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Senator Lankford Calls on Senate to Overturn Obama Administration Education Regulation

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WASHINGTON, DC –Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today delivered a speech on the floor of the Senate in favor of overturning an Obama administration Department of Education accountability and state plans regulation. In December 2015, Congress passed, and President Obama signed into law, the Every Student Succeeds Act to repeal No Child Left Behind, but the Obama administration Department of Education reinterpreted the bill’s regulations to place more federal mandates and responsibilities on teachers, and take away more education management from states.

Specifically, Lankford spoke in favor of H.J.Res.57, a Congressional Review Act.  A Congressional Review Act is a type of legislation that allows Congress to review a major regulation before it goes into effect and reverse it within 60 days. Congress currently has until May to pass the legislation and send it to the president’s desk to overturn the regulation. The House passed it in February, and the Senate will vote on it Thursday.


“…five months after the [Every Student Succeeds Act] was signed, the Obama administration changed their mind and released regulations to take back school decision-making and accountability in direct violation of the law. 85 of 100 of us agreed that our passion is for every school district, every parent, every state to take care of every child. That no child would be left behind by switching to local control rather than federal centralized control. But when this new rule was put out by the Obama administration, they reinterpreted that clear law. 

Let me tell you what they said actually in the rule. In the rule, they dictated to states the consequences for schools that don’t annually test at least 95% of their students. They prescribe to the states and school districts how they would intervene in the improved schools that don’t exit from this identification process of being an underperforming school. They limited how states may measure school quality or students’ success based on four-year graduation rates. They defined how much weight states must afford to non-test-based indicators in their accountability systems. This regulation prescribed the long-term goals for measurement and progress that states would use for their student sup-groups. This new regulation prescribed when schools may exit from comprehensive support based on improvement. This new regulation mandated that states comply with specific Washington, D.C.-created requirements instead of letting the school districts or the state determine how best to proceed on those requirements. This new regulation limited how states award school improvement funding to school districts and schools. This new regulation added a new and burdensome reporting requirement every four years on states and local school districts that will drive up compliance costs and will divert resources away from students and the classrooms in direct violation of what we passed. This new regulation requires states to establish a statewide definition for ineffective teacher requiring a statewide system of evaluation controlled by D.C. This new regulation limits how students are scored when they exited from special education. This new regulation controls how the school report cards are even created and how long they are. 

This is what we were exiting from with No Child Left Behind. We said in that vote for Every Student Succeeds, ‘Washington, D.C. should not do this.’ This rule directly violated the spirit and the letter of the law and will put the new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in charge of school evaluation, teacher evaluation, and student success. That’s not her role or the intent of this law when we passed it, regardless of who is the Secretary of Education.