House GOP rolls out conservative education bill
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor made a fresh push Tuesday to pass a massive rewrite of No Child Left Behind, as Republicans try to roll back the controversial education performance standards of the past decade while touting conservative priorities like charter school vouchers.
Cantor (R-Va.) said last week that he wanted action quickly on the Student Success Act, which would consolidate dozens of federal programs for K-12 education and end federal performance goals for schools. It would also block the Education Department from encouraging the adoption of common education standards, such as the Common Core.
The House GOP bill won’t get much — if any — Democratic support, and it’s going nowhere in the Senate. But it represents an effort by Cantor and Republican leaders to start laying down their policy vision for education as Congress tries again to rewrite a wide swath of federal education policy law.
At a charter school in Northeast Washington, where Cantor and the Republican leadership of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce met Tuesday with parents and teachers, the majority leader also promoted an amendment that would create a public school voucher system. States could choose to allow children to transfer to other public schools or public charter schools and take federal aid money for poor and disadvantaged students with them.
The amendment might make the bill more palatable to conservative Republicans, who have been skeptical about the legislation. The Heritage Foundation said the bill in its current form has “serious policy limitations” – in part because it didn’t allow students to use federal aid at a school of their choice, public or private. Cantor’s amendment would allow the money to be used at public schools, but not private schools.
“If parents have choice, kids have opportunity,” Cantor said at the press conference at Two Rivers Charter School. “I believe strongly in our public schools and the role they play in the future of this country.”
The Rules Committee will consider Cantor’s amendment – and 75 others – Wednesday afternoon, and Cantor said he hoped for a vote “as early as this week.” He and Rep. John Kline, chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, pushed away concerns that the bill wouldn’t pass muster with the House’s more conservative Republicans. It’s likely to go nowhere in the Senate, which has written its own version of the education overhaul, and gain little, if any, support from House Democrats.
“We have pretty strong support across the conference,” Kline said.