This week, Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT), who served as an educator in the Utah public school system for 28 years, introduced the Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success Act (A-PLUS) [H.R. 2514]. This legislation would allow states to enter into a five-year performance agreement with the U.S. Secretary of Education, allowing states complete autonomy to improve and enhance their education system without federal interference.
"Since the federal government got involved in education over 45 years ago with the creation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, there is little evidence to prove that education provided today is any better off now than it was in 1965. Over nearly five decades schools have gradually lost their autonomy and flexibly to meet the unique needs of their student population," said Congressman Bishop.
H.R. 2514 would exempt states from federal education programs and allow federal education funds to be block granted for any lawful education purpose the states deem beneficial. This allows states to opt out of the prescriptive programmatic requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and use funding in a way that will best meet their students' needs.
"Education is not something that can be addressed on a one-size-fits-all approach. Right now, federal mandates and regulations are limiting each state's ability to provide innovative reforms necessary to meet diverse educational needs," Bishop added.
Under this bill, a state must have the approval of at least two out of three state entities on their proposed performance agreement submitted by the state, such as the Governor, state legislature, and state education agency. Under the five-year performance agreement, states must demonstrate increased academic achievement.
"The A-Plus Act would return accountability back to states, school districts, educators and parents. This local control will allow each community to assess and address their unique educational requirements, ensuring that the needs of all students are met," Bishop concluded. "Maintaining the status quo is failing our children. This legislation would give educators and parents the flexibility necessary to make the changes this country needs."