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Senator Lankford Supports A-PLUS Amendment to Education Bill to Force More Local Control

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today supported the Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success (A-PLUS) amendment to the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177), which is being debated in the Senate. The A-PLUS amendment, offered by Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) and co-authored by Lankford, would provide states and local leaders the ability to completely opt out of programs outlined under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the most recent reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. A-PLUS will also give states and local governments the authority to direct federal dollars toward the needs and programs for the state. The A-PLUS amendment failed on a vote of 44-54.

“Everyone agrees that the once-innovative ideas contained in No Child Left Behind are burdensome and unworkable for students, teachers, parents and administrators,” said Lankford. “Allowing the Administration to offer waivers in exchange for freedom from requirements is a ‘mother-may-I’ game that can be revoked at any time. Oklahomans know first-hand how the Administration can and will say no, revoking what little decision-making authority existed in the first place.

“The current system isn’t working and changes need to be made. There are several good ideas to transfer decisions regarding education standards and spending from bureaucrats in Washington to those who work closest with Oklahoma students. I was proud to support the A-PLUS amendment as the least restrictive of those options, to give states that choose to opt-in complete control over their education dollars. While the ultimate goal didn’t prevail, the underlying bill makes tremendous strides towards that objective, ending No Child Left Behind and the Administration’s strings-attached approach to education policy. It has been far too long since Congress addressed the deficiencies of No Child Left Behind and it’s time to do the right thing for students, parents and teachers.”

Since No Child Left Behind was passed in 2001, it forced states to adopt mandates imposed by Washington, such as Common Core, and test-based academic requirements. The Every Child Achieves Act will give state and local governments more control of education decisions, and decrease federal test-based requirements.

Lankford’s first bill co-sponsorship in the Senate was the “Local Leadership in Education Act,” a bill that would protect states and local school districts from increased federal intrusion. That legislation would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to prohibit the federal government from mandating, directing, or controlling academic standards or curriculum and prohibit incentivizing the adoption of any specific federal standards. The A-PLUS amendment, Local Leadership in Education Act, and Every Child Achieves Act all seek to return control of education policy where it belongs—to the states.

The Senate is considering amendments to the Every Child Achieves Act this week with an expected vote on final passage next week.