The Administration opposes House passage of H.R. 1995, as reported by the Committee on Education and the Workforce. If the bill is presented to the President in its current form, he will veto it because it undermines last year's bipartisan commitment to class size reduction, by failing to guarantee the continuation of a nationwide effort to reduce class sizes in the early grades. Research has shown that students attending smaller classes in the early grades make more rapid educational progress, with the greatest benefits accruing to lower-achieving, minority, and poor children.
The bill instead creates a block grant that fails to guarantee that any funding will be used for hiring new teachers to reduce class size. The bill also eliminates the goal of significantly smaller classes, eliminates an important focus on the early grades, and does not adequately target funding to the communities that need it most. Moreover, this bill could allow Federal resources to replace local or State funding already being spent on class size reductions, instead of increasing overall investments in public schools. The Administration and Congress should be working together to make continued progress on this obvious national need -- not retreating from last year's bipartisan work addressing this problem.
In addition, H.R. 1995 is a flawed alternative to the President's proposed Educational Excellence for All Children Act of 1999 because it:
Excludes Federal support for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and other activities of national significance, from the bill's allowable "national activities."
Does not advance the next generation of standards-based reform.
- Fails to hold States, school districts, and schools accountable for improving student achievement.
- Does not target funds equitably or effectively.
- Fails to expand the Troops-to-Teachers program and restricts the Administration's flexibility to fund the program.
- Does not include direct support for professional development for early childhood educators focused on early language and literacy development.
- Represents a piecemeal approach to the important task of reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, the principal Federal statute that supports K-12 education.
The Administration supports a substitute to be offered by Representative Martinez, which would continue the commitment to class-size reduction begun last year, and urges the Rules Committee to make in order that substitute. The Administration understands that the Martinez substitute would also retain current language authorizing support for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, include strong accountability measures, provide resources for States to continue their work in the important areas of standards and assessments, and better target funds on high-need communities.