Administration supports House passage of H.R. 1, which reflects the
themes of "No Child Left Behind", the President's comprehensive proposal
to reform the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA).
The Administration is pleased that H.R. 1, as reported by the Committee
on Education and the Workforce, incorporates many of the basic components
of the President's key proposals to: (1) require States to conduct
annual testing in reading and math for students in grades 3 through
8, to help States, schools, and parents know who is on track and who
needs extra help; (2) consolidate numerous programs relating to teacher
quality, bilingual education, educational technology, and choice and
innovation into performance-based grants to States that would allow
States and local school districts to direct Federal funds where they
are most needed; (3) make reading the foundation of education reform
by establishing new "Reading First" and "Early Reading First" programs
to support scientifically-based methods to ensure that all children
can read by the end of third grade; (4) strengthen accountability
provisions designed to turn around failing schools; and (5) empower
parents with choices when their children are trapped in failing schools.
Administration urges the House to refine the Committee bill to conform
to additional elements of the President's proposal, as described
below, while maintaining fiscal discipline.
Option for Private School Choice and/or Supplemental Services.
The Administration is pleased that H.R. 1 permits students in
failing schools to transfer to better public schools, and that
it requires school districts to provide transportation for these
students to their new schools. The Administration is also pleased
that the bill would allow parents to use public funds to obtain
supplemental services for these children. However, the Administration
strongly urges the House to amend the bill to require districts
to provide funds to parents of students in failing schools that
those parents can use to enroll their children in private schools,
as in H.R. 1 as introduced.
Appropriation Authorization Levels. The total appropriation
authorizations contained in H.R. 1, as reported, exceed the President's
total request for elementary and secondary education programs
by over nearly $5 billion for FY 2002. The Administration has
produced a responsible Budget that includes significant increases
for key education programs while also maintaining fiscal discipline
government-wide. The Administration urges the House to pass a
bill that is closely aligned with the President's Budget.
Flexibility for States and School Districts. The Administration
urges the House to include in the bill a pilot program to allow
interested States and school districts added flexibility in using
Federal funds in exchange for meeting specific goals for increased
student performance, as the President proposed.
Authorities. H.R. 1 should be amended to remove unrequested
authorities and repeal those that the Administration has determined
to be ineffective or unnecessary. The President's ESEA proposal
is based on streamlining and simplifying the plethora of existing
education programs so that States and school districts can better
address their own needs. As a result, the President's FY 2002
Budget consolidates dozens of programs into flexible, performance-based
grants. H.R. 1 should be amended to reflect these consolidations
and to eliminate any unrequested authorities.
Partnerships. The President's Budget provides funds for this
program within the National Science Foundation (NSF). NSF has
effectively administered other activities related to this initiative
and the Administration believes that NSF's expertise will be invaluable
in ensuring a successful program. The Administration therefore
urges the House to amend H.R. 1 to eliminate this authority from
the ESEA, enabling NSF to administer this initiative.
Amendments. The Administration has serious concerns with several
amendments that it understands may be offered, including the following:
Size Reduction and School Renovation. The Administration understands
that amendments may be offered to add additional programs to the
ESEA, including class-size reduction and school construction.
The Administration strongly opposes including these programs,
and other programs not provided for in the President's Budget,
in H.R. 1. Decisions regarding whether to invest in reducing the
size of classes or renovating schools are best made at the local
level. The Administration's teacher-quality proposal provides
both sufficient flexibility and funding for States and districts
to implement a variety of strategies to improve teaching, including
class-size reduction. The Administration is committed to ensuring
that local districts determine what works best for them, rather
than prescribing a required set of activities. Repair and modernization
of schools is primarily a State and local responsibility. In fact,
the creation of a Federal grant program may have a detrimental
effect on the infrastructure of our nation's schools by giving
localities an excuse to defer funding for school repairs based
on the false hope that Federal funds will become available.
funding of the IDEA. The Administration would strongly oppose
an amendment to convert special education funding under the Individuals
with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to direct spending. The
Administration recognizes the challenges faced by States and localities
in carrying out their responsibility to educate children with
disabilities; the Budget provides a $1 billion increase in FY
2002 for IDEA grants to States, by far the largest increase ever
proposed in a President's Budget, and a solid foundation from
which to improve the program to better focus on quality and educational
results for children with disabilities. Converting the program
to direct spending would undermine fiscal discipline by removing
the program from the appropriations process and increasing Federal
spending for special education far in excess of the President's
Budget over the next ten years, with no attention to improving
educational results for these children. The Administration believes
that special education issues could be better addressed within
the context of a thorough review of the IDEA, not through a floor
amendment to the ESEA bill.
Trigger for State Assessments. The Administration would strongly
oppose any amendment that would permit States to delay implementation
of annual assessments in grades 3 through 8. Annual assessments
are the centerpiece of the Administration's proposal to improve
accountability. Delaying their implementation would significantly
weaken efforts to improve student performance and create uncertainty
among States and districts about what they are expected to have
in place. The FY 2002 Budget request includes $320 million for
a new State assessments program. This program demonstrates a major
Federal commitment to help States, many of which have already
invested heavily in developing high-quality assessments, achieve
Concerns. Title III, Part B of the ESEA, as amended by H.R.
1 would authorize education grants to, or for the benefit of, people
who are classified as Eskimos, Aleuts, and other Alaska Natives,
which may raise constitutional questions.
Administration urges the House to amend H.R. 1 to address the concerns
outlined above, as well as other concerns with the Committee bill.
Finally, the Administration will continue to work with Congress
as the legislative process moves forward, to ensure that the final
education package embodies the themes of the President's proposal.