Think back to the days of school lunches, study guides and late night homework. Sure the days seemed long and we may have been more excited about the big game that night than algebra, but what we all learned in the classroom gave us the foundation we needed for future education and jobs.

I’ve always believed that decisions are best made at the local level – and this includes decisions relating to our education system. Recently, the House voted to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, commonly referred to as No Child Left Behind. The Student Success Act, which I supported, will restore local control, support effective teachers, reduce the federal footprint and empower parents.

We all know that no one has a greater stake in student success than moms and dads who care deeply about their children’s future. This bill will give parents a stronger voice and allow them to become more hands-on in their child’s education.

Included in the Student Success Act were bipartisan provisions I introduced alongside Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA) that improve the Impact Aid program by increasing efficiency, eliminating subjectivity, and providing greater flexibility to school districts. Impact Aid helps many South Dakota school districts with costs resulting from large amounts of federally impacted land including military bases, Indian lands and federal property.

We are currently operating under outdated policies that make it hard to get the best teachers possible in our schools. Great teachers have the ability to inspire and empower our children each day. This bill will eliminate ineffective federal teaching requirements and will instead switch the focus to classroom results. We should be supporting our teachers, not pressuring educators to “teach to the test.”

In South Dakota, we know and understand that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. The needs of our rural schools are much different than schools in New York City. I believe it’s crucial that legislation take into account the differences between states, and that’s exactly what the Student Success Act does.

Our children deserve the best education we can offer. In the face of stiff global competition for jobs and research opportunities, we expect a lot from our students, teachers and administrators. But with the proper support and accountability, I have no doubt that our students can and will be successful in tackling any challenges they may encounter.

I hope you’ll take a moment to send me an email through my website to share your thoughts on education reform and perhaps share a story about one of your favorite teachers. You can email me at

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