Lessons for Utah from Iowa: Fight for control of education

By Lindsey M. Burke

The Heritage Foundation

Published: Thursday, July 26 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Moreover, the NCLB waivers are emanating from the executive branch, creating a situation in which the White House is effectively re-writing the law without congressional approval.

One of the more frustrating aspects of the NCLB waiver issue is the fact that an alternative to NCLB that provides genuine flexibility for states exists, and doesn't carry with it the strings associated with the waivers. For years now, conservatives in Congress have championed the Academic Partnerships Lead Us To Success Act, or A-PLUS, which would allow states to completely opt-out of NCLB.

States that choose to opt-out would be empowered to use their share of federal funding for any lawful education purpose under state law. And if a state can demonstrate over a five year period that it is able to improve student outcomes, the state can continue to enjoy that flexibility.

It's a far better approach than further concentrating power in the halls of the Department of Education, which is the outcome we can expect if the White House waivers continue.

Moreover, it's an approach to reducing the federal role and providing relief to states that is a product of Congress, as it should be.

Rep. Bishop argues that further centralizing education and nationalizing standards isn't going to solve our education woes. "The only thing we haven't tried to do," Bishop notes, "is allow schools to be free. Go back to what has always worked: the free market. When people have freedom, they make better choices."

While Utah applied for, and secured, a waiver from NCLB, it's not too late to demand genuine relief from federal overreach. And it's certainly not too late to back out of the Common Core national standards boondoggle, and regain control of local school policy.

Lindsey M. Burke is Senior Education Policy Analyst at The Heritage Foundation

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