Student Success Act

Floor Speech

Date: Feb. 27, 2015
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: K-12 Education


Mr. ROKITA. I thank the chairman for his leadership throughout this entire push.

What do I mean by push? Madam Speaker, I mean the fact that for the last 7-plus years No Child Left Behind--the current Federal law of the land with regard to K-12 education in this country--has gone unrenewed. And for many of us, in a very real sense, that is just as well. Because after a decade of living under No Child Left Behind, and more importantly, our children being taught under No Child Left Behind, we realized where its shortcomings are and where we need to go next.

So we have worked on this product. And unlike the Democratic substitute, Madam Chair, that we are just now hearing about, this product has been 4 years in the works. In fact, it is so well-tuned and so well-reviewed that it passed this House in the last Congress. Now, finally, with a Republican Senate, we have a chance to move real reform that puts power back in the hands of our parents, teachers, local leaders, and local taxpayers so that we can again make the child the most important thing in the school.

We are sort of shooting with real bullets here. Again, we can get a product to the Senate. We can get that product to conference and then to the President's desk. So we are not talking in thin air here. Yet this Democratic substitute really does just that.

Introduced just a few weeks ago during our markup, it seems to be an amalgamation of every idea that most parents and most teachers and most local taxpayers and entrepreneurs have found to be wrong with education ever since the Federal Government has been involved.

And when I say wrong, it comes with a good deal of data and a good deal of evidence that says no Federal bureaucrat knows our kids better than that kid's teachers and parents and local school administrators.

So the whole theme of the Student Success Act is to trust those people, knowing that they care about their kids just as much and, in probably every case, more than we do here in Washington.

As the father of a 7-year-old boy with disabilities and a 5-year-old boy, I know that is how I feel. We need to act now to reverse the Federal mandates under No Child Left Behind and to stop the Obama administration from coercing States into adopting its preferred education reforms, including adoption of these Common Core standards.

If we fail to act, the Secretary of Education will continue imposing his will on schools unilaterally. In essence, Madam Chair, a national school board.

We have been working on this effort, like I said, for more than 4 years. Our goal from the beginning has been to roll back the role of Federal Government and return to State and local leaders the responsibility to deliver a quality education to their students.

Now, some may say the Student Success Act certainly isn't perfect--and, as we know, no piece of legislation is--but we have heard over the years the concerns, I would say, of every type of stakeholder involved in this debate, and we found the right way forward with the Student Success Act. Everything in the Student Success Act is significantly better than anything in current law.

And so the question is to my colleagues--certainly my Republican colleagues, but also my Democratic colleagues: Do you want to move the ball forward or not? Do you want to do something, or not, for our children? Or, do you want the Department of Education to become this Nation's school board?