Prospects Brighten for Administration's Reform Bill
WASHINGTON--The Clinton Administration hopes to send a new version of its education-reform legislation to Capitol Hill this week, and both Congressional and Administration sources predicted last week that a compromise could be worked out with Democrats on the Education and Labor Committee.
The Administration postponed release of its bill after panel members expressed strong reservations about it in a meeting with Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley. (See Education Week, March 31, 1993.)
The "goals 2000: educate America act'' would codify the national education goals as the basis of federal policy, establish a federal role in developing a system of national standards and assessments, and create a grant program to support the development and implementation of state and local reform plans.
The House Democrats' primary concern is that a national assessment system would hurt disadvantaged students. They want to balance performance standards with standards to measure the adequacy of school services, a type of benchmark the Administration calls "opportunity to learn'' standards.
The Administration has already agreed to mandate the development of such standards. But lawmakers want to insure that high-stakes testing cannot proceed until the "opportunity'' standards are in place, and that they are given as much weight as the student-performance standards.
Marshall S. Smith, who President Clinton plans to nominate as undersecretary of education, said last week that the Administration would agree to lawmakers' requests that both types of standards be certified by the same assessment council.
Congressional sources said the Administration had also agreed to limit authorization for the National Education Goals Panel to five years, rather than the 10 years proposed in the Administration's latest draft.
"I'm confident that we can work out something that will satisfy everyone,'' Mr. Smith said.
Congressional aides said that lawmakers' concerns had been aired in staff meetings and in meetings between Mr. Riley and individual members, and that the panel is awaiting a response from the Administration.
"We know where we're going at this point; there's some drafting to be done,'' said Michael Cohen, a consultant to Mr. Riley who has taken the lead on drafting the reform bill.
Administration sources said Mr. Riley must still get final White House approval for the legislation.