New education law an improvement over defunct No Child Left Behind

Jan 14, 2016 U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, Washington, D.C.


Late in 2015 Congress passed a monumental law that returned education control and decision making back to where it belongs, with states and local communities. Not only does the new law overhaul the outdated and burdensome No Child Left Behind testing requirements, but it ends federal incentives that impose Common Core standards.

The No Child Left Behind Law required states to set standards and test for those standards. Over the years the Obama administration co-opted the law and started requiring states to adopt standards the administration believed were best.When members of the president's party were in charge of the Senate they and the administration prevented changes to the law that would stop the administration from using the expiration of No Child Left Behind for its own purposes.

In less than a year after taking back the majority in the Senate, the GOP has done what parents, teachers and states have been demanding, they passed legislation that specifically stops the administration from requiring Common Core and other standards.

For too long now I have heard stories from teachers, students and parents from all across Wyoming about the harm inflicted by the prep-for-the-test system that has been in place. That ended with the signing of this bill.

Under this bill, the U.S. Department of Education does not call the shots. It reverses the flow. Just read page 844 where it explicitly states that "No funds provided to the Department [of Education] under this Act may be endorse, approve, develop, require, or sanction any curriculum, including any curriculum aligned to the Common Core State Standards".

I worked on this bill as a senior member of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee and a member of the conference committee between the House and Senate that put the final version together. This law is a vast improvement over the status quo for people who want the federal government to get out of the education business.

As the Wall Street Journal commented in its editorial from November 29, "A bipartisan compromise has emerged from the Senate and House that isn't perfect but would represent the largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter-century".

Does it eliminate federal involvement completely?No, but it moves us in that direction more than a little and at a time when the nation has for years been in a headlong, downhill rush into the arms of Washington. Whether it's environmental standards, security measures or inhibitions of First Amendment, Second Amendment or others, the trend has been alarming for many conservatives. The Every Student Succeeds Act is a tremendous achievement in the current climate and deserves acclaim.

And the new law has real bipartisan support. It passed the Senate 85-12 and passed the House 359-64. One of my legislative principles is my 80-20 rule.I believe in concentrating on the 80 percent of things that we can agree on and leaving the other 20 percent for later or finding a different way.

This Elementary and Secondary Education Act has been waiting for years to be reauthorized and you can see that by following this principle we were able to finally move forward with most of the education reforms that give the power back to the states, where it is most effective. And we got a lot more than 80 percent of what we wanted in it

The Every Student Succeeds Act helps ensure that Wyoming teachers and school leaders have the power to tailor the education to meet the needs of all students, even in remote communities.

Our nation's students deserve the opportunity to learn in innovative and creative ways that will stimulate their minds and open their eyes to the countless opportunities we have in this great country. Our nation's teachers and school leaders deserve the highest levels of support and training to help our students recognize those opportunities and help prepare the next generation. Our nation's parents deserve the option to choose what educational opportunities are best for their child. This act ensures all of that can occur by empowering those diverse state and local communities to make the decisions they think are best.

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