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OP-ED: Supporting Teacher Flexibility and State Education Control

Martha Roby (R - AL-02)

America’s education system needs to be reformed. The current federal limitations placed on teachers, parents, and students in local classrooms and schools are hindering academic success.

A quality education is the springboard from which our children may pursue their highest dreams. As a mother of a child in public school, I know local teachers are best suited to teach local students. Alabama administrators and teachers know what is best for our students rather than faceless bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.

Upon entering Congress, I pledged to visit every school district in our area to talk to students and listen to their teachers. After one year of frequent school visits, I have gained valuable insight into the challenges that our schools are facing. More and more, I hear frustrations associated with No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the education law passed by Congress in 2002. What was a seemingly promising law upon its passage, NCLB has evolved into an unworkable and unrealistic mandate that must be re-written.

Serving as a Member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, I am proud the committee is taking action to reform broken NCLB policies. Building on last year’s bipartisan progress, this year we are turning our attention to legislation that addresses specific areas of the law. The committee is soon considering two bills that will specifically address teacher flexibility and state education control. I am a proud co-sponsor of both of these bills, which I have listed below:

· The Student Success Act (H.R. 3989), which would return responsibility for student achievement to state governments, school districts, and parents, while maintaining high education standards. The legislation would also provide state educators and local school districts with greater flexibility to meet students’ unique needs.

· The Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act (H.R. 3990), which would increase school choice, promote local innovation in public education, and provide parents with information regarding teacher effectiveness.

Removing federal standards and granting teachers more flexibility on the local level is the key to reforming our broken education system. By allowing states to determine the local educational needs of students and by releasing teachers from outdated mandates, we will move our system forward. Properly implementing that reform is critical. Providing our teachers, parents, and states with long-term solutions will allow them to run effective schools and will afford our students the opportunity to succeed.

Martha Roby is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. You can follow her on Twitter @RepMarthaRoby

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