News: Quick Takes

Foxx pushing feds to limit rules swamping local schools

Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-5th District (Photo from Rep. Foxx's website)
Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-5th District (Photo from Rep. Foxx's website)

U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-5th District, wants federal bureaucrats to quit swamping states with education mandates that are left over from the Obama administration.

In a recent interview, Foxx, the new chairwoman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, told McClatchy media that federal education policies should come only from lawmakers — not bureaucrats who make rules outside of Congress.

The Obama administration enacted many of those mandates, under the guise of “dear colleague” letters from the U.S. Department of Education and the department’s Office of Civil Rights, which shoveled out rules that had no legislative authority.

Such rules aren’t acceptable, Foxx spokeswoman Sheridan Watson told Carolina Journal.

As much as possible, decisions should be left to states and local school districts, Foxx said.

“The congresswoman wants to ensure no administration makes policy unilaterally, but instead works with Congress in changing law and implementing the law through the appropriate regulatory process,” Watson said.

Foxx also told McClatchy that she would sack the U.S. Department of Education for good — if it were possible.

Reforms will be tough, notwithstanding Foxx’s clout in Congress.

Funding for the education department is decided outside her committee’s jurisdiction. House and Senate appropriations panels will choose how much money goes to the agency.

However, Foxx and other education reformers may use Congressional Review Acts to scrap some of the mandates that are cramping state-based education policies. Such action also would squelch those rules permanently.

A Congressional Review Act has been used once this year.

Foxx spearheaded the effort, and President Trump signed the bill, overturning two regulations. One required states to file school accountability plans with the federal government. The other imposed a performance ratings system for local teacher education programs.

Democrats opposed the action.

“The federal government needs to require certain things. … If you don’t have some [regulations], the law won’t get implemented,” said Rep. Alma Adams, D-12th District, who sits on the House education committee.

The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 is of particular concern to Democrats, who say deregulation would harm low-performing schools.

Foxx disagrees. She backed ESSA when it passed but has vowed to oppose regulations from Washington that undermine local flexibility.