The New Republican School Choice Bill

House Bill 610: Choices in Education Act of 2017

Betsy Devos, Secretary of Education (Photo Courtesy of Google)

Betsy Devos, Secretary of Education (Photo Courtesy of Google)

Wayne Chan, Photojournalist

Recently Iowa Rep. Steve King proposed a bill to congress, House Bill 610. According to Congress this bill would first establish the Choices in Education Act of 2017, repeal the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, limit the authority Department of Education, and repeal the No Hungry Kids Act.

Supporters of this bill argue that House Bill 610 would actually grant parents and these children of unique necessities more choices, seeing how they can attend voucher schools covered by the government. Critics point to different parts of the bill and the repercussions of such legislative action.

First the bill would eliminate the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. This act was passed as a part of the “War on Poverty.” According to the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the act emphasizes on creating equal opportunities for students of all social and economic classes. For example, under Title 1 of ESEA, it aims to “serves the unique needs of children — kindergarten to grade 12 — who struggle to learn. Title I programs and services provide customized instruction and curricula that helps these students meet academic standards and take an active, engaged interest in what they learn and can do.” Instead of these programs, states would now receive money from the federal government to give to parents to send their children to private and voucher schools.

Naturally, an elimination of this act drew opposition in Congress and from the general public. A teacher and a journalist for the Dallas News said the “proposed ‘changes’” impedes and eliminates children’s opportunities. Other critics concur saying that such a bill could eliminate commodities beneficial to the public school system.

Furthermore, the bill would now give each state funding in the form of block grants. A block grant is funding from the central government given to municipal government to distribute and allocate as they see fit. However, to be eligible for this block grant, according to Congress, a state must “(1) comply with education voucher program requirements, and (2) make it lawful for parents of an eligible child to elect to enroll their child in any public or private elementary or secondary school in the state or to home-school their child.”

Critics of this condemn the new bill for over extending federal control on state education by placing a standard for which states must comply to in order to receive their block grant. BReitbart further reports that Homeschoolers are revolting against this bill because it also gives the federal government unprecedented oversight and control into homeschooling children.

Lastly, it repeals the No Hungry Kids Act. The No Hungry Kids Act simply establishes standards concerning nutritional value that schools are required to meet. Schools must increase the availability of health conscious food choices such as fruits, low fat, or fat free milk.

While most of the opposition of House Bill 610 stems from the removal of ESEA, some critics argue that the repealing of the No Hungry Kids Acts would negatively impact the health culture of school and contribute more to the perpetual state of obesity in United States. Austin Chan said concerning this matter,

“ I care less about this section because I don’t eat fruits.”

If passed, the new House Bill 610 would greatly affect the education system of the United States.