civil rights goal.
No Child Left Behind called for the disaggregation of data for low income students, minorities, students with disabilities and English language learners and shed light on the inequalities in our education system. Prior to the law achievement among these students was masked or hidden by the system. The call for information and accountability was the right thing to do.
Unfortunately, the one-size fits all approach of current law did not do enough to close the achievement gap. We need to give states the support and flexibility they need, while still ensuring equal opportunity for diverse student groups.
It is important to look at the requirements we are placing on states and districts through federal law and regulations. If we can streamline program administration and better align programs and data to reduce burdens, we should do that as long as we are maintaining our core goals.
However, there needs to be some level of direction from the federal government to create coherence in the system, maintain accountability, and increase student achievement.
I fundamentally believe that education is a local function, a state responsibility, and finally a federal concern.
Through this process, I hope we never lose sight of the opportunity we have before us. We must prepare to do what is right for all students, even if it requires a lot of work and significant change.