Five years of a love-hate relationship with No Child Left Behind (NCLB) have passed now. The President’s number one domestic policy initiative that started out with such great intentions, when it came to fruition looked little like the original. Most of the school choice and flexibility in the bill disappeared.
Now, a sensible way to keep the beneficial accountability piece of NCLB without all the federal red tape, a way that empowers states, has emerged. Senators John Cornyn (R – TX) and Jim DeMint (R – SC) are sponsoring the A-Plus (Academic Partnerships Lead to Success) Act. What the bill essentially would do is give each state the choice to opt out of the NCLB regulations, and develop its own system to achieve educational success. The so-called “charter state” option would keep the performance standards in place, so expectations for student success would remain high, but with more flexibility and local control.
Opposition to NCLB comes from all corners of the political spectrum, including the National Education Association. The A-Plus Act sounds like a sensible, win-win proposition – which the cynic in me says gives it very little chance to pass through Congress in recognizable substance.
For more information on the proposal, you can read this brief but informative Heritage Foundation Backgrounder on the “Charter State Option.” Simply put, it’s one of the best education proposals to come out of Washington, DC, in a long time – precisely because it does something to take Washington’s hands off what and how the nation’s kids learn.