Republicans Propose Unprecedented Flexibility for Education Dollars

On July 7 Rep. John Kline (R-MN), Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, announced The State and Local Funding Flexibility Act (H.R. 2445). If passed this bill would “allow states and local educational agencies to use funds received under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) for additional activities authorized under the law. The goal, according to Rep. Kline, is to reduce the role of the federal government in education by allowing the local education authorities to spend the money on programs they think will best help their students. H.R. 2445 is based on the Rural Education Achievement Program, currently authorized under Title VI of ESEA, that has been widely used by rural school districts to direct federal resources to meet the needs of their students.

“Superintendents and principals from across the nation repeatedly tell me they need more freedom to decide how federal education dollars should be used to support students,” said Rep. Kline. “Washington bureaucrats cannot dictate how money is best spent in the classroom. All those decisions should be left to the teachers, school administrators, superintendents, principals, and state leaders who have an integral knowledge of the needs of our kids. The State and Local Funding Flexibility Act will help get the federal government out of the way of student achievement and encourage more innovative education reforms on the local level.”

The bill summary provides more details on how funds can be reallocated.

States could use funds from:

  • School Improvement Grants (State Administration)
  • Aid for the Disadvantaged (State Administration)
  • Migrant Education
  • Neglected and Delinquent Programs
  • Teacher Quality State Grants
  • English Language Acquisition Grants
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers
  • Education Jobs Fund

School districts could use funds from:

  • Aid for the Disadvantaged
  • Migrant Education
  • Neglected and Delinquent Programs
  • Teacher Quality State Grants
  • English Language Acquisition Grants
  • Indian Education
  • Education Jobs Fund

Activities for which the funds could be used include:

  • School Improvement Grants
  • Aid for the Disadvantaged (State Administration), States only
  • Aid for the Disadvantaged‚ school districts only
  • Reading First
  • Migrant Education
  • Neglected and Delinquent Programs
  • Teacher Quality Grants
  • Math and Science Partnerships
  • English Language Acquisition Grants
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers
  • Innovative Programs
  • Grants for State Assessments, States only
  • Rural and Low-Income School Program
  • Indian Education
  • Early Intervening Services under Section 613(f) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, school districts only

Rep. George Miller (D-CA), ranking member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, said that this bill “would allow chief state school officers and school district superintendents to siphon away money intended for poor and minority students and instead use that targeted funding for nearly any other activity allowed under the Elementary and Secondary Education.”

“This back-door attempt at fulfilling campaign promises to dismantle the federal role in education will turn back the clock on civil rights and especially harm low-income and minority students,” said Rep. Miller. “Pretending like the federal government doesn’t have a role won’t change why it exists. It won’t change the history of separate but equal, but it will endanger our schools, our economic stability and our global competitiveness. The implications of a bill like this are disastrous for students, communities, schools and the future of this country.”

House Democrats released their own ideas for promoting flexibility in education, “Real Relief for Schools: Accomplishing Effective Flexibility.” The report, based on education stakeholder meetings, includes priorities and requests from the education community, including:

  • Provide states with flexibility, funding, and incentives to collaborate with other states and develop state college- and career-ready standards and higher-quality, more-flexible assessments.
  • Provide states with flexibility in determining metrics for such accountability systems‚ including examining student growth‚ and in determining how to identify schools in need of improvement.
  • Eliminate overly burdensome set-asides and certain prescriptive requirements that detract from school improvement efforts and reform.

More information

“Kline Introduces Third Bill in Education Reform Series”
House Education and the Workforce Committee

“Bill Summary: State and Local Funding Flexibility Act (H.R. 2445)”
House Education and the Workforce Committee

“New Republican Proposal Dismantles Civil Rights Efforts in Schools, Raids Funding for Poor Students”
Committee on Education and the Workforce Democrats

“Real Relief for Schools: Accomplishing Effective Flexibility”
Committee on Education and the Workforce Democrats

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