Office of Management and Budget Click to print this document

August 6, 1998

H.R. 3892 - English Language Fluency Act
(Rep. Riggs (R) CA and 3 others)

The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 3892, which would significantly amend the Bilingual Education Act. While there is a need to strengthen programs designed to help students with limited English proficiency (LEP) learn English, meet challenging standards in academic subjects, and successfully move into mainstream classes, H.R. 3892 would not accomplish these purposes. It is a step in the wrong direction.

H.R. 3892 is objectionable because it would:

  • Force school districts to cut off services arbitrarily to students who need them, and deny funds to school districts if they fail to do so.

  • Eliminate professional development programs that focus on the preparation of teachers, thereby exacerbating the current shortage of qualified bilingual and English-as-a-second language teachers.

  • Eliminate targeting of limited Federal funds on school districts with the greatest need and the highest quality programs, by replacing the current competitive grants program with a State block grant.

  • Fail to include safeguards to prevent States and school districts from reducing their financial support for educating LEP students.

  • Curtail necessary efforts by the Education Department to protect the civil rights of LEP students by voiding compliance agreements where local educational agencies (LEAs) have chosen bilingual education as the means of complying with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. This would generate costly and time-consuming law suits for LEAs and deny them the ability to resolve compliance issues voluntarily.

The President has articulated a clear set of principles to strengthen education programs for LEP students. This bill does not reflect those principles, and will not improve education programs for these students. It will not help them to learn English more rapidly, nor will it help them to meet challenging standards in academic subject areas.

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