This past Friday while Congress remained in recess, House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) released two draft Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bills that aim to improve accountability, increase flexibility and support teachers in the classroom. According to materials released by the committee, the Student Success Act would provide states and school districts flexibility to “meet students’ unique needs” and strengthen programs for targeted populations. The second draft bill, the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act, aims to grow school choice; support innovative school reform driven by states and school districts, and provide better information to parents on teacher effectiveness. According to the committee, this bill would also eliminate “unnecessary and ineffective federal programs.” Comments are being accepted on both bills.
The legislation would impact federal support for afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs. The 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative would essentially be consolidated with other programs by the draft legislation. TheEncouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act establishes the Local Academic Flexible Grant, described as "a new, innovative program to provide grants to state and local school districts to create and fund initiatives based on their own unique priorities. While ensuring the funds are spent to increase academic achievement as part of in-school or after-school activities, states and school districts will have maximum flexibility to spend their funds on any activity authorized under state law." This new block grant, described in Title III, Part B of the bill, would be authorized at $2.68 billion for Fiscal Year 2013, with each state receiving an allotment based on a funding formula tied to income status of students. Local education agencies (LEAs) would compete for about 85 percent of the funds allotted to each state which could be used for evidence-based out-of-school programs and services designed to improve student academic achievement, including “supplemental student support activities, such as after-school activities, tutoring, and extended day, but not including athletics or in-school learning activities.” LEAs could also choose to fund “classroom support activities, such as academic subject specific programs, adjunct teacher programs, and parent engagement, but not including activities to support smaller class sizes, construction, or to provide compensation or benefits to teachers, school leaders, or other school officials.”
Under the same Local Academic Flexible Grant section of the bill, a second program would be funded with about 13 percent of the funds and would provide “awards to nongovernmental entities to improve academic achievement." Each state educational agency would award grants to public or private organizations, community-based organizations, and business entities for programs for elementary or secondary school students (or both) that will help improve academic achievement. The Afterschool Alliance is developing a letter providing feedback to the committee.
The draft bill would also end the School Improvement Grants(SIG) program and its four turnaround models that committee Republicans have challenged over the past year. The funds saved by ending SIG would go toward increasing funds for Title I, Part A, for which the draft bill authorizes nearly $16.7 billion in FY 2013. The draft measure maintains separate funding streams for migrant education, neglected and delinquent, English language acquisition, rural education, and Indian education programs, but merges them into Title I and allows states and LEAs to use formula funds for them on other Title I programs.
Majority staff produced materials related to the release of the two draft bills. Draft language and a summary of the Student Success Act are available, as are a summary and draft language of the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act.