Lesko introduces bill to allow states to set education policy

U.S. Rep Debbie Lesko, R-District 8, introduced her first bill since being sworn into Congress. House Resolution 6259, the Make Education Local Act of 2018, would allow individual states to submit their own education plans, known as a State Management Decision, to the Secretary of Education. After approval by the Department of Education, all federal funding programs would roll into one pot of money for the state to implement its individualized education plan.
“Our children are our future, and it is important that each child have access to high-quality education free from Washington mandates,” Lesko said. “Arizonans know their schools better than any bureaucrat. My bill will allow individual states to submit their own education policy plan to the Secretary of Education to free up dollars so funding will go directly to students and teachers instead of being spent to comply with federal regulators.
“This bill is just the first step in improving and strengthening education in Arizona classrooms. I will continue to work with local leaders and education advocates to do more to improve education for all of our students. We are committed to fixing our entire education system so that it works for each student.”
Following the introduction of H.R. 6259, several policy and school organizations and elected officials in Arizona, including Arizona Parents for Education, Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Legacy Traditional Schools, and Arizona State Sen. Sylvia Allen, expressed their support for the bill.
Not everyone is as positive as those mentioned above.
Sandra Dowling, one of Lesko’s opponents in the Republican primary and longtime Arizona state superintendent of public instruction, said she could not comment because she personally has to see everything in the bill before she responds. She said she had been going to the congressional website every day for the past four days and the bill was not yet posted.
Dowling said she even called state education agencies to ask if they had read the bill, but the people she wanted to talk with were out of town, and their secretaries told Dowling they had not read the bill either.
The frontrunner in the Democratic primary, Hiral Tipirneni, had the following remarks:
“I’ve been a staunch, vocal supporter of our public schools and teachers, whereas Rep. Lesko has repeatedly supported efforts to gut public education by transferring our tax dollars to private schools. To be fair, we’ll need to actually read H.R. 6259, whose content we haven’t seen yet, before making any comment on it.”
Original cosponsors of H.R. 6259 include U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, R-District 5, U.S. Rep. Paul A. Gosar, R-District 4, U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, R-District 2, and U.S. Rep. David Schweikert, R-District 6.
In her press release, Lesko said H.R. 6259 would put states such as Arizona back in the driver’s seat of their education policy and reduce federal intrusion and regulation on public schools. According to the release, the bill directs federal funding right to students and teachers instead of being spent to comply with federal regulations. It would also require each state to focus on student achievement and outcomes, while letting the states figure out how to do that best and how to spend those dollars. 
Specifically, Lesko’s press release said the bill:
• Allows states to submit a State Management Decision to the Secretary of Education that is valid for between five and 10 years.
• A State Management Decision allows a state to be waived from all provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act and allows for that state to consolidate all federal education dollars into one single grant.
• Protects the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act dollars from being consolidated and provisions of the law from being waived.
• Increases transparency by requiring a state in its State Management Decision to outline its plan for using the dollars and how it will inform parents of student achievement.
• Ensures accountability by requiring participating states to publish a yearly report of student performance and a description of how the state used federal funds to improve academic achievement and a yearly report with information for the public regarding other high-quality school options and choices.
• Gives states the flexibility to financially account and consolidate federal education dollars in any way they choose.
As of July 10, text was available for review and voters can view the complete bill at the following websites:
https://legiscan.com/US/drafts/HB6259/2017
https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/6259/text?r=50.

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