WASHINGTON, D.C. | July 13, 2011
The amendment in the nature of a substitute makes some minor technical changes regarding the short title, and inserts new language to reiterate that states and school districts must comply with existing Title I school allocation and civil rights requirements. I want to be very clear that states and school districts will still be expected to comply with all civil rights requirements just as they currently do – 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.
Republicans on this committee are determined to make sure all students have the opportunity for a quality education. But we also understand that there is no single education approach that works for all students, across all states. The State and Local Funding Flexibility Act recognizes the unique challenges faced by each school, and allows states and districts to redirect federal funds to fulfill the priorities and initiatives that will have the greatest impact on student achievement.
My colleagues on the other side of the aisle have expressed concern about the effect the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act could have on various student populations. Providing additional flexibility in the use of federal education funds will not harm any subgroup of students. Instead, we expect all students – regardless of race and ethnicity, or socioeconomic status - will benefit from the increased opportunities this legislation provides school districts and state officials to focus federal resources on the most effective programs.
Not only does the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act provide states and school districts the freedom to dedicate more federal dollars to help underserved student populations, it also offers the opportunity to increase federal funding for initiatives that benefit all students, such as new technology, additional after-school programming, and professional development for teachers.
Across the nation, school officials have asked for flexibility to shift federal resources based on the needs and makeup of their student populations, not the whims of bureaucrats and arbitrary federal requirements. The State and Local Funding Flexibility Act offers school districts new opportunities to make decisions about the best way to fund their schools and improve student learning.
Consider a school district in California with a high number of English Language Learners. These students need special programs and initiatives to help them compete with the academic achievements of native English-speaking students in their grade level. Despite some critics’ claims, these students will not be left behind under the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act. On the contrary – this legislation will provide this school district the option to spend more of its federal education funds on initiatives to help these children succeed, such as more professional development to make their teachers more effective, special software programs, or additional tutoring opportunities.
Under the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act, school districts can, for the first time, use federal resources from an underutilized program to support additional services for struggling students authorized under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Or an urban school district could choose to repurpose federal funding to improve programs for at-risk students, including homeless or delinquent children. A rural school could allocate additional funds for online coursework or computer labs. What is truly important is that this legislation puts the funding decisions in the hands of the state and local education officials who have an integral knowledge of the unique needs of their students.
No one knows more about the needs of America’s students than the teachers and school administrators who work with them on a daily basis. Washington can only do so much to support students before our efforts become counterproductive. My Republican colleagues and I know the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act will help states and school districts make the right choices that benefit all students.
However, as Chairman Kline stated earlier, this legislation does not in any way excuse states and school districts from the reporting, monitoring, and accountability measures required under current elementary and secondary education law. Should H.R. 2445 become law, we will continue monitoring how federal funds are spent to ensure every student has access to a quality education.
I strongly urge my colleagues to lend their support to the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act, and join our efforts to provide the flexibility necessary to give our nation’s students access to the education and opportunities they deserve.
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