Congressman Rob Bishop (UT-01) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) today introduced the Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success Act (A-PLUS) [H.R. 2456]. The legislation allows states to opt out of the prescriptive programmatic requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) by presenting a five-year declaration of intent to the U.S. Secretary of Education. States would then be exempt from NCLB programs and federal funding would be block granted for lawful education purposes that the state determined to be beneficial for districts, schools, and students. Congressman Bishop taught public school in Utah for 28 years.
"As a former teacher I can attest to the fact that No Child Left Behind is the wrong approach to improving education standards in this country. It's overly prescriptive and limits teachers' ability to address the unique needs of their students. This nation is simply too great, too broad, and too diverse for one set of ideas to rule from coast to cast. California is not Kansas. Alabama is not Alaska, and Massachusetts is not Utah. Yet, through the eyes of No Child Left Behind, each state is the same and the educational needs of the students are addressed the same way," said Congressman Bishop.
States must have the approval of at least two state entities, which include the Governor, state legislature, and state education agency. Upon garnering the approval, states may only then submit the declaration of intent to the U.S. Department of Education.
"No Child Left Behind is misguided and ought to be abandoned and replaced by a common sense alternative like the A-PLUS Act. This legislation gives states, teachers, and parents greater autonomy and accountability," Bishop added.
The following requirements will be made of states that present the U.S. Department of Education with the five-year declaration of intent:
· States must demonstrate increased academic achievement for all students and narrow achievement gaps.
· States must disaggregate performance data for various student demographic groups and provide a description of the state's accountability system to parents and the Secretary of Education.
· States must also outline how they plan to improve education for disadvantaged students.
· States are also required to meet all requirements of federal civil rights laws.