MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota congressman who chairs the U.S. House education committee proposed Thursday to cut some strings that come with federal education money, but his new bill drew quick criticism from the U.S. Department of Education.
Republican Rep. John Kline introduced the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act, which is the third in a series of bills to overhaul the No Child Left Behind education law. The legislation would allow schools to take money intended for one educational purpose, such as for poor or migrant children, and spend it on another school priority, such as teacher training or reading programs.
“Washington bureaucrats cannot dictate how money is best spent in the classroom — those decisions should be left to the teachers, school administrators, superintendents, principals, and state leaders,” Kline said in a news release.
The bill, criticized by Democrats, requires annual notification of how the money is used and continues to hold schools accountable for education outcomes, according to a fact sheet distributed by the committee. But the bill didn’t get any Democratic co-signers, which U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan noted in his criticism of the bill.
“This bill doesn’t fix the real problems with (No Child Left Behind) and runs the risk of short changing students with the greatest needs. We need a true bi-partisan reform bill for the president to sign by the start of the school year,” Duncan said in a written statement.
California Rep. George Miller, the senior Democrat on the committee, said the bill would fundamentally change the federal government’s role in education for the worse.
“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 in a prepared statement.
The No Child Left Behind law, which was passed in 2001, has been widely criticized by those who say it brands schools as failures even as they make progress, discourages high academic standards and for encouraging educators to teach to the test.
There’s bi-partisan support for an overhaul. However, Republicans and Democrats have different ideas about what sort of reforms should go into the law and how long writing a new bill should take.
Duncan has pushed the U.S. House to finish before the academic year resumes in the fall, but Kline has said the committee plans to work through the fall.
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