The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 2300, as reported by the Committee
on Education and the Workforce. In addition, the Administration opposes
simply limiting this proposal to ten States because that would not address
the fundamental flaws in this legislation. If the bill were presented to
the President, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto it.
H.R. 2300 would effectively permit States to convert a wide array of
Federal education programs that address national priorities into a single
block grant program providing general aid for education. The bill would
thus undermine the Federal Government's commitment to help local
communities raise educational standards and educational achievement for all
students, reduce class size, improve the quality of teaching, put a
computer in every classroom, make schools free from drugs and violence, and
promote family literacy. These efforts have been proven successful in
helping schools to improve.
Block grants would replace these worthy and targeted efforts with general
aid, without providing adequate mechanisms to: (1) hold States and
communities accountable for their use of taxpayer funds; (2) hold schools
and school systems accountable for results; and (3) give the Administration
and Congress information with which to evaluate the block grant program's
performance. The bill would not target funds to school districts and
schools, or for educational services, that most warrant Federal assistance,
and it would not ensure that funds are actually used for classroom
instruction. The bill would also open the door for Federal funds to be
spent on private and religious school tuition. The Administration's
position on this issue is well known.
The Administration is pleased that the House is working to improve and
reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. The
Administration urges the House to reject the block grant approach of H.R.
2300 and, instead, work towards adopting the ESEA reauthorization
legislation as proposed by the President in his Educational Excellence for
All Children Act of 1999.