Bush Zeroes In on Accountability For Federal K-12 Funds

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In the first major education policy speech of his presidential campaign, Gov. George W. Bush of Texas pledged last week that if elected he would hold schools more accountable for the federal dollars they receive and judge their performance based on annual state-developed exams.

Gov. George W. Bush

Schools that did not improve could see their federal aid, including their funding from the $8 billion Title I program for needy students, funneled to parents for public or private school costs or tutoring, the generally acknowledged front runner for the Republican presidential nomination said.

"If, at the end of three years, there is still no progress, its Title I funds will be divided up, matched by other federal education money given to the state, and made directly available to parents," Mr. Bush told members of the Latin Business Association at a luncheon in Los Angeles Sept. 2.

Earlier in the week, Mr. Bush, who is expected to make two more major education addresses in coming weeks, said he was opposed to abolishing the Department of Education--a common rallying cry for conservative Republicans.

In his Los Angeles speech, Mr. Bush went on to promise to make sure that federal aid goes to programs with a research-based record of success. And the second-term governor said he wants to move the administration of the Head Start early-childhood program to the Department of Education from the Department of Health and Human Services.

"Head Start will be an education program," Mr. Bush declared.

Education Advisers

The proposals provided the first glimpse of the input he has received from a panel of 11 school policy experts who are advising him.

In assembling the advisory panel last spring, Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, who is the campaign's domestic-policy director, recruited from think tanks and academia and among practicing educators.

What he came up with is a group that includes champions of publicly financed school vouchers and tough academic standards, as well as advocates of a reduced federal role in education.

One of the panelists is Diane Ravitch, an expert on academic standards and a senior research fellow at New York University. Ms. Ravitch, who was an assistant education secretary under the governor's father, President George Bush, and also conducts research for the Progressive Policy Institute, the think tank of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council once chaired by President Clinton.

Also on board is Lynne V. Cheney, a proponent of traditional curriculum and a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research in Washington.

The panel also includes two prominent urban educators: Houston Superintendent Roderick R. Paige, and Howard L. Fuller, a voucher proponent and a former superintendent in Milwaukee who is now the director of the Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University.

The names of the education advisers were first disclosed in the Aug. 7 issue of the National Journal, a Washington-based magazine. The other members include:

Douglas W. Carnine, the director of the National Center to Improve the Tools of Educators, based at the University of Oregon; Lance T. Izumi, the co-director of the Center for School Reform at the San Francisco-based Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy; Margaret LaMontagne, the senior education adviser to Gov. Bush; Townsend Lange McNitt, an administrative assistant and counsel to Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H.; Nina Shokraii Rees, a senior policy analyst at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, a policy organization that has backed vouchers; and Williamson Evers, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, a think tank based at Stanford University in California.

The chairman of the advisory team is Eric A. Hanushek, an economist at the University of Rochester in New York who has questioned the wisdom of spending on smaller class sizes, a major policy emphasis of President Clinton's.

Campaign officials confirmed that Mr. Bush is also getting advice from two Reagan administration education officials, former Secretary of Education William J. Bennett and former Assistant Secretary Chester E. Finn Jr.

Vol. 19, Issue 1, Page 28

Published in Print: September 8, 1999, as Bush Zeroes In on Accountability For Federal K-12 Funds
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