Progress on Clinton’s ‘Call to Action’

December 10, 1997 2 min read
Initial goals: Action to date:
Create voluntary national tests for 4th grade reading and 8th grade mathematics. While the original time line scheduled pilot-testing to begin this year, a deal with Congress puts off its start until at least Oct. 1, 1998. Some House Republicans plan to renew efforts to kill the plan next year.
Provide $105 million over five years to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to meet its goal of certifying 100,000 master teachers. The fiscal 1998 education appropriations law gives $18.5 million to the board: $16 million to develop new assessments and $2.5 million to subsidize teachers’ preparations for the exam. The balance of the $105 million must be approved in future annual spending bills.
Recruit and train 1 million volunteers to tutor young children through America Reads at a cost of $2.4 billion over five years. The House passed a literacy bill with a focus on teacher training rather than volunteer recruitment. The Senate hasn’t acted. The fiscal 1998 education appropriations law sets aside $250 million for whatever literacy bill the president signs this year. If work is not finished by July 1, 1998, the funding will be diverted into special education programs.
Expand Head Start to 1 million children by 2002. The fiscal 1998 spending bill increases Head Start spending by $374.5 million, for a 9.6 percent increase.
Create 3,000 charter schools by 2000. Officials estimate that 700 schools are operating under charters. To spur the creation of new schools, the federal government will spend $80 million, $29 million more than last year but $20 million shy of what Mr. Clinton requested.
Support character education and school uniforms. A new $40 million after-school program will help reduce juvenile crime, the administration said.
Create $5 billion in interest subsidies for school construction. Proposal removed from the budget during negotiations with Congress.
Offer tax credits and deductions to encourage enrollment in colleges and job training. A tax-cut bill Mr. Clinton signed in August will offer several new tax incentives, including: a tax credit for the first $1,000 and half of the next $1,000 spent in each of the first two years of higher education; a tax credit of 20 percent of up to $10,000 of higher education costs beyond the first two years of education; and savings incentives for college costs modeled after individual retirement accounts.
Pass a “GI Bill’’ for American workers to promote skill training. House passed a bill with job-training vouchers. The Senate plans to address the issue in 1999.
Connect every classroom in the country to the Internet by 2000. About 65 percent of schools, but only 14 percent of classrooms, have Internet access, according to year-old Department of Education data.
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