House approves ‘Zeldin Amendment’ for schools to opt out of Common Core

Lee Zeldin

Proposed legislation to allow school districts to opt out of Common Core without sacrificing federal funding is one step closer to fruition.

Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) announced Thursday the House of Representatives has passed his “Zeldin Amendment” that aims to make sure school districts that decide to drop the standards won’t be punished by a cut in federal funds. The legislation he’s proposing is an amendment to the Student Success Act (HR5), a draft law the House approved in July that aims to replace the much-criticized No Child Left Behind Act.

“One of the biggest arguments against the repeal of Common Core in New York state has been that New York would lose out on several hundred million — if not billions — of federal dollars,” the congressman said in a press release. “The Zeldin Amendment is the single most effective way for the federal government to permit New York and other states to withdraw from Common Core without fear that there will be any loss of federal funding as a result.”

Mr. Zeldin has described the Common Core rollout as “rushed” and believes the state Department of Education failed to address concerns about the curriculum.

For the past few years, parents and educators have rallied against the state’s latest system of so-called high-stakes testing, which is tied to the controversial Common Core Standards, through a movement known as “opt out” where students refuse to take mandated assessments.

[Related: Did more outspoken leadership play a role in ‘opt out’ results?]

Mr. Zeldin said a preventative measure is also included in the bill to stop the federal government from penalizing states and school districts from dropping the standards.

“Another important aspect in the fight to improve our education system is restoring local control and flexibility to our parents and local educators,” he said. “We must shift the focus in our classrooms from testing to teaching to ensure our children never lose their love of learning.”

Now that the House has passed the final draft of the legislation, proposed bill is expected to be sent to President Barack Obama.

The state adopted Common Core standards in 2010 to qualify for a $700 million portion of the president’s Race to the Top initiative, a federal grant program he unveiled in 2009.

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Photo: Congressman Lee Zeldin. (Credit: John Griffin, file)