Even as Democrats introduced various bills to shore up persistently low-performing schools and to provide funds to ameliorate tax losses in some school districts, the Republican head of the House subcommittee that oversees early childhood, elementary and secondary education filed a GOP-backed bill that will eliminate 43 education programs.
Many of the programs to be eliminated under the bill introduced by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education, were defunded under the 2011 budget compromise, others have not been funded recently and still others are either unfunded or merged into other programs under President Barack Obama’s proposed 2012 budget.
Currently funded programs that would be eliminated include those that focus on arts education ($40 million), expansion of physical education programs ($79 million) and dropout prevention ($50 million). The legislation also ends special funding for Native Hawaiian ($34.3 million) and Alaska Native ($33.3 million) education.
Five other programs that Obama has proposed consolidating – including grants to reduce alcohol abuse ($32.7 million) and elementary and secondary counseling programs ($55 million) – would also be eliminated under the bill.
In a statement on the House floor, Hunter said the bill was the first of several that will come from his subcommittee.
Describing the targeted programs as wasteful, Hunter said, “At a time when approximately one-third of American fourth graders can’t read, we must concentrate on education initiatives that have a track record of putting the needs of students first.”
Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, noted that federal education spending has quadrupled since 1980, “but student achievement levels remain stagnant. … Right now, far too many taxpayer dollars are dedicated to ineffective, redundant K-12 programs.”
Kline said Hunter’s proposals would allow “increased flexibility on the state and local level.”
Rep. George Miller, (D-Calif.) ranking minority member of the committee, criticized the proposals. “The Republican education bill introduced today will not help move our education system to the 21st century and it won’t mean better outcomes for our students.”
He said it does nothing to address accountability, support better data usage or help “bring out schools and out students to the future. … I believe we have to do better.”
Click here to read the committee’s summary of programs that would be eliminated.