Mitt Romney is publicly championing school choice. But he also wants to strengthen the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke has a better idea: allow states to escape it, and shrink the federal role in education by enacting the Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success Act (A-PLUS) instead. As Burke explains:
NCLB is a bureaucratic nightmare that is derided on both sides of the aisle. Instead of trying to improve or strengthen the law, conservatives have championed allowing states to opt out from NCLB altogether. The conservative alternative to No Child Left Behind—the Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success (A-PLUS) Act—would allow states to completely opt out of NCLB while retaining reporting requirements for student subgroups. Instead of the 80 federal programs under NCLB and time-consuming bureaucratic compliance burden, A-PLUS would send federal education dollars back to the states through block grants, which could be used for any lawful education purpose under state statute that would benefit students. It’s a far better alternative than requiring states and local school districts to abide by the overreach that a ninth reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (today known as No Child Left Behind) would produce.
Another benefit of the A-PLUS Act according to Burke is that it would eliminate most of the more than 150 federal education programs operating today.