On Jan. 30, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts introduced a bill that would prevent the federal government from “coercing states to adopt education standards.” The bill takes aim at the Obama administration’s withholding of federal Race to the Top grants from states that don’t adopt national Common Core curriculum and testing mandates.
Roberts’ (R-KS) Learning Opportunities Created at the Local (LOCAL) Level Act would prohibit “the Federal Government from mandating, directing, or controlling a State, local educational agency, or school’s curriculum, program of instruction, or allocation of State and local resources, and from mandating a State or any subdivision thereof to spend any funds or incur any costs not paid for under such Act.”
The LOCAL Level Act addresses the current administration’s unprecedented tethering of federal education dollars to Common Core adoption, both through the $4.35 billion in federal grants known as Race to the Top and through eagerly sought waivers of the largest federal education law, No Child Left Behind.
NCLB prohibits federal influence on curriculum and tests, notes Sarah Little, Roberts’ spokeswoman.
“What was once a voluntary program at the state level has become a federal program under the Obama administration coerced, through Race to the Top, grants and waivers,” she said.
‘State-Led’ Promise Endangered
This bill demonstrates the “increasing awareness” among citizens and lawmakers that “federal education overreach benefits special interests and degrades the authority of the American people,” said Emmett McGroarty, executive director of education at the American Principles Project, a nonprofit group.
Active legislation in approximately two-dozen states would repeal, reconsider, or delay Common Core. So far, only Indiana has responded to growing grassroots opposition to the requirements by deciding to replace Common Core with homegrown standards.
“It’s clear that these Senators are feeling the heat from their constituents,” said Michael McShane, an American Enterprise Institute research fellow. “As the Common Core becomes more visible as state tests become aligned to the standards, test their students, unveil the results, and make high-stakes decisions—all while spending big bucks to properly implement the effort— we can only expect it to get hotter. If Common Core supporters are serious about the effort being ‘state-led,’ they should rally around the language used in this resolution.”
“Learning Opportunities Created At Local (LOCAL) Level Act,” U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts: http://www.roberts.senate.gov/public/?a=Files.Serve&File_id=fc48bb3d-d35b-4d59-95b3-04dc654c131b