Roberts measure aims for state educational autonomy

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) introduced a bill on Thursday that would prevent the federal government from making states adopt educational criteria like the Common Core State Standards, a blueprint to raise math and reading standards.

The Opportunities Created At the Local Level Act would prohibit the federal government from intervening in state education standards, curricula and assessments through incentives, mandates, grants and waivers.

“Setting high standards for our schools, our teachers and our children is the right thing to do, but those standards should be decided in Kansas, without bribes or mandates from Washington,” Roberts said. “We need to get the federal government out of the classroom, and return community decisions back to where they belong – in the community.”

The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers intended for Common Core to be voluntary when the groups introduced it in 2007. The Obama Administration, however, required states to adopt the standards to receive funding under the Race to the Top program and used federal funds to develop Common Core-aligned tests.

“Unfortunately, it is evident that certain waivers from onerous education requirements have been granted only to those states that agree to implement the White House’s preferred education policies,” Roberts said. “In fact,the New York Times has referred to the waiver process as ‘the most sweeping use of executive authority to rewrite federal education law since Washington expanded its involvement in education in the 1960s.’ My bill ensures states retain their authority to determine the curriculum and standards that are best for their students.”