In the Business of Building Schools

Posted: Jun 04, 2008 1:07 PM
This afternoon, the House is scheduled to take up  H.R. 3021, the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act. The goal of this bill is to use federal funds for modernization and construction projects for schools across the country. Once again, we see the federal government substituting its judgement for local parents, teachers, and school boards.

Senior Republican Member of the Committee on Education and Labor Buck McKeon (CA) has been at the forefront of this battle against Washington-controlled school construction, and he does a great job laying out the facts against it:

"The problem is that the federal government has historically had an extremely limited, almost non-existent, role in financing school construction projects, which have been a state and local responsibility. The federal government has deliberately focused its attention and funding on programs that improve student achievement such as funding Title I grants to local educational agencies to help educate low-income and other disadvantaged students and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which helps states and school districts provide special education for children with disabilities.

"The 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act (H.R. 3021) creates a massive and unproven $20 billion federal school construction program that undermines efforts to increase funding for important education priorities such as Title I and IDEA. The bill would undermine efforts at the state and local level to build and modernize schools while significantly expanding the size and scope of the federal government."

Not to mention the fact that the $20 billion cost of this bill wouldn't even come close to the $112 billion price tag that the National Center for Education Statistics estimates would be needed to complete school construction and renovation projects across the nation.  But hey, what's $20 billion of your money haphazardly thrown at a project that we have no intention of completing? This bill is nothing more than feel-good legislating. It's not about education; it's about photo ops.

H.R. 3021 would seriously interfere with the responsibility of state and local agencies to handle school construction. It would drastically impact programs that serve disadvantaged students. And it does all this without having any real and meaningful impact on our educational infrastructure.