The House Education Bill: A First Look at H.R.5

Tuesday, February 3, 2015, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) introduced their ESEA reauthorization bill. The legislation is largely based on a proposal passed by the U.S. House in 2013, and, again, is titled the Student Success Act (H.R. 5).

Student Success Act

H.R. 5, while a different bill, is similar in many ways to the discussion ESEA draft bill introduced in the Senate by education committee chairman Lamar Alexander—particularly as H.R. 5 also reduces the federal footprint and transfers control of the use of federal funds to states and local educational agencies. At the same time, the Kline bill maintains core academic subjects and, under Title III (charter and magnet school) grants, enumerates music and art in allowable uses of funds.

These last two items are an unexpected (and pleasant) surprise for music and arts education advocates, as the Alexander bill eliminated all mention of core subjects. We are hopeful that the door is once again ajar for core subjects; to that end, we are continuing outreach on both sides of the aisle and maintaining our legislative asks in this and other critical areas for music education.

Pending a more detailed analysis, following are several other highlights of the bill:

  • Transfers responsibility for measuring student and school performance to states and school districts;
  • Consolidates more than 65 programs into lump allocations to LEAs called Local Academic Flexible Grants;
  • Includes language preventing the Secretary of Education from coercing states into adopting Common Core or any other common standards or assessments, and places additional restraints on the secretary’s regulatory authority;
  • Strengthens language aimed at improving student performance among targeted populations, including English learners and homeless children;
  • Supports school choice options by continuing support for magnet schools and expanding charter school opportunities, as well as allowing federal funds to follow low-income children to the traditional public or charter school of the parent’s choice (Title I portability). The language included on charter schools was part of a stand-alone bill that passed in 2014 in the House with bipartisan support.

H.R. 5 fact sheets, a detailed summary, and the full text of the bill are all available now on the Education and Workforce homepage, here:

A summary of the Democratic substitute bill can be found here:

A livestream of the markup hearing will be available at this link starting at 10:00 a.m. February 11:

Chairman Kline has an aggressive timeline for H.R. 5, stating Tuesday that he would like to mark up the bill in committee and pass it by the end of the month. While House Republicans have stated that they don’t plan to hold hearings on the bill, the ranking Democrat on the Education and Workforce Committee, Bobby Scott, announced today that he will host a forum this week on ESEA reauthorization. We will continue to provide updates as they occur. Stay tuned!

Shannon Kelly, Director of Advocacy, February 3, 2015. © National Association for Music Education (