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To Placate Conservatives, Measure Alters Goals 2000

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Washington

The federal budget agreement enacted last week removed several contentious elements of the Clinton administration's signature school-reform program. The aim was to make Goals 2000 more palatable to conservatives, and to help school districts whose states had declined to participate.

"We're comfortable with it, and we signed on to it," said Michael Cohen, an adviser to Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley. "There isn't anything ... that undermines or in any way alters the fundamental goals of the program."

The amendments to the Goals 2000: Educate America Act are modeled on a bill introduced last fall by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who chairs the appropriations subcommittee that oversees education spending. They were added to the final fiscal 1996 appropriations bill, which was passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton last week. (See story, page 15.)

Alterations

According to a Senate summary, the new law will:

* Allow school districts in states that are not participating in Goals 2000 to apply for aid on their own if they have the approval of the state education agency. Six states are considered non-participants, but California officials are apparently ready to accept a new grant. (See story, page 13.) The other states are Alabama, Oklahoma, Virginia, Montana, and New Hampshire.

* Remove a requirement that states submit school-improvement plans to the U.S. secretary of education. States still must draft plans based on challenging standards and aligned assessments, but can get money by promising that it will be spent properly.

* Delete provisions specifying the membership of state and local panels charged with drafting the state and local plans.

* Formally eliminate the National Education Standards and Improvement Council.

* Remove references to "opportunity to learn" standards for measuring school services, including a requirement that states create opportunity-to-learn "standards or strategies."

* State that no district, state, or school "shall be required ... to provide outcomes-based education or school-based health clinics."

* State that the Goals 2000 law will not "require or permit any state or federal official to inspect a home, judge how parents raise their children, or remove children from their parents."

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