Published Online: October 13, 1999
Published in Print: October 13, 1999, as Federal File


Federal File

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Unlikely allies

Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., recently cited an unlikely ally in his efforts to reshape President Clinton's prized class-size-reduction initiative.

During debate on the Senate floor on the fiscal 2000 appropriation for education, Sen. Gorton quoted Andrew Rotherham--one of the president's advisers--to support his position that districts should have more flexibility in how they spend class-size dollars.

Sen. Slade Gorton

"President Clinton's $1.2 billion class-size-reduction initiative, passed in 1998, illustrates Washington's obsession with means at the expense of results and also the triumph of symbolism over sound policy," Sen. Gorton said Sept. 29, quoting from a policy paper written by Mr. Rotherham and published last April when Mr. Rotherham was the director of the Progressive Policy Institute's 21st Century Schools Project.

The catch is that, in August, Mr. Rotherham accepted a six-month assignment as the president's special assistant for education policy.

"That describes perfectly the proposal before us right now," Mr. Gorton said of Mr. Rotherham's prose during debate on a Democratic amendment to keep class-size-reduction money flowing strictly to teacher-hiring efforts, as it does now.

The labor, health and human services, and education appropriations bill approved by the Senate last week would essentially allow the class-size-reduction dollars to be used for a broader range of educational purposes.

Mr. Rotherham could not be reached for comment last week.

Financial-aid changes

The Department of Education has unveiled a reorganization plan and new management team for its student-financial-assistance office.

Announced Sept. 29, the changes cap months of work to realign financial-management and aid- delivery responsibilities into three distinct channels, said Greg Woods, the department's chief operating officer for student financial assistance. The channels are based on customers--students, schools, and financial partners, Mr. Woods said in a statement.

--Erik W. Robelen

Vol. 19, Issue 7, Page 23

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