House Panel Backs $20 Million For National Board for Teaching

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Washington--A House subcommittee voted last week to authorize the federal government to help finance the establishment of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, over the objections of a member who predicted the measure would fail in a floor vote.

After a brief debate, the postsecondary-education panel of the Education and Labor Committee approved on a voice vote a bill, HR 3717, that would authorize $20 million in spending over three years as the government's share of the board's $50-million start-up costs.

The measure would require the board to submit audits of its federally funded expenditures and annual reports on its activities to the Congress. It would also mandate that the board form an advisory panel that would include two representatives of the Education Department.

Some subcommittee members expressed reservations about federal involvement in the project, a privately incorporated, nonprofit effort aimed at creating a system of voluntary national certification for teachers.

Representative Bill Goodling, Republican of Pennsylvania, argued that federal funding for the board4would be a misplacement of priorities.

Mr. Goodling, the ranking Republican on the Education and Labor Committee, argued that private funding could be accomplished with "a very small amount" of money donated by each teacher seeking certification.

He also expressed doubt that the bill was "a piece of legislation that can pass on the floor of the House."

But the subcommitee's chairman, Representative Pat Williams, Democrat of Montana, praised the proposal as representing "one of the most dramatic changes in the establishing of voluntary standards and the assessment of the teaching profession" ever enacted.

The Congress already has appropriated $5 million to help finance the board, but the appropriation was made contingent on enactment of the authorizing measure.

The full Education and Labor Committee is expected to take up the bill in late May.

The Senate earlier this year, as part of its version of President Bush's education initiatives, S 695, adopted a measure that would authorize $25 million over three years in federal spending for the board.

--pw

Vol. 09, Issue 32

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