Over the last decade, the United States Department of Education has become so congested with federal mandates that it has actually become, in effect, a national school board. States must come to Washington for approval of their plans to educate their students.

This congestion of mandates is caused by three things: No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and the administration’s use of waivers. Together, they’ve imposed federal standards for what children must know in reading and math, they’ve coerced some states into adopting Common Core standards, and they’ve imposed federal definitions of how a state should measure school, teacher, and principal performance.

Senate Democrats have reported to the full Senate a plan that would not only freeze these mandates into place, but double down, creating more than twenty-five new programs as well as more than 150 new reporting requirements.

Republicans voted to move in a different direction. We offered a plan to help children in public schools learn what they need to know and be able to do by restoring responsibility to states and communities, and giving teachers and parents freedom, flexibility, and choice.

We call it, “Every Child Ready for College or Career.”

Our plan emphasizes state and local decision-making. It puts Washington out of the business of deciding whether local schools are succeeding or failing.

It rejects federal mandates that create a national school board and prohibits the Education secretary from prescribing standards or accountability systems for states. It continues the requirement that states have high standards and quality tests, but doesn’t prescribe those standards. Our proposal makes it easier for states to offer low-income parents more choice in finding the right public school for their child. And it gives teachers and principals more freedom by encouraging the expansion and replication of successful charter schools.

It encourages states to create teacher and principal evaluation programs, free of federal mandates, and offers states flexibility in spending federal education dollars, while cutting waste.

The Democratic proposal establishes a national school board. What such a proposal really says is they don’t trust parents and they don’t trust classroom teachers and they don’t trust states to care about and help educate their children, and they want someone in Washington do it for them.

We completely reject that. Our proposal places responsibility for helping our children learn squarely where it ought to be — on states and communities, and it does that by giving teachers and parents more freedom, more flexibility and more choice.