Link Aid to School Standards, Republicans Urge in New Plan
Washington--House Republicans last week released a set of policy initiatives that would set minimum standards for states or school districts applying for federal education aid and would require the development of a national proficiency test for teachers.
Quoting the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson and also drawing on his imagery by terming the United States a "rainbow coalition," the Republicans contend in their pamphlet that despite recent educational improvement, "there is still a need for federal initiatives" in education.
The 70-page booklet, Ideas for Tomorrow, Choices for Today: Policy Choices of the Committee on the First One Hundred Days, was written by the House Republican Research Committee, which is chaired by Representative Jerry Lewis of California. A committee aide said it offers "principles that committees ought to explore but not specific legislation.''
Those principles would:
"As a condition of federal aid, require minimum lengths for the school day and school year, a system for student promotion based on achievement and attendance, and a merit-pay system for teachers."
"Direct the Secretary of Education to develop a model proficiency test, similar to a bar exam, to stiffen teaching standards. State adoption of this program would be voluntary."
Establish an "Academic Olympics" demonstration project in the District of Columbia for students attending inner-city schools.
Use business tax credits and federal work-study funds to increase the nation's corps of mathematics and science teachers.
Establish tuition tax credits for parents with incomes of less than $40,000.
"Allow families to establish tax-deferred savings accounts (similar to individual retirement accounts) for their children's postsecondary educational expenses."
John F. Jennings, the Democratic counsel to the House Subcommittee on Elementary, Secondary, and Vocational Education, commented last week that the gop proposals are inconsistent with previous Republican plans to reduce the federal role in education. "They're talking massive federal intervention. ... On the one hand, [they say] the department should only be a check writer. But on the other, it should be a policeman."--jh