WASHINGTON, D.C. | July 13, 2011 -
The U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce today approved the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act (H.R. 2445) to provide states and local school districts flexibility in the use of federal education funds. This legislation marks the committee’s third in a series of bills designed to reform current elementary and secondary education law.
“Particularly in this tough economy, schools need the freedom to target resources to the programs and initiatives that will have the greatest positive impact on student achievement,” Chairman John Kline (R-MN) stated. “The State and Local Funding Flexibility Act takes a new approach by putting decision-making back in the hands of the state and local officials who can develop effective programs and initiatives that best prepare children for success.”
Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) praised the legislation for finally giving school officials what they have repeatedly asked for – the flexibility to dedicate more resources toward the programs and initiatives that will have the greatest benefit for their students. “This is an effort for child-centered education with local control. This [legislation] eliminates bureaucratic red tape and encourages local innovation to reform public education,” Roby said. “Just this morning, my office received a call from a superintendent in Elmore County, Alabama, offering full support for this Act.”
“The educators I’ve talked to in my district are telling me, ‘Put trust in your local schools. Put trust in your local communities to use the funds that are available to help educate students in the way that they see fit,’” Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN) said. Any implication that these educators would use H.R. 2445 as an opportunity to siphon money away from disadvantaged and minority students, he added, is “short-sighted and somewhat insulting.”
Rep. Glenn 'GT' Thompson (R-PA) reaffirmed Republicans’ commitment to ensuring all students have access to a quality education: “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.” Rep. Thompson continued, “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.”
“This bill does not allow states or local school districts to change the formula allocations or allow states and school districts to ignore the academic achievement of disadvantaged students, English Language Learners, migrant students, major racial and ethnic groups – [it] does not change that accountability. It simply provides states and school districts with the flexibility to rededicate funds,” Chairman Kline concluded, and stressed once again the overwhelming number of school administrators, superintendents and school board members who have voiced their support for the legislation.
Under the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act, state and school district will be granted maximum flexibility in the use of funds received through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the Education Jobs Fund for activities authorized under ESEA. In an effort to protect students and taxpayers, the legislation maintains long-standing monitoring, reporting, and accountability standards, and requires a reasonable annual notification on the use of funds. To read a bill summary, click here.
Several organizations have expressed strong support for the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act, including:
The American Association of School Administrators: “This approach to federal policy, based on trust and confidence in teachers, principals, superintendents and school boards, will result in smarter investment of dollars aimed at helping low-income and minority students reach new educational heights.”
The National School Boards Association: “For many years local school boards have advocated for expanded flexibility in the delivery of educational services. We view H.R.2445 as an excellent step in that direction…It is important to note that educators will still be accountable for the achievement of students from low income families, English language learners and other subgroups. This legislation now provides school districts with the flexibility that is especially needed in times of tight budget constraints to meet those student achievement requirements.”
The Minnesota Association of School Administrators: “The concepts contained within The State and Local Funding Flexibility Act will help to level the playing field for low-income and minority students while providing educators the local control and flexibility that they need to provide support to the greatest number of students.”
Cupertino Union School District: “The State and Local Funding Flexibility Act’s intrinsic trust in the skill, knowledge and motivation of state and local educators holds true to the original purpose of ESEA—helping to level the educational playing field for low-income and minority students—while providing educators the local control and flexibility they need to help those students most in need achieve the skills and knowledge they need in the 21st century.”
Fort Smith Public Schools: “School leaders have expressed continuing concerns regarding the difficulty in crafting local programs using federal funds to maximize their effectiveness. Flexibility in the use of the limited federal dollars will greatly enhance the ability of local educators to get the greatest benefit for the teachers and students we serve.”
Oconomowoc Area School District: “Studies of successful innovations aimed at quality results are almost always accompanied by flexible, personalized strategies. Again, it is that flexibility that educational leaders with an eye on the future desire. [The] State and Local Funding Flexibility Act holds great promise for actualizing our goals while providing a catalyst for the changes needed in our schools.”
To learn more about the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act, click here. To view markup materials, amendments, and an archived webcast, click here.
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