An important vote on H.R. 5 is scheduled Friday. While the League of Women Voters supports national curriculum guidelines and assessment of skills that compares the student achievement across similar districts, it also supports local implementation of the curricula and skills. The operative definition of the League’s position is that all children should have access to an equitable, quality education. To what extent does this bill have the desired result?
The bill severely cuts the role of the U.S. Department of Education. It also freezes funding until 2021. Finally, it increases support for charter schools and allows Title I funding for low income schools to be moved to other schools. The bill has generated controversy. Specific requirements follow.
If you wish to contact your legislators, a contact list is below.
Changes in Testing Oversight
At issue in this bill is whether the U.S. DOE or states should control assessment of students and accountability of schools and teachers. Actual reduction in testing is not addressed. The bill has some far reaching consequences.
There are other bills in Congress that address the amount of testing now required in schools. Currently, annual testing is mandated by the federal government. The use of test results for grading schools and teachers is required. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is required for Reading and Mathematics skills in 4th and 8th grades. It does nothing to reduce excessive testing in schools.
H.R. 5 requires:
- Testing for all children in grades 3-8 and once in high school each year. (Control of testing is returned to the States. The U.S. Secretary of Education is prohibited from interfering with State policies.)
- Makes Title I funding for low income children available. The money will be moveable to non Title I schools. (Freezes Title I funding at 2012 levels.) The National Association of Principals states that this provision would open the door to giving Title I funds to private schools.
- Limits Title II funds to 10% for class size reduction.
- Increases the funding for charter schools and the expansion of charter management organizations (CMO).
White House Response to HR 5
The White House published “Investing in Our Future” in which it opposed HR 5 for the following reasons:
- HR 5 cements education cuts made in 2012 until 2021.
- Allows states to reduce spending on classrooms and divert money to sports stadiums etc.
- Funding is cut for schools that need it most and transfers it to wealthier schools. (Title 1)
- Eliminating accountability for tax payer dollars. (Moves accountability to the States. States may opt into national consortia. The role of the U.S. DOE is strictly limited.)
A STATE BY STATE CONTACT LIST FOR U.S. REPRESENTATIVES http://www.house.gov/representatives/