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Philadelphia Times Leader - Best Education Decisions Begin at the Local Level


Date: Jan. 31, 2016
Location: Washington, DC

By Rep. Bill Johnson

As a product of America's public school system myself, I know the critical role public education plays in the lives of children, and preparing them to achieve the American Dream. But today, the federal education system is failing our kids.

Washington bureaucrats and politicians don't know what's best for our children -- parents, states, and local school boards and teachers do. Children in Tuscarawas County, and other places throughout Appalachia, have very different education needs than children that go to school in places like urban Chicago or rural Oklahoma.

Over the last five years, I've been invited to speak to concerned parent groups, and I've held numerous town-halls on the subject of "Common Core." Over and over, I hear about the lack of local control. I agree with these sentiments, and I stand firmly against "one-size fits all" education policy. I believe that part of the reason we are falling behind many other industrialized and developed countries is our top-down approach -- an approach that seems to becoming more and more entrenched.

This is one of the reasons that I recently voted for the "Every Student Succeeds Act" -- legislation that begins chipping away at federal overreach, and starts restoring control of education to its rightful stewards: parents, states, and local teachers and leaders. But, we must do more to remove Washington from the education business.

It should be remembered that the Department of Education didn't exist until President Carter signed legislation creating the bureaucracy in 1980. Somehow America developed the most powerful economy in the world, won two world wars, and put a man on the moon before the heavy hand of Washington took over our education system. We're pretty smart people.

Teachers work hard -- and are often unappreciated. I see this firsthand every day with a son attending a public middle school. I still remember my favorite teacher, Mrs. Taylor, and the powerful impact she had on my life. But, sometimes, teachers fail to teach their students -- when they do, they shouldn't be protected by their unions.

In the private sector, if you aren't doing the job, then someone who can is brought in. That's why I support parental options, such as charter schools. They aren't the right option for everyone -- but for some parents, they are the best choice. Educational opportunities shouldn't be determined by a child's zip code; rather, our children deserve a quality education regardless of where they reside.

The American people want better for their children than the status quo. Furthermore, each student has different needs, and every student deserves the opportunity to gain the skills necessary to succeed in this global economy. I'll continue to support policies that restore local control, reduce the federal footprint in our classrooms, support and reward good teachers, and empower parents to have a louder voice and more choices in their children's education.

Reach Congressman Bill Johnson (R-Marietta), 6th District (includes all of Carroll and Harrison and part of Tuscarawas counties), by mailing 1710 Longworth HOB, Washington D.C. 20515; phone 202-225-5705; fax 202-225-5907; to send email visit his website athttp://billjohnson.house.gov/contact/.