New companion bills introduced in the House and the Senate yesterday suggest that a good way for children to get an education is to let teachers teach. The GOP bills give state governments, parents, and teachers the responsibility for educating their students.
The current system uses standardized tests to evaluate school performance and requires schools to produce better test scores each year. The bills, if passed, would give states the freedom to develop their own education plans, without requiring final approval from the education secretary. States would also be responsible for setting their own education standards, rather than following federal testing requirements.
Critics say this will take the U.S. back to the system in place before President George W. Bush and Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy crafted No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Launched in 2001, NCLB tried to improve schools by testing students regularly and tying funding to the test results. The Education Department continues to rework the requirements but the structure remains the same. Critics worry the GOP bill will reduce accountability and lead to poorer teaching.
Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) rejected that criticism: "You're assuming a state doesn't care.”
Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, top Republican on the Senate Education Committee, said, “The U.S. secretary of education and Department of Education should create an environment in which the parents, the teachers and the governors can succeed, rather than have a national school board that has to approve standards and tests and the quality of teachers in 100,000 different public schools.”