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Public Statements

Student Success Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SCALISE. Mr. Chairman, the amendment I bring forward today deals specifically with reforms that many States have made. I will talk specifically about reforms that have been made in my great State of Louisiana, especially as it relates to teacher evaluation.

Specifically, what my amendment would do would be to remove the mandate that is in the legislation that requires States to adopt the Federal rule on teacher evaluation.

The reason I say that is not just because Louisiana has a highly successful teacher evaluation program that is working very well for the people of Louisiana, but in general, when you look at the successes that we've seen across the country as it relates to education reform, it has been State and local governments that have driven those great successes. That is because the States are the incubators, and our States and local governments are the most accountable to the parents who have most at stake in concern for the children's education.

The amendment specifically makes sure that there can be no mandate by the Federal Government, especially one that would override what is being done at the State level. I have seen very closely in my State--in fact, when I was in the State legislature, we passed some dramatic education reforms.

When you look at the city of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, before the hurricane, it was probably one of the most failed, corrupt public education systems in the Nation. Because we made reforms--not only at the State, but at the local level--where we created charter schools, we had so much innovation that now other States across the country are looking to what we did as a model for how to transfer or merge urban education.

Parents are actually much more involved in their children's education because they have a real stake, they have real choices to give their children, better educational opportunities, and I don't want to see that interfered with by anything that might come out of the Federal Government.

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Mr. SCALISE. Mr. Chairman, in closing, I want to address a few of the points that were made by my friend from Colorado.

He said, ``It's hard to get evaluations right.''

I actually agree with him on that statement.

If that's the case, then the question we are posed with is: Who is best suited to evaluate teachers? Is it some unelected bureaucrat in Washington or is it a State or a locally elected official who is directly accountable to the parents of those children?

So we're not presented with some false choice of whether or not to evaluate teachers. As I pointed out, in the legislature in my State of Louisiana, they fought it out, and they actually passed a teacher evaluation program a few years ago that's doing well. It's actually getting good results. That's the kind of innovation we should be encouraging. We shouldn't have this idea that there is this ``one size fits all'' in Washington and that Washington knows best and that, if a State can do it better, too bad, that's its fault because the Federal Government wants to tell it how to evaluate its teachers.

I think we ought to trust the people who know best and who are most directly accountable to the parents of the students, and that's our State and local school boards. That's why this amendment says, if they've got a better way to evaluate teachers, they're the ones who are better suited to do it, not some unelected bureaucrat in Washington.

With that, I urge a ``yes'' vote on this amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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