3 Reasons the House Republican Education Bill Should Scare You

Written by Tiffany Miller

While both parties in Congress agree it is imperative to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, currently known as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), that’s where agreement ends. The House Republicans, led by Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), have introduced a reauthorization bill that fails to provide millions of students—who are primarily low-income, English language learners, and students of color—with an opportunity to attend high-quality, equitable schools. No wonder Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and Democrats call this bill the “Letting Students Down Act.”

Beyond the political bickering, what’s really in the bill and why should you care? Here are three reasons:

1: It makes slashing budgets easier. There’s a federal requirement that ensures that states and districts maintain their year-to-year share of education funding. It’s meant to prevent districts from making unprincipled cuts to budgets and to provide schools with reliable annual funding. The House Republican bill eliminates this federal requirement that ensures states and districts maintain their year-to-year share of education funding. Already cash-strapped schools need reliable funding sources. This isn’t new to House Republicans. The education bill they introduced last year included the same provision.

2. It allows for low expectations. The House Republican bill does not require states to set performance targets for schools and it does not require states to measure growth in student achievement. As a result, the bill does little to ensure that the most disadvantaged children are prepared for college, careers and future success. A reauthorized ESEA must ensure that state standards are rigorous and require states to set targets and goals to assess whether they are closing achievement gaps and improving graduate rates. The House Republican bill does neither. In fact, when Majority Leader Cantor’s own state had the flexibility to set its own annual academic achievement targets, Virginia’s initial plan included lower academic targets for Black students compared to their white counterparts. This outraged many and forced Virginia officials to rewrite its accountability plan.

3. It continues inequities in funding. One of the primary roles the federal government plays in education is providing extra dollars to schools with large proportions of low-income students in order to narrow the gap in funding between high- and low-poverty schools. The House Republican bill does nothing to close a loophole that allows many districts to underfund high-poverty schools. This means that millions of low-income students are being shortchanged compared to their wealthier peers, and unfortunately these are also often schools with higher concentrations of minority students. Schools that are 90 percent nonwhite spend $773 less per-pupil than the mostly white schools, meaning that on average, high-minority schools lose out on $443,000 each year. The House Republican bill has an unprecedented opportunity to change this country’s long-standing practice of providing high-need schools with the least amount of resources, yet it does nothing to do so.

This country cannot afford to let down its most disadvantaged youth. The Senate Democrats have offered a forward thinking plan that ensures that every child, regardless of background, has the opportunity to attend schools that prepare them for future success. For more details about how House Republicans got it wrong, and a “smarter, progressive vision for renewing ESEA,” read a new Center for American Progress column by Melissa Lazarín.

This post was originally published at ThinkProgress.

Photo from Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.

trina firey
Trina D. firey4 years ago

We keep going backward!

Austin Munn
Austin Munn4 years ago

This is about what I expected.


Cynthia F.
Cyn F4 years ago

Thanks for sharing this post!

William Eaves
William Eaves4 years ago

Republican, education. Surely these words are the anithesis of each other.

Aaron Bouchard
Aaron Bouchard4 years ago

thank you

Mary T.
Mary T4 years ago

the Republicans do not care about the future of this country, very shameful, more money should be spent on education.

Vivian B.
Vivian B4 years ago

How can they do these things to our children? They have no heart!! Children need to learn and love to learn, given the right environment!
They are just making it to where kids have to go to extreme lengths to just get an education that will help them as an adult!
They don't want anyone smarter than they are so they can run roughshod over people of color!

Angela G.
Angela Gardner4 years ago

The Republican's main agenda is to enrich the 1% the wealthy and the corporations by cutting and eliminating as many programs and services as possible: public education, Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, defunding infrastructure, blocking appointments to National Labor Relations Board (part of their war on workers including busting unions and disasterous trade bills that stripped most manufacturing jobs) and giving as much taxpayer money to the coporations like through Department of Defense, Agricultural and Fossil Fuel subisidies and privately run charter schools so they can claim we are in a budget crisis and have no money for public programs and services.

Linda McKellar
Past Member 4 years ago

They want to underfund schools in poverty areas. This means kicking children already down. Then the kids are are inarticulate and uneducated. The educated who already have the breaks make fun of those who have no advantages through no fault of their own. This perpetuates and enhances the unrecognized "caste" system that endures and is increasing. Then these rich a holes have the audacity to say it's their own fault. That's like tying their legs together and then laughing at them for falling flat on their face in the race.