Tulsa World: Send Uncle Sam to the principal’s office, but keep him out of the classroom

By: World's Editorial Writers

U.S. Sen. James Lankford is co-sponsoring a proposal to halt federal mandates for state academic standards on testing.

The Local Leadership in Education Act would amend the federal No Child Left Behind law to prohibit it from providing any direction or control over academic standards or curriculum, incentivizing the adoption of certain standards, or making financial support conditional for standards, curriculum or student test administration. Additionally, the legislation calls for a ban on requiring states to test students annually.

Lankford says his advocacy for the bill came from the anxieties parents expressed about Common Core standards during his election campaign. The Oklahoma Legislature adopted then repealed Common Core amid a false propaganda campaign claiming that the standard was written and imposed by the federal government.

We supported the Common Core standards, and still do, but we also think Lankford’s position is appropriate.

Common Core was a good idea for Oklahoma because it would have raised our educational standards, ensured that high school graduates have fundamental competencies and provided results that were comparable to other Common Core states on an even basis.

Common Core addressed Oklahoma education problems with decisions made by Oklahoma policymakers.

That’s how it should be. The right place to figure out how to solve Oklahoma’s educational problems is Oklahoma.

Lankford’s move to prevent federal mandates on states about how to meet educational needs shows an appreciation of that, and we agree with him.

There’s more work for Congress to accomplish in this same direction. The perception that Common Core was being imposed on the states grew out of a U.S. Department of Education waiver process to allow states to avoid No Child Left Behind mandates. Those mandates weren’t realistic when they were passed and have not improved with age. So, a bad law led to a worse process: policy created by the bureaucracy with no debate, no legislation, and no recorded vote.

It’s time for Congress to scrap No Child Left Behind and create a more realistic mechanism for federal education funding. Until that time, Lankford’s proposal is a good idea.