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Key Education Bill Includes Strong Defense of State Authority Over Education

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A major education bill introduced today included language that strongly defends states' authority over education policy decisions, provisions of which were introduced in a standalone bill by U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) last month.

H.R. 5, The Student Success Act of 2013, was introduced today by House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN). The bill seeks several reforms to current education law, including affirming the authority of states to determine curricula and set standards free from the coercive influence of the federal government.

Rep. Roby, who is seeking to ensure such rights in her recent legislation, the Defending State Authority Over Education Act, said she is pleased to know the bill language will be included in the House's overall education reauthorization and reform bill.

"Over the past few weeks we have received overwhelming support for our efforts to rein in the federal government's intrusion into state education policy decisions," Rep. Roby said. "Parents, teachers, education advocates and state leaders from all over the country are concerned about the Obama Administration tying funding and special treatment to certain standards or curricula.

"I appreciate Chairman Kline for once again including in the House's comprehensive education bill strong language that defends the authority of states to set education policy without undue pressure from Washington. This makes it more likely that our effort to redefine the federal government's role in education policymaking will make it on to the House floor for a vote."

Upon introduction of her standalone bill, Rep. Roby said she hoped to see the legislative language included in the overall education reauthorization and reform bill [video]. The language is located within Section 467 of H.R. 5, which can be found on page 467 or the bill [bill text].

Overall, the Student Success Act of 2013 would restore local control, support more effective teachers, reduce the federal footprint and empower parents.

Specific to state standards, the bill prohibits the federal government from making special funding grants and coveted regulation waivers contingent on whether a state is using certain curriculum or assessment policies.

Additional reforms included in the Student Success Act of 2013 are:

* Returning responsibility for student achievement to local leaders - The Student Success Act repeals the burdensome Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) from the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and replaces it with state-determined accountability systems, thereby returning authority for measuring student performance to states and local school districts.

* Supporting local efforts to measure teacher effectiveness - The bill repeals federal "Highly Qualified Teacher" requirements and directs states and districts to develop teacher evaluation systems that measure an educator's influence on student learning. Under the Student Success Act, these evaluations must be locally developed and implemented within broad parameters that factor in student achievement, incorporate multiple measures, and include feedback from all stakeholders.

* Creating funding flexibility - Instead of having to comply with a host of federal program requirements dictating exactly how special funds may be spent, under the Student Success Act, state and local officials will be able to use federal funds to meet their own unique needs. While school districts will not be allowed to use Title I funds outside of those schools, they can move additional funding to low-income schools.

* Improving the Impact Aid Formula for schools near non-taxed federal lands - The Student Success Act updates the formula by which the federal government helps make up for the lack of funding in schools on or near non-taxed federal lands. The bill also streamlines provisions for heavily impacted school districts, which are districts with high percentages of military students, Native Americans, or other federally-connected children and requires the Secretary of Education to provide Impact Aid payments within three years.

* Consolidating federal government programs - The Student Success Act consolidates myriad existing K-12 education programs into a new Local Academic Flexible Grant, which provides funding to states and school districts to support local priorities that improve student achievement.

* Encouraging parental involvement - The Student Success Act maintains the current requirement that states and school districts issue and distribute annual report cards, but streamlines the data reporting to ensure meaningful information is easily available to parents and communities, and includes a provision that nothing in the law should be interpreted to impact state laws on parent exercise of authority over low-performing schools.


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