Rules Committee Sends Ed-Flex Bill To House Floor

Rules Committee Sends Ed-Flex Bill To House Floor

Bipartisan Education Bill Answers Unanimous Plea From Governors for School Flexibility In Time for 1999-2000 School Year

WASHINGTON - "Communities nationwide are one step closer today to increased flexibility that allows them to make the right education decisions for their children," said David Dreier (R-CA), Chairman of the House Rules Committee, today as the Committee approved for House consideration this week legislation providing increased local control and decision making over federal education aid.

Dubbed "Ed-Flex," the Education Flexibility Partnership Act of 1999 (H.R. 800) is designed to expand local education control by stripping away the complicated layers of federal bureaucratic red tape that is associated with federal education funding and allow greater state and local flexibility in using federal funds on locally designed school improvement efforts.

"The American people recognize that teachers, principals and local school boards know better than Washington bureaucrats what works in local classrooms," said Dreier. "Although states and localities provide over 90 percent of education dollars, we know that precious federal resources can help achieve real results toward improving public education if state and local educators are free to creatively use those resources to help kids learn."

"Tomorrow, the House will get this important bill passed in time for communities to plan for the new school year. There will be more than enough time this year to debate other education initiatives," added Dreier.

Ed-Flex does not change federal education funding levels, and is supported by all 50 governors, the Clinton Administration, and groups such as the National Education Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Specifically, Ed-Flex will:

  • apply to every state that qualifies;
  • save scarce educational resources by reducing federal paperwork regulations;
  • if passed this spring, allow school districts to implement their plans prior to the next school year, require that states seeking qualification develop and implement education content standards, student performance standards, and a means of assessing school progress; and,
  • waive most of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, except for civil rights requirements, parental participation and involvement, comparability of services rules, and certain other provisions.

    Currently, Ed-Flex has undergone a trial run in 12 states. In Texas, Ed-Flex has been used to offer school-wide programs to help disadvantaged students and reduce administrative paperwork requirements. Alternatively, Maryland has used the flexibility to reduce student-teacher ratios by almost half for students with the greatest need in math and science.

    The Committee approved a modified open rule that requires amendments to be preprinted in the Congressional Record and sets the general floor debate at one hour and debate on amendments for five hours. H.R. 800 was sponsored by Congressmen Michael N. Castle (R-DE) and Tim Roemer (D-IN).