Critics said the bill doesn’t go far enough to help low-income students in the nation’s worst schools.
“This bill will harm students, especially those who are already the furthest behind,” Kate Tromble, director of legislative affairs at The Education Trust, a group that advocates shrinking the achievement gap, said in a statement. “By failing to demand that states set ambitious, but achievable goals and identify and intervene in their lowest-performing schools, this bill returns us to a time when states were free to ignore those students who struggled the most.”
The Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of large companies, also opposed the bill, arguing that it was not strong enough on school accountability.
“We need to ensure the high school diploma can be trusted by post-secondary educators and employers to mean that graduates are ready for college or workforce training and employment,” wrote its president, John Engler, a former Republican governor of Michigan, in a letter Wednesday to Kline.
Frederick Hess, director of education policy studies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said the bill maintained transparency and cut “overreaching federal mandates,” but the federal government still would spend billions of dollars to help low-income and disabled students.
As long as the federal government is dispensing such large amounts of money, “then some language around how those funds are being spent is unavoidable,” he said.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee passed its own version of an overhaul in June, based on views of majority Democrats. It would provide more flexibility, but keep federal oversight. Republicans on the committee offered an alternative that reduces the federal role.