The House Education and the Workforce Committee plans to vote this week on three items that could largely determine the course of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization.
Committee members were expected to consider the proposed Student Results Act of 1999, an omnibus bill that contains Title I, bilingual education, a new rural initiative, and other programs for special populations of students.
The panel was also set to vote on the Academic Achievement for All--or “Straight A’s"--Act, a Republican-backed plan to give states much greater flexibility in spending federal K-12 money in exchange for accountability guarantees, and the “Dollars to the Classroom” resolution, a nonbinding GOP resolution that urges that 95 percent of all federal school aid be spent at the classroom level.
According to a draft bill, the proposed Title I language is a bipartisan creation that would, for the most part, stay the course with current law. There are no plans to create a Title I voucher program, for instance. But the draft bill contains a provision to allow disadvantaged children in failing schools to transfer to the public school of their choice, subject to state and local regulations. It would also reduce the percentage of poor students in a school required for schoolwide Title I programs from 50 percent to 40 percent. In addition, the bill would require that, within three years of its passage, all Title I teachers’ aides complete two years of higher education or pass a rigorous local exam.
Becky Campoverde, a spokeswoman for Republicans on the education committee, said the members expected to tackle a wide array of amendments before the vote. House aides continued to work on the bill late last week.
Kati Haycock, the director of the Education Trust, a Washington-based advocacy group for disadvantaged students, rushed to praise the Title I bill, even before it was officially completed. “The bill is, quite simply, good policy for poor kids,” she said in a written statement Sept. 29.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, meanwhile, plans to complete its ESEA legislation and vote on it by mid-month, said Joe Karpinski, the spokesman for Republicans on the HELP committee.