So now there is a go-to piece of legislation for the “get the feds out of the buisness of K-12 education” crowd: The A-Plus Act.
Introduced in the Senate last week by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., the measure would give states way more leeway in using federal funding and building systems for holding schools accountable for student achievement.
In a nutshell, the bill would give states the option of setting their own targets for student performance. The states’ plans would have to be approved by the U.S. Department of Education. Then states could pool money from a few, or all, federal ed programs and spend the funds more or less how they see fit. They could also set up their own accountability system. If states didn’t meet their performance goals, they’d have to revert back to the accountability system prescribed under the No Child Left Behind Act.
So far the bill has seven co-sponsors, all Republicans.
This bill has been around before, it was introduced in previous Congresses. It started in the House, and was championed by Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich. In fact, at one point, Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the current chairman of the House education committee, was a co-sponsor. Kline is now considering moving smaller more targeted bills, perhaps starting with one aimed at greater local flexibility. The A-Plus Act certainly provides a model for that, although it’s unclear if Kline would take a similar tact.
The Education Trust, which advocates for poor and minority kids, isn’t a fan of the bill.