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First Gov  
May 15, 2001
(House Rules)

H.R. 1 - No Child Left Behind Act of 2001
(Rep. Boehner (R) OH and 80 cosponsors)

The 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.

The 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.

  • Parental 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.

  • Excessive 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.

  • Increased 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.

  • Unnecessary 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.

  • Math-Science 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.

Possible Amendments. The Administration has serious concerns with several amendments that it understands may be offered, including the following:

  • Class 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.

  • Mandatory 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.

  • Appropriations 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 improved accountability.

Additional 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.

The 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.