Student Success Act A Win for Local Control
Passage last week of H.R. 5, the Student Success Act of 2015, was a win for local communities who for years have been fighting government overreach in education. This bill overturns years of overreach by the United States Department of Education and returns local control to school districts across the Fourth District of Arkansas.
I have worked with educators and stakeholders across the state to ensure Arkansas has a voice. Since taking office in January, I have spent many days and nights reviewing legislation, speaking with parents and educators, and communicating with education leaders back home to make sure the Student Success Act reflected the needs of our students and our priorities, not those of lobbyists and special interests in Washington.
As a result of these months of work, the House passed a bill that benefits students across Arkansas and the nation. According to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, H.R. 5:
- Replaces the current national accountability scheme based on high stakes tests with state-led accountability systems, returning responsibility for measuring student and school performance to states and school districts;
- Protects state and local autonomy over decisions in the classroom by preventing the Secretary of Education from coercing states into adopting Common Core or any other common standards or assessments, as well as reining in the Secretary’s regulatory authority;
- Ensures parents continue to have the information they need to hold local schools accountable;
- Provides states the ability to use federal funds to examine the number and quality of assessments given to students and empowers school districts to administer their own assessments with state approval;
- Eliminates 69 ineffective and duplicative programs and replaces this maze of programs with a Local Academic Flexible Grant to help schools better support students;
- Empowers parents with more school choice options by continuing support for magnet schools and expanding charter school opportunities, as well as allowing Title I funds to follow low-income children to the traditional public or charter school of the parent’s choice;
- Provides parents the ability to opt children out of annual testing and exempts schools from including students that have opted out in the schools’ testing participation requirements; and
- Strengthens existing efforts to improve student performance among targeted student populations, including English learners and homeless children.
As I said on July 8, I believe the Student Success Act is a good first step toward our goal of complete local control of Arkansas schools with no federal government overreach.