Inhofe Votes to Give States and Local School Districts Increased Flexibility in Determining Accountability Standards

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today voted for H. J. Res 57, a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution of disapproval relating to the Department of Education (DOE) final rule regarding accountability and state plans. The CRA resolution overturns a DOE rule that would have stripped state and local school boards of their ability to implement their own plans and accountability procedures when determining appropriate academic standards, quality metrics and identify struggling schools. The measure passed the Senate and will restore these responsibilities to Oklahomans. It will now go to the White House for President Trump’s signature.

 “I have been a longtime advocate for state and local control of education and this is exactly what we protected under the Every Student Succeeds Act that was signed into law in December of 2015, which prohibited the federal government from adding new criteria around state accountability systems,” Inhofe said. “If a law prohibits the federal government from doing something, the answer is not then for unelected bureaucrats to use back channel regulations to go against it. The rule we voted to overturn today was exactly that—a power grab that forced state and local school districts to comply with a one-size-fits-all accountability plan. I am glad that this legislation gives our school systems and educators the flexibility they need back so that they can work to assess schools in a way that makes education work for Oklahoma’s families and teachers, not Washington bureaucrats.”  

 Shawn Hime, Executive Director, Oklahoma State School Boards Association praised the passage of H. J. Res. 57:

 "Oklahoma education leaders at the state and local level understand the values of our communities and the needs of our students better than officials in Washington, D.C. From Guymon to Oklahoma City to Idabel and all across the state, local education leaders are best positioned to help students succeed. We appreciate the leadership of Sen. Inhofe in repealing the regulations, which will restore much needed-local control and preserve the ability of those closest to students to make important decisions about their education."

 Background

 On March 8, Inhofe voted to pass a CRA that will prevent further teacher shortages in Oklahoma.

 On Dec. 9, 2015, Inhofe praised the bipartisan passage of S. 1177, the Every Student Succeeds Act, the legislative update to the No Child Left Behind law.

  • ESSA ended the Common Core mandate.
  • It eliminated the Secretary of Education's ability to require states to obtain waivers from the federal government to continue receiving funding without more burdensome federal requirements.
  • ESSA empowered states to establish accountability systems instead of the federal government. The accountability systems will be state-designed and meet minimum federal parameters, but the federal government is prohibited from determining or approving state standards. This reform will allow states to determine the best way to hold their teachers and school districts accountable to delivering results.
  • The bill reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act through fiscal year 2021.

 On July 16, 2015, Inhofe voted for the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA), legislation to update the No Child Left Behind law by eliminating waivers, strengthening state and local control, prohibiting the federal government from certain enforcement measures, and reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act through 2021.

 On March 10, 2015, Inhofe reintroduced the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act (S.690) with Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and James Lankford (R-Okla.). The legislation would prohibit the Department of Education from issuing regulations or other policies that conflict with the policies of local education authorities. Inhofe first introduced the legislation in the 113th Congress.