Yesterday, Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) and Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) introduced the Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success (A-PLUS) Act (H.R. 3149 & S. 1752). This legislation would allow states to opt out of programs that fall under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—formerly known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB)—and repurpose those federal funds on a consolidated basis "to advance the educational policy of the State."
During his presidential campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump promised to return educational decision making back to the state and local level by ending Common Core and promoting school choice. Enacting A-PLUS would go a long way toward fulfilling this promise by transferring approximately $23 billion in funding that currently goes to ineffective and duplicative federal programs authorized by ESSA, to state-run educational programs that better target the needs of local communities.
According to Lindsey Burke, Director of the Center for Education Policy at The Heritage Foundation, the A-PLUS Act would:
Give flexibility to states and local communities, reduce administrative costs and the federal compliance burden associated with accessing federal education funding; and free states and localities from their role as compliance entities subordinate to the federal government, making them accountable to parents and taxpayers instead.
State and local governments finance 90 percent of all K-12 education spending but must comply with burdensome federal mandates and regulations or risk losing billions in federal funding. This federal overreach hinders the ability of state and local governments from engaging in innovative educational initiatives, such as school choice programs like Florida’s Opportunity Scholarship Program.
School choice programs put parents, not federal bureaucrats or unions, in charge of their children's education and make local schools more accountable to parents and taxpayers. The A-PLUS Act would free up states through additional resources and fewer federal mandates, allowing them to pursue student-centered education reforms. Burke writes:
Language within the A-PLUS proposal explicitly recognizes that accountability is strengthened when directed toward parents. Allowing states to put their dollars toward state and locally determined priorities would enable them to respond more directly to parents and taxpayers. Specifically, and with conservative leadership at the helm in most states, it would create space for states to establish and grow choice-based options for families-the ultimate accountability mechanism.
Heritage Action supports this legislation and encourages members of Congress to support it.