As the son of a retired Cabarrus County public school teacher, I strongly believe the opportunity to receive an excellent education is a right of every child. Education is the great equalizer in our nation and the key to more opportunities and good-paying jobs. Unfortunately, for the past few years, excessive intervention by the federal government has robbed quality education from too many of our children. Our schools and teachers are bound by what Washington wants, not by what parents, teachers and education leaders know our children need.
By extorting states to adopt Common Core, this administration has pursued unprecedented measures to strengthen its hold on our local classrooms. Despite this ever increasing reach into K-12 classrooms, student achievement remains stagnant. I’ve heard from countless teachers who are frustrated with spending valuable time abiding by Washington’s standards and unable to truly help students reach their full potential. I know how dedicated and excellent these educators are, but in too many schools, they have to focus more on checking boxes and teaching to the test than on our students. This leaves many parents with no choice but to take their children out of failing public schools. Our children deserve better, which is why I’m such a strong proponent of innovation in public education and charter schools.
Let me share a few statistics with you that clearly illustrate how broken our education system is: out of 34 countries, students in the United States rank 20th in science and 27th in math; nearly one out of every five students will drop out of high school; only 38 percent of high school seniors are proficient in reading and 26 percent proficient in math. More important than these figures are the actual students who are trying their hardest to succeed, but being held back by inefficient programs.
Last week, I heard from a student in Thomasville who is struggling because of Common Core’s confusing and frustrating mandates. It breaks my heart to hear how she and other bright students are being left behind. That’s why I voted for the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), an education reform bill to permanently end Washington’s mandate on Common Core, reform the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), and end No Child Left Behind.
While I agree that this is not nearly enough to fix our broken education system, I believe it’s a start. Without this reform, No Child Left Behind will continue on like a golf ball in space. Further, ending Common Core is the linchpin in getting Washington’s bureaucrats out of our local classrooms. This bill returns control back to teachers, parents and students by prohibiting the federal government from tying state adoption of Common Core or any other academic standards to the receipt of federal funds or waivers of K-12 education law. It also stops the federal Department of Education from using certain programs to coerce states to adopt Common Core.
In order to improve the education system, we have to move from the bureaucratic-dominated status quo to a more innovative system that includes enhanced accountability and increased parent choice. Instead of forcing students and parents under a one-size-fits-all system, we have to empower them to have better control over their education and restore local power. As every parent knows, no two children are the same. We’ve got to recognize that in our schools. America’s future depends on it.
This isn’t just about getting bureaucrats out of our schools and protecting our tax dollars. It’s about giving every student a real shot. They deserve the best, and I’m fighting to give it to them.
Richard Hudson represents the eighth congressional district, which represents Scotland County.