Yesterday, the Arizona House Education Committee voted unanimously to support a resolution calling on Congress to pass the federal A-PLUS Act, which would allow states to opt-out of No Child Left Behind. The unanimous vote was bipartisan—with five Democrats and five Republicans voting in favor. The resolution now moves to the floor.
Heritage has written extensively about the benefits of the reform approach embodied in the A-PLUS Act. Dr. Matthew Ladner of the Goldwater Institute, who co-authored a report for Heritage on this topic last year, testified in favor on behalf of the bill before the Arizona committee. Last year, Ladner wrote:
Shifting greater policymaking authority back to the state level would protect academic transparency in American education. Parents, citizens, and policymakers would continue to receive the information about students’ and schools’ performance through state testing. Maintaining this transparency would ensure that all stakeholders have the needed information about how best to educate children. This would begin to restore citizen ownership of American education—a necessary step for future efforts to strengthen American public schools.
The current Congress is due to reauthorize No Child Left Behind. But the prospects of reauthorization occurring grow dimmer with every day that passes. In all likelihood, the challenge of writing the next chapter in federal education policy will fall to a new administration and a new Congress in 2009. That means that people have an opportunity to shape this important debate.
If Arizona lawmakers do pass a resolution urging Congress to support the A-PLUS Acts, it could inspire others to press for greater stat and local control. That would be a welcome development for everyone who thinks that the first step toward improving education is moving power away from the federal bureaucracy.