March 9, 2017 (Windy Hill Beach, South Carolina) — The Obama administration issued regulations that increased federal government control of education. Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell discussed how the Senate can and should (and presumably, will) repeal those regulations. One is the so-called Accountability regulation, and the other involves teacher preparation programs. Here’s the bulk of Mr. McConnell’s comments on the matter from yesterday’s Congressional Record:
… the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act was one of the great triumphs of the last Congress. It represented the most significant education reform in over a decade. It heralded ‘the largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter-century,’ as the Wall Street Journal put it, empowering parents, teachers, and schools at the expense of Washington bureaucrats. It passed the Senate with wide bipartisan support, 85 to 12; [alleged] President Obama signed it into law.
The so-called Education Accountability regulation
Yet just a few months later, his administration set to shift power back from parents and schools to the Washington bureaucracy by regulation. The Obama administration’s so-called accountability regulation was written in direct — direct — contradiction to the law that passed Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support and is a prime example of the Executive overreach we in Congress are working to overturn.
Today, however, thanks to the Congressional Review Act, we have the opportunity to move past this overreaching regulation and empower those closest to our kids once again to ensure our schools are held to the highest standards.
Teacher preparation programs
We will also have the opportunity to move past another Obama-era regulation that hurts students and those seeking to go into the teaching profession. I am talking about a regulation that allows the Federal Government to insert itself into the way States choose to prepare their teachers for the classroom. States are supposed to be the leaders on core curriculum and decisions on how to prepare teachers to best meet the needs of their students–not Washington bureaucrats. By repealing this regulation, we could help restore that process. Further, this regulation increases administrative burdens that only divert much needed resources and focus away from students.
As the Kentucky Association of Colleges for Teacher Education put it, voting to remove the harmful teacher preparation regulation ‘will allow Kentucky universities and colleges to continue developing and supporting outstanding teachers who positively impact P-12 children.’
‘Teacher preparation programs have limited and shrinking resources,’ the letter said. ‘[Our] members want to spend those resources on developing exemplary teachers rather than working on compliance regulations that have not been shown to result in better prepared and higher quality teachers.’
That is from the Kentucky Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.
Groups like this know firsthand that more flexibility is the key to improving our schools. They know that those closest to students are best positioned to help our children succeed. They know that the one- size-fits-all education policies of the past are unsustainable for the future. So it is time to move past both of these harmful education regulations.
In particular, I want to recognize Senator Sasse and Senator Alexander, the HELP Committee chairman, for their leadership on these issues. They introduced legislation similar to the House-passed proposals that we will vote on this week to overturn these unfair regulations.
I encourage colleagues to support both CRA resolutions so that we can continue building upon educational policies that put America’s students and educators first.