JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Dec. 8, 2015) – A bill prefiled for the 2016 legislative session would require the Missouri legislature to review and approve the use of federal funds in education, setting the stage to limit federal influence on the state’s public schools.

Rep. Tila Hubrecht (R-Dexter) prefiled House Bill 1367 (HB1367) on Dec. 1. Oftentimes the federal government places conditions on educational grants and funding provided to states. Under the proposed bill, the legislature would have to approve any such conditions before the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education could accept any federal funds.

HB1367 would also require the state education department to get approval from the House and Senate committees on secondary education before submitting any plan to any federal agency.

Finally, the state education department would also have to get committee approval before implementing any strategic plan or improvement effort.

Together these provisions would make the state educational bureaucracy more accountable to the representatives of the people and would set the stage for the legislature to limit federal influence in the state’s educational system by rejecting its conditions and mandates.

As it stands now, the education department can apply for federal grants and funds without legislative approval. Currently, about 10 percent of the state’s education budget comes from the federal government. If HB1367 becomes law, the legislature what have to approve all of the requirements, conditions and mandates attached to various federal funding programs. That means it could simply reject them.

For example, under the Title I program that provides funding to low-income schools, the state must make adequate yearly progress on state testing and focus on best teaching practices in order to continue receiving funds. If HB1367 becomes law, the legislature will have to approve these “best teaching practices” and the testing requirements. If legislators find the requirements onerous, they could refuse to approve them.

Virtually every federal program comes with some attached conditions. Passage of this legislation would empower the legislature to eliminate them completely. While HB1367 wouldn’t nullify federal mandates in-and-of itself, it would certainly set the stage to do so. It would move the funding into the sunlight and put a stop to state bureaucrats making deals with the feds in back rooms.

This bill represents a good first step toward kicking the federal government out of Missouri’s educational system. After all, it has no authority to involve itself at all. Education does not appear anywhere within the federal government’s delegated powers, and was always intended to remain the purview of states and local communities.

Sadly, states have sold out for the cash and invited the federal government to meddle in their educational systems. HB1367 sets the stage to kick it out of Missouri.

Mike Maharrey

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