Reed renews call to re-localize education decisions after opt-out report

Following the review of new data revealing that over 20 percent of students throughout the State of New York opted out of standardized testing last year, U.S. Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) called for education reform late last week that would return curriculum and testing decisions back to state, regional and local officials, removing the federal government’s influence.

“The numbers continue to demonstrate what we’ve known all along: Education policies from Washington don’t work for our local schools,” Reed said. “I care about our kids’ education and believe it’s only fair that parents and local officials have the final say over what goes on in the classroom.”

Reed introduced legislation earlier this year called the EMPOWER (Enable More Parents to Opt-Out Without Endangering Resources) Act. The measure would allow parents to opt their students out of testing requirements, such as those found in the Obama administration’s Common Core standards, without punishing students, schools, teachers or local taxpayers.

The EMPOWER Act would ensure that school districts would not lose federal funding, even if their testing-participation numbers were lower. The number of students opting out during the 2014-15 school year was 15 percent higher than the previous year, with roughly 200,000 fewer children taking exams than were originally expected. Reed’s bill continues to move through the legislative process and has been referred to a committee for additional consideration.

Reed was first elected to represent the 29th District of New York in a special election held in 2010. He took office during the “lame duck” session of the 111th Congress and began his own full two-year term in the 112th Congress in 2011. Reed was re-elected in 2012 to serve a two-year term representing the new 23rd District.