To the editor:

In January, the Choices in Education Act of 2017 (H.R. 610) was introduced in the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C to “distribute federal funds for elementary and secondary education in the form of vouchers for eligible students and to repeal a certain rule relating to nutrition standards in schools.”

This bill is designed to both repeal the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 and certain established nutritional standard set for school breakfasts and lunches.

ESEA was passed by President Lyndon B. Johnson as means to ensure equal access to a quality education for all students, especially those living in poverty, while emphasizing high academic standards and accountability in public schools. The ESEA provided federal funds for schools to use on professional development for teachers, teaching materials, resources to support educational programs (for example programs to help struggling readers) and to promote parent involvement in schools.

The ESEA has been re-authorized every five years since it was originally passed and provisions have been added to increasing funding and improve support for all students including those in high poverty areas and have English as a second language. It was re-authorized with bipartisan support under President George W. Bush as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and most recently by President Barak Obama as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Each of these revisions has maintained the purpose of the original act by promoting access to high quality education for all of our nation’s children.

The Choice in Education Act of 2017 intends to not only abolish the ESEA but also some of the nutritional standards established for school breakfast and lunches. It is designed to eliminate rules that require schools to increase the “availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat free milk in school meals; reduce the levels of sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat in school meals; and meet children's nutritional needs within their caloric requirements.”

This elimination of nutritional standards for fresh fruits and vegetables, lower levels of sodium and fats, and keeping meals within certain appropriate caloric requirements is ironically to be called the No Hungry Kids Act.

The Choice in Education Act will replace both ESSA and the nutritional standards with “block grants to qualified states.”

In order to qualify for “block grants” states must establish “an education voucher program.” To receive funds for this education voucher program states must “distribute a portion of funds to parents who elect to enroll their child in a private school or to home-school their child.”

The Choice in Education Act will take the federal funding the is currently designed to ensure an equal access to a quality education for all students with an emphasizes high academic standards and accountability in public schools as well as the nutritional standards for school lunches and redistribute that funding for a voucher program for private schools and home-schooled children. The Choice in Education Act of 2017 takes funding and nutritional requirements away from poor students and give it to private schools in the form of vouchers.

For sources for this article and more information on the Elementary and Secondary Act of 1965 visit http://socialwelfare.library.vcu.edu/programs/education/elementary-and-secondary-education-act-of-1965/

For sources for this article and more information on the Choices in Education Act visit https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/610/all-info

If you have concerns about this proposed law, contact Rep. Brad Wenstrup. His contact information is: Washington, D.C. (202) 225-3164, Anderson Township Office (937) 474-7777, or email https://wenstrup.house.gov/contact.

Sincerely,
Katie Lawless Frank
Hillsboro