News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

April 19, 2000 2 min read

House Panel Passes ESEA Reauthorization Measure

The House education committee last week closed out a protracted and highly partisan debate on a bill to reauthorize portions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, with all Democrats voting against the final plan.

On a vote of 25-21, the Education and the Workforce Committee on April 13 approved HR 4141, a bill to reauthorize about $2.4 billion in funding for safe schools, technology, Title VI block grants, and other programs. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas was the sole Republican to vote against the bill, which is the last in a series the committee has approved to reauthorize the ESEA.

Democrats charge, among other criticisms, that the additional spending flexibility the bill promises states and districts would undermine core national priorities.

Rep. George Miller of California offered one of the few Democratic amendments that succeeded. Approved 26-20, it would require parental consent before a student participated in commercial marketing and research in schools.

Two GOP amendments that were approved would allow schools to discipline special education students in the same way as other students if they came to school with a gun or engaged in dangerous activities on school grounds.

— Erik W. Robelen

Bllls Target Science Instruction

A Michigan Republican unveiled House bills last week that are designed to improve the quality of science instruction in U.S. classrooms.

The package of three bills would offer tax credits to college undergraduates studying to become K-12 mathematics or science teachers, authorize funding for summer institutes to help teachers improve their skills, and create a program in which “master teachers” would work in elementary schools. Those expert teachers would train K-6 teachers in hands-on activities intended to demonstrate scientific and mathematical principles.

“These bills are the first step in a long process to ensure that teachers are provided the necessary training and skills to teach these subjects and that students are provided with the best possible learning curricula and environment,” Rep. Vernon J. Ehlers, the bill’s author and the vice chairman of the House Science Committee, said in a statement.

— David J. Hoff

‘High Stakes’ Tests Criticized

Sen. Paul D. Wellstone, D-Minn., has introduced a measure aimed at stemming the growing reliance on tests to make “high stakes” decisions about students’ academic futures.

The proposed Fairness and Accuracy in Student Testing Act would require states and districts to use a wide range of measures— not just standardized tests—to make decisions about graduation, promotion, or class placement.

“The high-stakes-testing movement imposes a harsh agenda that holds children responsible for our own failure to invest in their future,” Mr. Wellstone said in unveiling the bill this month.

Rep. Robert C. Scott, D- Va., has introduced a companion bill in the House.

—Debra Viadero

A version of this article appeared in the April 19, 2000 edition of Education Week as News in Brief: A Washington Roundup