Federal File

July 12, 2000 1 min read

Money for Schools

Meeting a federal commitment born in last year’s endgame budget talks, the Department of Education has announced nearly $100 million in grants to 31 states and the District of Columbia to help turn around low-performing schools.

“Low-performing schools are often found in high-poverty communities and frequently lack the financial and human resources to put effective improvements into practice,” Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley said in a written announcement last week.

A $134 million school improvement fund was created at the behest of the Clinton administration during the final fiscal 2000 budget negotiations. The remaining money is expected to be awarded in coming weeks.

At the GOP’s urging, the program stipulates that districts receiving the money allow students to transfer to higher-performing public schools in the same district if space is available.

Congressional Choices

Once again, the Heritage Foundation is highlighting what it deems a double standard on school choice: Many lawmakers who oppose using federal money to support private school choice send their own children to such schools.

A recent survey by the conservative think tank found that 40 percent of House respondents and 49 percent of Senate respondents with school-age children either send or have sent at least one child to private school. The House response rate was 86 percent, or 373 representatives. In the Senate, 93 senators out of 100 responded.

The report says 57 House members who send or have sent any of their children to private school voted last fall against a proposal to allow children in failing public schools to receive a federal voucher. The measure failed 257-166.

“Parents are right to ask their representatives on Capitol Hill why the rest of America’s children should not enjoy the same opportunity,” authors Nina Shokraii Rees and Jennifer Garrett of Heritage write in the June report.

—Erik W. Robelen

A version of this article appeared in the July 12, 2000 edition of Education Week