GOP Proposes Unprecedented Flexibility in Ed. Spending

Jul 8, 2011 by

States and districts would get unprecedented leeway to move around federal money under the latest in a series of bills to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. But the measure is already being decried by a top Democrat as a “backdoor” way to dismantle the U.S. Department of Education and as an attack on students’ civil rights.

The bill, introduced today by Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, envisions a very different role for the federal government when it comes to telling states and districts how to spend their money.

Instead of directing states and districts to spend a certain amount on a particular population—say, English-language learners—states and districts could move the dollars out of that program and spend them on a wide range of activities authorized under the ESEA (whose current version is No Child Left Behind).

That would mean that districts could, for instance, move all of the money out of Title I grants for disadvantaged students, and spend it on, say, professional development under the Teacher Quality State Grants program. States and districts would still be required to fulfill reporting requirements for all programs, even if they move all of the money out of them. (For more specifics, check here and here.)

“It has been perplexing to [superintendents] and schools throughout the country that they cannot move money where they need it,” Kline said today on Morning in America, former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett’s radio program.

Kline had hoped to consider the funding bill earlier this year, but he pulled it back, in part to garner support from Democrats.

That support doesn’t look likely now. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the House education committee, said the measure is “an offensive, direct attack on civil rights” that is sure to weaken efforts to ensure that disadvantaged and minority kids get access to educational opportunities.

“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,” Miller said.

“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



,” he said. “The implications of a bill like this are disastrous for students, communities, schools and the future of this country.”

via GOP Proposes Unprecedented Flexibility in Ed. Spending – Politics K-12 – Education Week.

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