The US is set to adopt a child education bill that has been criticised by teachers and parents across the country, who say it will mean millions of children won’t have access to quality education.
The bill, known as the Child Education Amendments Act of 2017, was passed by the US House of Representatives last week, but is expected to face an uphill battle in the Senate, where it is currently being considered.
The legislation, dubbed the Children’s Education Amendments, was first introduced in 2005 and has been championed by US President Donald Trump.
It would see parents and educators who currently provide child care receive a $1.4bn (£1.1bn) grant from the US government.
It was initially designed to fund public education, but has since become a national priority for the Trump administration.
In a statement on the Senate’s website, the White House said the legislation would “rebuild our nation’s public education system and ensure every child has access to a quality education”.
It said the bill “would help improve educational outcomes for all children and will ensure that every child is treated fairly and fairly delivered”.
The US has the highest per-pupil spending of any country in the world, with almost $2,000 (£1,858) per student, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Child care has been a big topic of discussion in the United States, with many people concerned that millions of students could lose access to the care they need.
In 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that the right to child care was protected under the US Constitution.
However, the court also noted that states have the option to “opt out” of the US’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that everyone has the right “to the free exercise of religion”.
“Child care can be a powerful tool for the nation’s workforce, but parents should be able to opt out of it,” said Jessica Krosnick, president of the American Federation of Teachers.
“This bill will help to ensure that no child will be left out of an opportunity to learn.”
The bill is expected, however, to face opposition from teachers, parents and other stakeholders.
The American Association of University Women (AAUW), which represents educators, said it was concerned that the bill could undermine teacher-purchaser relationships.
The AAUW, which represents more than 2.4 million schoolteachers, said the Act could “undermine” relationships between teachers and families, which are already “fragile”.
“We believe it will undermine the ability of educators to work with families, to provide support to families, and to provide an education for their children, and we are concerned that this legislation will impact upon these important relationships,” said AAUA-WA Vice President for Education, Kathryn Tisch.
The US Department of Education said it welcomed the adoption of the legislation.
“The Act provides the necessary funding to meet the needs of American parents who care for their child and who want the opportunity to provide quality child care,” said a statement.
“By funding this program, Congress is giving states the ability to ensure the care their children receive is in line with the standards set by the American Academy of Pediatrics and other national experts.”
However, education advocates have argued that the legislation will do little to help parents.
“Parents and teachers want better and we need a national child care bill that is bipartisan and does not impose the costs of child care on children who already have access,” said Krista Durbin, executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Education Officials.
“It would provide families and teachers with the resources to create the best child care environment for their families.”
The US government will also be funding about $100m over the next three years to support states to implement policies and programs that will improve the quality of child education.