Tags: Bush | Testing | Plan | Stays | Education | Bill

Bush Testing Plan Stays in Education Bill

Tuesday, 22 May 2001 12:00 AM

That bill has some components of a plan drafted by President Bush, but has broad support among many Democrats in Congress as well.

The version of the bill headed toward House passage spends more on failing government schools than Republicans would like - $11.5 billion dedicated toward Title I education programs for disadvantaged children next year alone, up from $8.5 billion this year. But it also contains increased accountability provisions Bush wants that require states to conduct mandatory reading and math tests for all students grades 3-8.

The bill had strong opposition from conservative House Republicans, of whom 23 were summoned to the White House to voice their concerns to President Bush. In a meeting that lasted roughly an hour, several left saying that they would most likely back the measure unless there were "substantive and fundamental" changes.

Georgia Rep. Bob Bar, a Republican, said the president made a persuasive argument for supporting the bill.

"One of the other things that we talked about is looking down the road. The president committed to working with us to secure passage of additional education bills if everything we want isn't in this one," said Barr. He committed to work with us, so this is the first step of many."

Conservatives wanted provisions in the bill that would give parents more say in their choice of schools and Straight A's, a funding flexibility amendment.

"My impression is that the president is eager to sign a bill, and again this bill won't have everything in it that we as conservatives want in it. I don't think it has everything in it that the president would like to see in it but I think most if not all of us in that room agreed that we need to get something through," Barr said, adding that he would not stand in the way of passage unless there were "substantive and fundadmental changes" to the bill.

The House Tuesday rejected one of two key amendments Tuesday that threatened to upset the support behind the bill. The House voted 173-255 to reject an amendment drafted by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., that would have eliminated the mandatory testing program. Some Democrats rejected mandatory testing as an arbitrary measurement of performance, and some Republicans thought the mandate would trample states' rights.

And later this week, the House is also set to consider an amendment drafted by House Education Committee Chairman John Boehner, R-Ohio, that would let parents use federal vouchers at private schools when government schools fail to meet performance requirements. Bush wanted the vouchers, but Republicans joined Democrats to strip the provisions out at the committee level.

"School choice should be at the heart of the debate on education reform," said House Majority Leader Richard Armey, R-Texas, who supports vouchers. "It's the least we can do for disadvantaged children seeking a quality education."

The Senate is considering its own version of education "reform" that will ultimately be combined with the House bill. The Senate version authorizes even more spending on government schools and also excludes Bush's vouchers plan.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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That bill has some components of a plan drafted by President Bush, but has broad support among many Democrats in Congress as well. The version of the bill headed toward House passage spends more on failing government schools than Republicans would like - $11.5 billion...
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2001-00-22
Tuesday, 22 May 2001 12:00 AM
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