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The Senate passed a bill today that would curtail the federal government’s role in education. 

U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., voted for the bill.  Enzi said this was a rare opportunity to shift the balance back to states and local school districts during an Administration that is too often successful in imposing Washington’s will.

“The Every Child Achieves Act ends the emphasis on standardized tests, allowing states to determine how to use federally required tests for accountability purposes. The bill would also reaffirm the states’ role in defining education standards by making it clear that the federal government may not mandate or incentivize states to adopt any particular set of education standards, including Common Core,” Enzi said. 

The bill would also end federal mandates on teacher evaluations and prohibit the federal government from imposing additional requirements on states seeking waivers, according to Enzi.

But Enzi acknowledged that many in Wyoming will be disappointed the bill doesn’t go further.

“I know a lot of folks in Wyoming want the federal government completely out of education.  I share many of their views.  I know they want us to win the war now in one fell swoop and will not be satisfied with us winning this one battle,” Enzi said.  “This is a big return of states’ rights. It still has to survive a conference with the House version and have enough Democrat support that President Obama will realize that a veto wouldn't survive. We will continue working on additional solutions.” 

Under the current No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, the federal government can revoke money sent to states if they don’t follow NCLB mandates. The Every Child Achieves Act changes that by making clear that nothing in the bill is to be construed to preempt a state or local law regarding a parent’s or guardian’s right to not have their child participate in statewide academic assessments. 

Under the Every Child Achieves Act local education agencies would be responsible for notifying parents of their rights regarding student participation in any federally mandated assessments their children are scheduled to take throughout the academic year and it would be up to the states as to whether they pass a law to allow parents to opt their children out of those assessments.  The U.S. Department of Education would not be able to penalize parents, school districts or states if they did this. 

“That is a lot better than the law we have now.  It’s just one of the ways the Every Child Achieves Act gives parents, schools and states more power in education. Our choice is to either get behind legislation that increases parent and state control or insist on everything we want and risk keeping the current bad system in place or even increasing federal control.  The Every Child Achieves Act makes things better,” Enzi said.