I am the father of three children who graduated from the Tupelo public school system and went on to public universities, and my wife works for the University of Mississippi. I understand the important role education plays in our children’s futures and in our state’s economic development, and I believe education should be a top priority for any elected official.
In 2001, President George W. Bush presented a plan to Congress setting a system of goals and standards for our nation’s education system. After many hearings and much Congressional debate, the basic tenants of this proposal became the foundation for the bipartisan No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, which President Bush signed into law on January 9, 2002.
I supported NCLB at that time and still agree with its premise that parents and teachers need to know how students are progressing. However, there are many provisions of the law that need to be revisited and improved. Congress is expected to reauthorize NCLB this year, and we will have the chance to address those concerns as a part of reauthorization. It is important to make sure the federal government is playing a constructive role in our education system and not building an inflexible, unworkable bureaucracy.
I believe the federal government should place an emphasis on education, but most decisions should be left to parents and state or local officials. Whatever steps we take on a national level must empower local school administrators, teachers, and parents to make the best decisions for their students and children. It is important that state and local governments maintain the flexibility needed to direct funding to the greatest needs in their community.