States could use funds from:

  • School Improvement Grants (state administration)
  • Aid for the Disadvantaged (state administration)
  • Migrant Education
  • Neglected and Delinquent Programs
  • Teacher Quality State Grants
  • English Language Acquisition Grants
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers
  • Education Jobs Fund

School districts could use funds from:

  • Aid for the Disadvantaged
  • Migrant Education
  • Neglected and Delinquent Programs
  • Teacher Quality State Grants
  • English Language Acquisition Grants
  • Indian Education
  • Education Jobs Fund

Activities for which the funds could be used include:

  • School Improvement Grants
  • Aid for the Disadvantaged (state administration)—states only
  • Aid for the Disadvantaged—school districts only
  • Reading First
  • Migrant Education
  • Neglected and Delinquent Programs
  • Teacher Quality Grants
  • Math and Science Partnerships
  • English Language Acquisition Grants
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers
  • Innovative Programs
  • Grants for State Assessments—states only
  • Rural and Low-Income School Program
  • Indian Education
  • Early Intervening Services under Section 613(f) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act—school districts only

The bill, citing an example, notes that if a state or district receiving formula funds under the Teacher Quality State Grant program wanted to use those funds to purchase new computers or create a new literacy program for English Language Learners, the state or district could do so “unencumbered by federal requirements dictating how federal funds are to be spent.”

“This approach to federal policy, based on trust and confidence in teachers, principals, superintendents, and school boards, will result in smarter investment of dollars aimed at helping low-income and minority students reach new educational heights,” said one of the bill’s supporters, the American Association of School Administrators (AASA). “This change in policy will come with a change in culture, as policy makers and education leaders transition from a nine-year history of lack of trust and confidence to a climate of trust and support.”

Not so fast, others say

Though it might seem like a win for states and schools to use funding as they see fit, critics of the bill, mainly Democrats, say not everyone will be a winner—specifically because the bill would siphon away money intended for poor and minority students.

“This back-door attempt at fulfilling campaign promises to dismantle the federal role in education will turn back the clock on civil rights and especially harm low-income and minority students,” said Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee. “Pretending like the federal government doesn’t have a role won’t change why it exists, it won’t change the history of separate but equal, but it will endanger our schools, our economic stability, and our global competitiveness. The implications of a bill like this are disastrous for students, communities, schools, and the future of this country.”

“The Kline bill is troubling,” said Amy Wilkins, vice president for government affairs and communication at the Education Trust. “For example, a district could spend its Title I dollars on things that have nothing to do with core academics, like CPR training. That’s not the kind of flexibility our schools need to boost student achievement and close gaps.”

Another opponent to the bill is Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who reportedly believes the bill could deprive students with the greatest needs of the support they need to succeed.

Supporters of the bill argue that it contains regulations designed to guard against this possibility.