Kati Haycock, president of The Education Trust, on the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act
WASHINGTON (July 12, 2011) - ”Under the guise of ‘increased flexibility’ for local educators and policymakers, the latest bill introduced by House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) opens the door to raids on resources intended for - and desperately needed by - some of our nation’s most vulnerable students and the schools they attend.
”The State and Local Funding Flexibility Act would overturn the critical role the federal government plays in providing the extra support that schools need to get some groups of students - like low-income students and English-language learners - to achieve at higher levels. And Chairman Kline has made it clear that this is, indeed, his plan.
”Appearing recently on the Morning in America radio show, he said that, when it comes to education funding, English-language learners and poor kids have come to expect the federal government to look out for them. Apparently, he thinks this is a bad idea because he went on to say: ’My point, and what the superintendents will tell you and tell me, is, Look, we need, for example, to upgrade computers across the whole school and it will help all the kids. I don’t have the money to do that and I need it. But I’ve got money over here for, say, English-language learners …’
”If passed, this bill would give district leaders carte blanche to pilfer money from the budgets of their poorest schools and spend it instead on things that would minimally - or never - benefit the students whom Congress intended to support, turning federal resources into little more than a slush fund. This kind of ’flexibility’ would systematically undermine the efforts of school leaders who are working hard to boost student learning and close the achievement gap. And that’s not the kind of flexibility our schools or our students need.
”States and school districts have a long, well-documented history of shortchanging the schools educating our most vulnerable children. It’s because of that history of inequity that Congress established programs like Title I and Title III in the first place.
”In recent years, we’ve made real progress for our children, particularly those who need it the most. We need to make good on Americas promise of ensuring that every student has access to a good education, regardless of where they live or how much money their parents make. To break that promise, as Kline proposes, would be an enormous step backward - not only for these students, but for the nation as a whole.