Bipartisan Bill Authorizes Grants for Systemic Reforms

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WASHINGTON--The Democratic chairmen of the House education committee and its K-12 subcommittee have joined with the full committee's senior Republican in sponsoring legislation to rival President Bush's America 2000 school-reform proposal.

The proposed "better education for all students act," HR 3320, was introduced by Representative Dale E. Kildee of Michigan, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Elementary, Secondary, and Vocational Education, and is being co-sponsored by Representatives William D. Ford of Michigan, the chairman of the full Education and Labor Committee, and Bill Goodling of Pennsylvania, the panel's ranking Republican.

The bill would authorize the spending of $700 million in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 and unspecified amounts through fiscal year 2002.

Funds would be provided in fiscal years 1992 through 1994, however, only if existing elementary- and secondary-education programs were funded at a level equal to the appropriation for the previous year, plus an adjustment for inflation.

Past Results Limited

"The reforms in education of the last 15 years have achieved good results, but these efforts often have been limited to a few schools or to a single part of the educational system," the bill states. "Fundamental change in the entire system of education is necessary and must come about through comprehensive, coherent, and coordinated improvement."

Mr. Goodling introduced the America 2000 plan in the Congress last spring as a courtesy to the President. However, he has expressed dissatisfaction with several parts of the plan, most notably its strong emphasis on parental choice. ('See Education Week, July 31, 1991 .)

"The key difference between our bill and the Administration's bill is that we want to improve education for all children," said John F. Jennings, an aide to the Education and Labor Committee.

A spokesman for Mr. Goodling could not be reached for comment.

Bill's Provisions

Under the bill, the Secretary of Education would be authorized to make grants to state education agencies to develop reform plans.

The plans would be developed jointly by panels coordinated by the state school chief and consisting of the governor or his or her designee, the majority and minority leaders of the state legislature, and representatives from higher education, teachers' unions, parent groups, the business community, and students.

Also, in order to receive aid, the states would have to assure the Education Department that the plans provided for input from parents, students, teachers, and representatives from the job-training, higher-education, and social-service sectors.

The state plans would have to spell out how the state intended to meet the national education goals, and how it would revamp teacher training, student testing, and the curriculum.

"We don't tell states how to do it because each of them will do it differently," Mr. Jennings said. "Kentucky is very far along, while others may not be."

The states would subdivide their grants among their school districts, which could use the federal aid to support elements of Mr. Bush's proposal, such as school-choice programs, merit schools, and experimental New American Schools.

After fiscal 1992, states would be required to begin matching the federal grants. Five years after the project gets under way, states would be required to ante up two dollars for every dollar provided by the federal government.

Mr. Jennings said the bill follows the recommendations of the National Governors' Association, the Business Roundtable, and the Education Commission of the States.

Vol. 11, Issue 03, Page 23

Published in Print: September 18, 1991, as Bipartisan Bill Authorizes Grants for Systemic Reforms
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