Following are major provisions of the administration’s proposal for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act:
21st Century Community Learning Centers
Responding to demand for the competitive grants offered by this now-$200 million program, the Department of Education has proposed adding a local matching requirement, with grants targeted to rural and inner-city areas and other schools with high needs for after-school programs. Community-based organizations would also be eligible for up to 10 percent of the grants.
Bilingual Education Act
The proposal would require districts that receive grants to administer annual assessments of English- language proficiency and would give priority for funding to districts with proven success. Districts would be required to provide more data than the current law requires and annual evaluation reports. The revised act would also create a new grant program and additional funding for professional development and training for teachers not certified in bilingual education.
The administration’s proposal would continue efforts to underwrite the hiring of 100,000 new teachers, but would add a local matching requirement for grants from the $1.2 billion program. It would also allow less populous communities receiving grants that are smaller than the average local starting teacher salary to use the money for professional development.
New “Opportunities to Improve Our Nation’s Schools,” or OPTIONS, competitive grants would promote public school choice, including public schools at work sites or on college campuses, and special programs within schools. Acting Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Judith Johnson said she did not know how much funding the administration would propose.
Reading Excellence Act
The reading-excellence program, now funded at $260 million to provide teacher training and remedial services to help students master reading in the early grades, would be moved to Title I from Title II of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The move would put a greater focus on serving disadvantaged students, and more training on teaching reading and mathematics, Ms. Johnson said.
Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act
The Education Department proposes that states award grants competitively under the programnow financed at $566 million. States would have to give preference to high-need schools with high-quality proposals. Schools also would be required to create “safe schools” plans. State agencies and governors would be required to submit joint applications and to coordinate their strategies and accountability efforts.
Title I Paraprofessionals
By July 1, 2002, all Title I paraprofessionals would be required to have high school diplomas or the equivalent. Only those aides with two or more years of college education would be allowed to provide direct instructional help, such as tutoring. Districts would also be encouraged to provide professional development and career ladders to encourage such aides to become teachers.
-- Joetta L. Sack
A version of this article appeared in the May 26, 1999 edition of Education Week as Highlights of the Clinton ESEA Plan