The GOP takeover of the House means that Rep. John Kline of Minnesota will become the chair of the Education and Labor Committee, giving the Minnesota Republican huge clout in shaping education spending.
Kline is a deficit hawk and retired Marine pilot who said it’s time to pull Washington out of the nation’s classrooms and stop using billions in federal dollars to bail out state education budgets.
“Washington does not have the money, and the states have got to face their own issues,” said Kline.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he was optimistic the Republican election victories wouldn’t derail the administration’s plans, but conceded: “There’s no guarantee our agenda will continue to move.”
Both parties have agreed on the need to revamp No Child Left Behind. But accomplishing even such a broadly held goal would require overcoming considerable divides between Democrats and Republicans on the role of the federal government in education, along with a different set of splits among Democrats over reforms like performance pay for teachers and charter schools.
In an interview with the AP, Kline voiced opposition to a range of Obama education policies—from the Common Core academic benchmarks to the $4.35 billion Race to the Top—primarily because he opposes federal interference with state and local decisions on education. And while Kline approves of charter schools and performance pay for teachers, he doesn’t want the federal government to be making decisions in those areas.
“We’re going to make changes. How we do it, how big they are, how big the bill is, all those things are to be worked out,” Kline said.