Today, Representative Rob Bishop (R–UT) introduced the A-PLUS bill, which allows states to opt out of the myriad programs funded under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and use their money for priorities they deem most important.
As Heritage Foundation analyst Lindsey Burke notes:
There are some 60 competitive grant programs and approximately 20 formula grant programs that fall under NCLB.… The complex application processes of many grant programs waste time and resources that could be better employed in the classroom.
A report from the Office of Management and Budget found that NCLB costs states an additional 7 million hours in paperwork at a cost of 141 million taxpayer dollars per year. Representative Duncan Hunter (R–CA), who serves on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, notes that the paperwork burden has increased some 65 percent since 2002.
Furthermore, as one superintendent noted:
Designing and implementing instructional activities under federal programs is complicated by a myriad of requirements and statutory set-asides, as well as reservations of funds for particular activities.
Instead of jumping through Washington’s hoops, A-PLUS allows states to “consolidate their federal education funds to be used for any lawful education purpose they deem beneficial.” While states are still required to demonstrate that students are achieving, they are able to choose where to direct educational funds and are not bound down by the red tape from Washington.
Representative John Kline (R–MN) is also working to reduce bureaucracy for states and school districts and is in the process of introducing a series of bills that aim to return school control to local leaders. Kline introduced legislation to give states significantly greater flexibility in determining how education dollars are spent. The bill was reported out of the House Education and the Workforce Committee today.
Burke reports that, under Kline’s flexibility proposal, “states and school districts would have flexibility with about $20 billion of the $25 billion in federal funding.”
Year after year of Washington involvement in education has failed to improve schools. And across the nation states are taking the reins to implement innovative reforms that put power back into the hands of those with the greatest stake in children’s education: parents and taxpayers.
As Kline noted in April:
If we are going to move forward in education, Washington has to move in a new direction. States and schools should be able to set their own innovative priorities and receive maximum flexibility to advance those priorities.