We seek to give our children the very best: the best doctors, the best food and the best care. Why, then, would we settle for anything less than the best in terms of education for our future generations? After spending $38.1 billion in 2006 on education initiatives nationwide, hundreds of schools are still falling below their respective state educational standards, and thousands of children are missing out on the opportunity for a quality education. We need a program that will meet each individual school at their own level and allow them to design programs to best meet the needs of their students. The Academic Partnerships Leads Us to Success (A-PLUS) Act, introduced by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) and Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Michigan), offers such a tailored approach for the betterment of our schools and our students.
The A-Plus Act, S.893, and its House counterpart, H.R.1539, provides schools with greater flexibility to create educational programs to best suit their individual needs. Currently, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program, a common nickname for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), is up for reauthorization in the House. Passed in 2001, this federal initiative has proven deficient, highlighting the fact that educational systems and decisions should be made by parents and not bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.
One size does not fit all in the educational arena. The A-Plus Act allows states and localities to take the reins in decision-making for their schools and their students. Each school knows its own students and is more likely to have a better understanding of what their students need to improve educational quality. The federal government has not been able to comprehend the differences and challenges schools face from California to Texas to New York. They are not able to hold schools accountable and cannot effectively push for school progress.
Pouring federal dollars into schools has not yielded stellar results. Through American tax dollars, we spend more than $10,000 per student, and we continue to lose ground. In math, American 15-year-olds ranked 21 out of 28 countries, and in science, American students were rated 16 out of 28.
The A-PLUS Act allows individual states to enter a five-year performance agreement with the Secretary of Education, based on their own determination of student proficiency and assessment of how to boost academic achievement and implement education reforms. States and communities will be held accountable to the Secretary of Education and the public for these agreements by publishing annual reports including student performance data and a description of how the State has used federal funds to “improve academic achievement, narrow the achievement gap, and improve educational opportunities for the disadvantaged.” These reports must be made available to Congress, to the Secretary of Education and to parents and the general public; this allows the community to take a hands-on approach in ensuring that their children receive a quality education.
According to Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, “Until parents have full freedom to place their children in the school of their choice (public, private, charter or home) the A-PLUS Act steps in the gap. It would allow flexibility for state and local authorities to decide what may work best for their students rather than bureaucrats in DC hamstringing what schools can and cannot do.”
Parents and children deserve the very best. Parents deserve the opportunity to make the best choices for their children’s education, and children deserve the best environment to learn and grow as they attend school. The A-PLUS Act helps to bring more control over the decision-making to families, localities and states, where individual students and individual circumstances can be taken into account so children can receive the personalized attention they need.
Call your Senators and Representatives to urge them to support the A-PLUS Act!
Rep. Hoekstra’s A-PLUS Act, H.R. 1539.
- House Switchboard: 202-225-3121
Sen. DeMint’s A-PLUS Act, S. 893.
- Senate Switchboard: 202-224-3121