Back to School
By now all the schools in the area have started back, and some have a few weeks under their belt already. The start of a new school year is always exciting, as proud moms and dads post pictures of their children entering a new grade. I was no different. Our children started the 6th and 2nd grades this year, and I couldn’t help but share my bittersweet feelings about my kids growing up so fast on Facebook.
The new school year also serves as a reminder of the amazing work teachers, administrators and school support workers do to help educate our children. Too often their efforts and sacrifices go under-appreciated. So, as this school year begins, I want to say a special “thank you” to all the educators who work so hard to make sure students have the instruction they need for building knowledge and skills for the future.
As your Representative in Congress, I owe it to every student, parent and teacher to do my part in making sure students have the opportunity to receive a quality education. During my tenure in Congress, that has meant working to reduce the federal footprint in education and do away with the top-down, “Washington knows best” approach to schools. I was proud to help deliver the long-overdue rewrite of the “No Child Left Behind” law that has frustrated teachers and parents for years. The new law – The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – rightly puts states and local communities in the driver’s seat for the policy decisions that impact their schools. Also, since the law contains the strong “state authority” provisions I introduced and championed, the U.S. Department of Education can no longer use grants or rule waivers to coerce states into adopting its pet policies.
As you know, I’ve been keeping a watchful eye on how our new education law is being implemented. I want to make sure the clear, bi-partisan intent of Congress to return control to the states is strictly followed. This past week I visited with members of Alabama’s ESSA Implementation Committee during their meeting in Montgomery. Theirs is not an easy task, and I appreciate their willingness to serve the state in this capacity. I offered my guidance in interpreting Congressional intent and made it clear that they should resist any federal attempt to influence decisions, be it from the U.S. Department of Education or even me.
There is good reason to be optimistic. With a new law that grants the state more flexibility and a new State Superintendent soon to come on board, Alabama has an opportunity to reach for new education heights in the coming years. I am grateful to all education leaders from the board room to the classroom for their tireless work to make a difference in students’ lives. Best wishes for a wonderful school year.