After two years as the only state to reject Goals 2000 money, Virginia will now apply for $15 million in federal aid under the program.
Since Congress passed President Clinton’s school-improvement program in 1994, the state’s Republican governor, George F. Allen, has rejected the $8 million that was available over the last two years, claiming that the money had too many strings attached and would thwart local control of schools. The state is now seeking money for the next two years.
After receiving guarantees this month from Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., that all the money could be used for technology in schools, Gov. Allen said he was satisfied that Virginia could apply “on our own terms.”
“I wasn’t willing to sacrifice the welfare of our children for a fistful of dollars,” the governor said in a statement. “With these assurances, I believe that Virginia has prevailed,” he said.
A Change of Heart
But while Mr. Allen was claiming victory, a Democratic member of the state’s congressional delegation said the governor’s decision was really a retreat because nothing in the federal law or regulations had changed.
“The only change has come in the governor’s mind,” said Jim McIntyre, a spokesman for Rep. James P. Moran Jr., D-Va., who has criticized Mr. Allen’s defiant stance. “This was a bad decision from the start and [the governor] finally realized it.”
An amendment that passed Congress last spring clarified that program funds could be used exclusively for technology, according to Jennifer Davis, the Goals 2000 policy adviser for U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley. She said Gov. Allen’s opposition was puzzling because at least two other states were already using their Goals 2000 money for that purpose.