When House Republicans recently rolled out their bill to enact President Bush's education agenda, something was missing: support from a half-dozen Republicans on the education committee.
As of late last week, six of the committee's 27 GOP members, ranging from conservatives like Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan to moderate Rep. Marge Roukema of New Jersey, had not signed on as co-sponsors of HR 1. The bill would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Greg Meyer, a spokesman for Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, said his boss "has concerns as the bill appears on the Title I mandates." Specifically, he cited proposed requirements for issuing report cards by states and for state testing every year in grades 3-8.
Mr. Bush has made annual testing, as a means of promoting accountability, one of his top education priorities.
Rep. Todd R. Platts, a freshman from Pennsylvania, said he likes most aspects of the bill, but declined to co-sponsor it because he opposes the provision that would provide vouchers to students in persistently failing public schools.
"I've been very upfront with the president about that part of his plan," he said.
The other Republican members of the committee who have decided not to co-sponsor the bill are Reps. Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia and Mark Souder of Indiana.
But David Schnittger, a spokesman for Rep. John A. Boehner, the chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee, said the bill enjoys wide support within the GOP conference, with nearly 80 co-sponsors.
"The co-sponsors on the bill run the gamut from moderate members to conservative members," he said. "This is just the usual legislative process at work."
Mr. Schnittger also pointed out that committee Democrats aren't unanimous either on their plans for education. "There are two different Democratic bills," he said.
—Erik W. Robelen
Vol. 20, Issue 29, Page 27