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KATKO: EDUCATION REFORM BILL ROLLS BACK TOP-DOWN, COMMON CORE APPROACH AND EMPOWERS LOCAL EDUCATORS

December 2, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With the support of Rep. John Katko (NY-24), the U.S. House of Representatives this evening passed H.R. 5, The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015.  This bipartisan, bicameral legislation represents the first education reform bill in over fourteen years.  The bill, which is a product of the House and Senate conference committee empowers local educators and replaces the fundamentally flawed No Child Left Behind law.
 
“Central New York parents, educators, and administrators know best when it comes to educating our children and improving education in our schools.  We must credit our teachers with the ability to make decisions on the local level and give them the flexibility they need to teach students using unique, inventive, and creative methods reflective of local conditions,” said U.S. Rep. John Katko.   “We can’t teach students in the City of Syracuse the same way that we teach students in Fulton, in Auburn, in Palmyra, or Fayetteville-Manlius.  Each school district  -- and each child -- is different.  Our education standards must reflect that.”
 
This bill eliminates the one-size-fits-all policy of education and shifts authority from the federal government to the states in order to give local school administrators and teachers the power to define what it means for a school to be successful.  Importantly, the federal government may not mandate or incentivize states to adopt or maintain any particular set of standards, including Common Core.
 
Katko explained, “The Every Student Succeeds Act significantly scales back the federal government’s role in education, providing greater flexibility so that decisions on education can be made at the state and local level.”
 
The bill reduces testing requirements, giving state and local school districts the flexibility to design their own systems for judging school performance and the ability to measure  academic progress through test scores, graduation rates and English language acquisitions.
 
Katko, who has focused intensively on the rate of local poverty in Syracuse and the correlation between poverty and education added, “There’s no question that education is key to addressing the devastating rate of poverty in the City of Syracuse — and in communities nationwide.  This legislation supports at-risk, impoverished and homeless student populations and gives schools the tools that they need to address to help these students succeed in school."
 
"The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 is an important step towards bringing sanity back to testing and accountability," said NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta. "In addition to preserving investments in early childhood education and equity for poor students, it gives states like New York much greater flexibility to decide what their teacher evaluation and accountability systems look like, and how they work. Most importantly, the re-authorization of ESEA takes the government out of the business of teacher evaluations, and de-links studenttest scores from teacher evaluations. That can lead to a welcome path here in New York State."
 
Specifically, the Every Student Succeeds Act:
 
•   Prevents the federal government from mandating states to adopt Common Core, allowing each state to set its own challenging academic standards in reading and math.

•   Repeals the one-size-fits-all  “Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)” system and replaces it with a comprehensive, state-designed accountability system that will evaluate school performance using multiple measures beyond test scores to help identify and support low-performing schools.   

•    Supports Teachers, Principals, and Other Educators by ending mandates on teacher evaluations, and instead provides high quality training, ongoing evidence-based professional development, and recruitment opportunities for new educators.

•    Prioritizes learning outcomes for students of all abilities, setting high standards for students with disabilities and focusing on the unique needs of students who are studying English as a second language.  

•   Provides states flexibility to monitor student performance, empowering states and local districts to develop and implement their own innovative assessments.
 
•   Enhances support for schools, through a grant program which gives school districts the ability to target specific needs and better serve students, for example, through the effective use of technology.
 
•   Promotes high quality choices for parents by both expanding current high-quality charter school models and investing in models while incentivizing charter school accountability, transparency, and community engagement practices.
 
•   Maintains, strengthens, and streamlines existing critical programs by supporting those that emphasize innovation, teacher quality, afterschool programing, STEM education, arts education, and accelerated learning, safe and healthy students, literacy, and community involvement inschools, among others.
 
•   Allows states to limit the amount of time students spend taking annual tests and gives parents the right to the right to opt their children out of statewide academic assessments where state and local policies allow them to do so.

The legilsation embodies the expectation that all students will learn at high levels and that schools will receive vitally needed resources.  Significantly, it clearly and repeatedly places prohibitions on the U.S. Secretary of Education, limiting the authority of the Department of Education to guarantee an end to the prescriptiveness and required federal approval that made No Child Left Behind increasingly problematic.
 
Katko concluded, “The current approach to education is failing our children and their teachers.  With more and more children falling through the cracks, it is evident that more federal control of education is not the answer.  This bipartisan agreement gives opportunity to students across our country and is the first step in fixing our broken education system.”
 
Congressman John Katko represents the 24th Congressional District of New York, which includes Onondaga, Cayuga, Wayne, and a portion of Oswego County.  For more information, visit Katko.house.gov orFacebook.com/RepJohnKatko.

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