Republicans are reintroducing a bill to allow states to redistribute federal education dollars currently targeted at the country’s poorest school districts. The A-PLUS Act, originally crafted by the arch-conservative Heritage Foundation, was first introduced in 2007, and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) have revived it for 2013.
The measure represents the conservative establishment’s answer to the failures of the Bush-era education reforms known as No Child Left Behind. Proponents argue it would close achievement gaps by freeing states to spend federal money allocated to poverty-stricken schools without being bound by the conditions of current education laws. But as a ThinkProgress guest blogger wrote in 2011, the bill would “widen achievement gaps rather than close them” because states are unlikely to maintain funding levels for poor schools if given the freedom A-PLUS provides:
The sad fact is that states don’t always take actions to support their most vulnerable children. Texas officials recently battled over whether education money should be used to actually provide education services to children, a standoff that ended after nine long months. As budget cuts force increasing numbers of states to wrestle with funding challenges, federal Title I funds must remain a stable source of funding for students who have the least access to resources.
Indeed, according to Education Week, states would no longer be obligated to break out educational achievement statistics by demographic subgroups, restricting our ability to even understand what the flaws in our educational system look like. The magazine notes that A-PLUS’ reintroduction comes as House conservatives are already preparing a reauthorization of No Child Left Behind that would seriously curtail the federal government’s role in education.