By Senator James Inhofe
No Child Left Behind was long overdue for reform, and on July 16, Congress passed the bipartisan Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA), which returns and refocuses education standards back to local communities and its leaders, teachers and parents who know our children the best.
The main problem with having Washington hold the reins of the nation's education system is the fact that education is not one size fits all.
Each state, and each school district, has specialized needs that cannot be mandated by a Washington cookie cutter. In Oklahoma, we want education reform that sets standards created and certified by Oklahomans, not reform enforced by bureaucrats in Washington made possible through Common Core.
Therefore, ECAA updates our nation's education system and gives states and local leaders the power to adopt the standards that they know first-hand will help their children and youth succeed.
I fought for these state standards in my bill, the Local School Board Governance Flexibility Act, and I was glad to see many aspects of it incorporated in the final iteration of the ECAA.
In the end, my colleagues and I worked across the aisle to fight for education for our nation's children. This legislation was needed not only to stop Common Core from taking over the education system, but also to help the marginalized students of America from being overlooked.
Through the ECAA, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and I authored an amendment that garnered the support of our colleagues to help improve the future of some of the most vulnerable youth in our education system. In our amendment, schools will begin reporting on graduation rates specifically for homeless and foster youth to state and district report cards.
Those in foster care and the homeless youth are already navigating very serious situations and, due to the lack of a consistent, stable family unit at home, these children are often lost in the education system without adult guidance or support. By reporting graduation rates of this population of students, local educators will be able to better identify them and work to ensure they successfully progress in our education system.
Another group of marginalized students are those struggling to pay for rising lunch prices.
Over the summer, I introduced the School Lunch Price Protection Act (S.1805), which prevents School Food Authorities (SFAs) from being forced by the federal government to raise meal prices when a school's program can already meet its long-term financial goals.
This legislation will help those families that already find themselves under financial strain. When schools unnecessarily raise the price of school lunches, this potentially means the difference between a child getting a healthy meal that day or going without.
This legislation returns the important decision-making power back to state and local school districts so they can access the needs of their students, and I will be working to get a vote on this legislation this fall.
As schools across the nation start the new academic year, I hope parents, teachers and local leaders can rest assured that in the new Republican majority, we are working to address Oklahomans' desires for a streamlined education system that restores the voice of those who know our kids best -- you.