I admire and am grateful for the dedication of our educators to our children and our community. The role teachers play in their students’ lives impacts them far beyond the years they spend in the classroom. My wife Gina and I value the importance of education not only due to our experience and with our own childrens' educations, but also because Gina worked as a teacher for almost two decades.
Given the budget constraints our country is now facing, we must focus resources on programs that truly help students. Now more than ever, our Nation’s students must have access to high-quality education and skills-training needed to compete in the rapidly changing global economy. At the same time, my fellow House Republican colleagues and I are working hard to ensure that every taxpayer dollar is for education is invested wisely.
Since 1965, our country has chosen to direct more of its education dollars through Washington, D.C. This transition has empowered bureaucrats and weakened parents and local educators. Federal education spending has more than tripled since 1970, yet academic achievement has remained flat, graduation rates have stagnated and researchers have found serious shortcomings in many federally funded education programs. Moreover, many programs are duplicative or are highly restrictive, serving only a small number of students at a high per-capita expense.
The historic increases in federal funding for and expanded federal authority over K-12 and secondary education have not resulted in significant reform or improvement in America’s schools. At the federal level, Congress and the Administration should limit federal policymaking authority and transfer greater power back to the state and local levels. State policymakers are responsible for the implementation of systemic education reforms to hold schools and students accountable for results, to expand parental choice between public and private schools and to improve school and teacher effectiveness. States should have the freedom to opt out of federal education programs and should be allowed to consolidate federal funding into block grants in order to be able to direct resources to any lawful education purpose they see fit. Bottom-up education reform will only really occur when local governments are free from federal paperwork and do not have to be subject to the whims of federal bureaucrats for education dollars.
America needs education reform, but we must change the current course which our country is following.