Training for the Race Called Life
By Rep. Kristi Noem
I can’t believe the kids are headed back to school already. Our daughter Kennedy started her sophomore year of college at SDSU and Booker has begun his freshman year of high school, which is hard for this mom to believe. As most parents know, it’s bittersweet to watch them grow up. Bryon and I are so proud of the independent young people they’ve become, but it’s still hard to watch them let go.
Olympic medalist Deena Kastor said about marathon running: “If you’ve got the training under your belt … the races take care of themselves.” That’s how I have always viewed both parenting and education. Both are about training for the race called life.
Late last year for the first time since No Child Left Behind was enacted in 2007, Congress passed into law a bipartisan overhaul of our national education policies. On top of having implementation problems from the start – especially in rural areas – No Child Left Behind had grown outdated. The training provided to our nation’s elementary and high school students simply wasn’t preparing them for the race to come.
The new legislation takes a different approach, however. Rather than staking a larger role for the federal government, the new law minimizes Washington’s influence in classrooms and returns more control to parents and local school districts.
For instance, the new law streamlines a massive and confusing network of federal programs, eliminating or consolidating 49 ineffective, duplicative, and unnecessary programs. Doing so makes the programs simpler to use, while also giving states and local school districts more flexibility to efficiently and effectively improve student learning.
Moreover, we fought to equip parents and taxpayers with the information needed to hold their schools accountable. This will help ensure that every dollar spent makes a direct and lasting impact for students.
Perhaps most notably, the new law strictly and explicitly prohibits the federal government from coercing states into adopting Common Core.
It does this by prohibiting federal employees from incentivizing or in any way forcing states to adopt Common Core. They also can no longer interfere with a state’s standards or assessments. Moreover, the policies and programs federal officials have used to pressure states into adopting Common Core will now be rejected. And any new regulatory burdens on states or school districts to comply with standards, assessments, or state accountability plans are prohibited. To put it simply: those closest to our kids will now – without question – be the ones deciding curriculum and assessments.
We don’t need federal bureaucrats pulling the strings when it comes to educating young people. I am incredibly grateful to the many South Dakota teachers and school administrators who put our students first each and every day. They – along with parents and states – should be empowered to make choices about student success in the classroom. That’s what this new education policy aims to do and I’m confident it will help ensure our students receive the training, if you will, needed for the race called life.