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House Committee Passes ESEA Funding Flexibility Bill

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce today approved the third in a series of five bills designed to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and reform the current education system.

Chairman John Kline (MN) introduced the bill, the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act, to provide maximum flexibility in the use of federal education funds to states and local education agencies. The controversial measure would allow states and districts to move funds, including Title I grants aimed to aid the most disadvantaged students, to targeted areas determined by states or locals.

Many Democrats contended that funds for the most disadvantaged students would be diverted and that students would suffer. Opponents like Rep. Mazie Hrono (HI) stated that the kind of “flexibility” sought by educators and districts across the country relates to avoiding prescriptive turnaround models and using growth models to measure student achievement, and not flexibility around the use of federal funds.

Republicans countered that states and districts would still need to comply with civil rights requirements. Rep. Glenn Thompson (PA) stated that “In no way does the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act grant any sort of authority to deny equal access to education for all students.” Proponents also praised the bill for putting control back into the hands of states and locals. “This [legislation] eliminates bureaucratic red tape and encourages local innovation to reform public education,” said Rep. Martha Roby (AL).

Several amendments were presented by Democrats on the Committee, but all were defeated. Bipartisan support will need to be reached if ESEA reauthorization is to occur in the near future.

Read the Committee’s summary of the bill here.

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