WASHINGTON – A year into his tenure atop the U.S. House Education and Workforce Committee, Rep. John Kline has released the House Republicans’ favored approach to overhaul the 2002 No Child Left Behind education bill.
The two bills introduced by Kline on Friday represent a retreat by the federal government in education policy from the expanded role it took on during the presidency of George W. Bush.
The proposed legislation would end federal standards for school progress and teacher qualifications, eliminate and consolidate scores of education programs and give school districts greater flexibility to use federal funds as they see fit.
The Democratic-controlled Senate is also working on a bipartisan education bill of its own. In a statement, Kline acknowledged that his bills were drafts meant to offer “a step forward in the ongoing debate on the best way to improve education in America.”
Among the proposals is a measure to end federal assessment requirements for science education. While the draft bills would end more than 70 existing programs that Kline has described as wasteful, it does propose a new program of Local Academic Flexible Grants that would have few federal restrictions on their use by states and school districts. Ten percent of those funds will reserved for public and private sector organizations to support programs outside of traditional school settings.
The drafts also eliminate requirements that states contribute a specified amount on school districts and schools to be eligible for federal funds, a significant issue in a time when state budgets have come under pressure.
In a sign of continued Republican frustration with the Obama Administration’s Race to the Top program and Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s decision to offer states waivers from the NCLB, the bills also puts limits on the administration to offer similar programs in the future.
Kline’s committee offered no guidance as to when it would begin holding hearings on the bills but both Republicans and Democrats see education as one of the few possible areas of bipartisan cooperation as a major election year gets underway.
More information on the bills is available from the House Education and Workforce Committee’s website here.