The US Education Department has proposed sweeping changes to the education system, which could result in tens of millions of students being removed from public school.
The plan, first announced in August, would make it harder for public school teachers to use their professional training to teach children, as well as requiring them to teach subjects such as English as a Second Language and history.
The proposal was announced on Tuesday and follows an investigation by the department’s inspector general, which revealed the US has one of the lowest levels of education funding in the developed world.
The proposed reforms are likely to be controversial in some quarters.
But they are not expected to have an impact on US public school enrolments, which have been on a downward trajectory for years.
“It’s important to note that this report is not intended to be the final word on whether or not the Department of Education is moving in the right direction on public education reform,” Eugene Jarecki, the chief of the inspector general’s office, told Reuters.
“We are working closely with the Department to understand the reasons for these changes and to ensure that they are in the best interests of our students.”
The proposed changes to public school education would include a $1.3 trillion expansion of K-12 education, which would see the number of students enrolled in the nation’s public schools rise from 823,000 in 2016 to 1.3 million by 2022.
A proposed change in the way teachers teach children could see teachers and students in the classroom become “partners in education”.
“We have seen that in other countries, like Denmark, Finland and Canada, teachers are the primary source of funding for students,” said Jarecki.
“In the US, teachers can receive more than 50% of their compensation from government programs and other sources, and students are receiving the other 25%.
We think that’s a fair balance between the needs of students and the needs at the state level.”
The plan would also include a proposal to require that all students in private schools receive at least 90% of the state funding that public schools receive, which will be funded through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Teachers would be required to report all their hours spent teaching children to the Federal Education Agency (FEMA), which would have a greater role in ensuring students receive a good education.
“The proposed rules would require schools to make a formal and timely assessment of teacher quality, to assess teacher performance and to provide students with meaningful feedback about their teachers’ evaluations,” Jadee Gattis, a former US Education Secretary under Barack Obama, said in a statement.
“This process would also ensure that teachers receive a fair share of the funds that are allocated to schools, and that the federal government is doing all it can to ensure equitable funding of education.”
The department also announced plans to create a new federal school assessment, which will include a more rigorous set of standards to ensure teachers are getting a good quality education.
The new approach to teacher evaluation will likely face opposition from some in Washington, where Democratic politicians have already proposed legislation to end the use of teacher evaluations as a benchmark for student test scores.
“We are committed to making the testing of teachers and their teachers as transparent as possible, and I support that objective,” Democrat Representative Jared Huffman said.
“I believe the testing is an important way to evaluate teachers and I believe that it can be used to improve teacher retention.”
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Nick Macfie)