DeMint, Cornyn Introduce A-PLUS Act
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 key reforms to No Child Left Behind, providing states and schools the flexibility needed to improve student achievement. The bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Jon Kyl (R-Arizona), Mel Martinez (R-Florida), and Sam Brownback (R-Kansas). U.S. Congressman Pete Hoekstra (R-Michigan) has introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives with over 50 cosponsors.
"We must move education decision-making out of Washington closer to where it belongswith parents and teachers," Sen. Cornyn said. "States should be given the flexibility to design educational programs that fit the local needs of individual districts, parents and children. This bill will reduce the bureaucratic red tape that often stands in the way of results, accountability and superior schools."
"Republicans and Democrats agree that burdensome regulations are preventing our schools and students from achieving their best," said Senator DeMint. "Its time to give states the freedom to innovate and prepare our children to succeed in a global economy."
"Parents are expressing real outrage and frustration across the nation. While No Child Left Behind measures and confirms the failure of public schools, it is not doing enough to improve them. Schools should be accountable to parents and students not a federal bureaucracy," said Senator DeMint.
A-PLUS would give states flexibility to consolidate federal education programs and funding and redirect these resources to state education reform initiatives. Currently, the Department of Education forces states to use federal education funds on specific programs, an approach that has shown little success. In exchange for the flexibility A-PLUS provides, states would be required to be transparent about academic results.
The current federal education system wastes resources on bureaucracy, regulations, and paperwork. According to the Office of Management and Budget, the No Child Left Behind Act increased the annual paperwork burden by 6,680,334 hours. Every hour that our educators spend weeding through burdensome federal paperwork is an hour they cannot spend educating our children.
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.