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Published in Print: February 2, 2000, as GOP: More Money, Local Control

GOP: More Money, Local Control

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Here are excerpts from the Republican response to President Clinton's address by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine:

A good education is the ladder of opportunity. It turns dreams into reality. That's why education is at the top of the Republican agenda.

Tonight, I ask the president to join with Republicans in our commitment to bring a good education to all our children. Our Four-Point Plan for Educational Excellence will ensure that all children have an equal opportunity to reach their full potential.

First, we will continue to increase federal funds for elementary and secondary education. Last year, the Republicans boosted education spending by $500 million more than the president's budget, and we added funds for children with special needs.

Second, rather than Washington dictating to communities how they should run their schools, we should listen to those who know best: our parents, our teachers, and local school boards.

The debate in Washington is not about money: It is about who makes the decisions. We need a change of approach—one that recognizes that local schools, not Washington offices, are the heart and home of education.

We will empower states and communities to use federal education dollars in the ways children need most. ...

The point is, it should be your community's decision, not Washington's. In return for that flexibility, the Republican plan requires real accountability—not more paperwork, but better results. Schools will be held responsible for what is truly important: improving student achievement.

Third, our plan will strengthen teaching excellence. America's teachers need our help. About one-third of our new teachers get so discouraged that they leave the profession. Many are prevented from doing their very best because they don't have a chance to get enough training in the subject they teach.

We will increase federal grants to states and communities and give them the freedom to use that money to better prepare, recruit, and retain good teachers. The lessons are clear: We must encourage talented people to choose teaching as a career and keep them in the classroom.

Fourth, our plan will continue the long-time Republican support for higher education. Last year, we increased Pell Grants and student loans to open the doors to college for more low- and middle-income families. This year, we will increase the amount that families can contribute to education savings accounts to make higher education more affordable.

Vol. 19, Issue 21, Page 31

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