Another school year has begun and the sights and sounds of Friday night lights are filling the air. The beginning of a new school year and the return of high school football also reminds me about the importance of local choice, local control and local leadership over the education of the children raised here in south central and southeast Missouri.

Parents and educators who live here, who raise their families here and who know what’s best for our children should be making the decision about their education, not some bureaucrat in Washington. Our teachers are in these classrooms to teach, not to spend hours pushing paper to comply with federal testing standards which try to compare our children to ones raised in San Francisco. Teachers should be free to educate, not worrying about Washington regulations looming over them as they work to inspire their students.

I was at Jefferson R-7 High School last spring when the school superintendent gave me a MASSIVE stack of papers that the federal government was requiring him to fill out, wasting hours upon hours of his time complying with government rules instead of using his time to focus on the local school district. This kind of interference from Washington in our classrooms is unacceptable.

When I first joined Congress, we were able to pass legislation that would give local control back to our schools. Unfortunately, Senate liberals and the Obama Administration wanted to keep their federal power over Missouri schools. They sent a watered-down version of the bill back to us, taking away the local control provisions I fought so hard for. I voted against this legislation because I know our schools run best when they are managed on the local level, and this bill left too much decision-making power about your child’s education in the hands of Washington bureaucrats.

During my time in office, I have visited schools in all 30 counties which make up the 8th Congressional district. I relish the opportunity to interact with teachers, students and parents to hear more about what issues they are facing in the classroom and how I can help them. Beyond the challenges of keeping up with unrealistic and burdensome federal requirements, teachers consistently tell me they are struggling to keep their classrooms stocked with supplies, with many taking money out of their own paycheck to buy materials needed to help their students learn. Because of this, I co-authored legislation that provided hardworking teachers with a tax cut on the supplies they buy on their own which will help our teachers save money while providing supplies for their students.

At almost all of my stops, I also heard about how much waste was being created by programs like Michelle Obama’s federally mandated school lunch plan. In 2010, then First Lady Michelle Obama along with liberal leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid took their interference from the classroom to the lunch room and unveiled new government rules for how your kids should eat when they are at school, creating more expenses and unfunded Washington mandates for our local school districts – often resulting in schools having to scale back the amount of meals they could afford to serve.

As students get back to school and you head out to enjoy the local high school football game, Congress must get back to work and take action on tax cuts, infrastructure investments, lowering healthcare costs, and improving national security. As we work on these issues, I will continue my fight to keep Washington out of Missourians’ homes, pocketbooks, family farms and children’s classrooms, making sure you and your family can enjoy the freedom of locally controlled schools.

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