Federal education policy is in need of dramatic reform. When No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was enacted in 2001, it expanded the use of performance data to help educators identify students most in need of additional instruction and offered parents access to important information about the quality of their schools. However, one-size-fits-all accountability metrics restrict states’ and school districts’ ability to appropriately gauge student learning and create a curriculum to prepare students for postsecondary education or the workforce.

Federally prescribed interventions and turnaround strategies have not worked or produced the desired results in low-performing schools. I’ve supported education reforms that return responsibility for student achievement to states, school districts, and parents, while maintaining high expectations, eliminating ineffective federal programs, and investing limited taxpayer dollars wisely.

Education serves its purpose best when parents, local communities, and state governments are empowered to tailor curricula to meet their unique circumstances and challenges. I have concerns about the federalization of school curricula.

For example, Common Core is touted as a voluntary, state-led effort to establish a single set of educational standards for grades K-12. While allegedly state-led, federal funding for the Obama administration’s school reform initiative – “Race to the Top” – effectively is tied to state adoption of Common Core. As an advocate for shrinking the size of the federal government, I support granting state and local government’s local curriculum control and do not believe the federal government should be able to dictate to local schools on how they teach their students.

Federal over-reach into education continues at the post-secondary level as well. For years, legislators have put themselves in charge of setting student loan interest rates, which causes uncertainty for students and needlessly politicizes a critically important issue.

Current college graduates face an average of $30,000 in student loan debt, the most debt of any graduating class in history. I supported bi-partisan efforts to address this problem by supporting legislation to apply a market-based interest rate to federal student loans, ensuring that borrowers have access to the best possible rates. By tying rates to the market, we provided a predictable formula for interest-rate calculations and protected students from high interest rates.

Students deserve a stable and simple solution that strengthens our student-loan system and protects their financial future from the political posturing in Washington.

Bill Search