Dole Unveils K-12 Policies At Massachusetts School
Republican presidetial hopeful Elizabeth Hanford Dole last week outlined her vision for reshaping federal education policy, calling for significantly more flexibility for states and school districts.
Mrs. Dole, who is seeking the GOP nomination in 2000, returned to Melrose (Mass.) High School on Sept. 22 to deliver her education policy speech. She had taught 11th grade history at the school 40 years ago.
"The federal government has become a truly intrusive regulatory presence sapping state authority, local control, and parental responsibility," said Mrs. Dole, a former Cabinet member in the Reagan and Bush administrations, who served most recently as the president of the American Red Cross.
She promised that, if elected president, she would increase the flow of federal dollars to the classroom while reducing federal control.
In exchange for the added flexibility, states and districts would be required to improve student achievement, a plan she said was modeled after the proposed Academic Achievement for All Act--or Straight A's-- introduced by congressional Republicans earlier this year.
Mrs. Dole said she would also propose changes to federal tax laws aimed at improving education.
First, she pitched a $1,000-a-year federal income-tax credit for those who donated money to educational foundations set up to provide aid to low-income children in preschool to 12th grade.
She also said she supports allowing parents to set aside $3,000 annually in tax-free savings accounts for private or public school expenses.
Her plan is based on legislation in Congress that has been opposed by President Clinton. Under current law, parents can set aside up to $500 annually in such accounts, but only for higher education.
Mrs. Dole also said principals and teachers should have greater authority to discipline disruptive students or move them to alternative programs and that she supports parent-approved locker and backpack searches and drug-testing in schools.
Another of the GOP candidates, the magazine publisher Steve Forbes, said this month that as president he would "immediately block-grant funds from the Department of Education" to states and school districts, and allow the money to be used for a variety of educational purposes, including private and religious school tuition.
"Let parents choose schools that work," Mr. Forbes said in a Sept. 9 address to the National Baptist Convention in Tampa, Fla.
"Real school choice means public schools and private schools. Charter schools and Baptist schools. Home schools and parochial schools," he said.
--Erik W. Robelen
Vol. 19, Issue 5, Page 26