May 1, 2001

Senate, House Move Closer to Action on Education Bills

WASHINGTON D.C.—According to Congressional Daily, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said yesterday that most outstanding disagreements with Democrats over a rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (S. 1) were worked out over the weekend.

With major differences out of the way, the Senate can begin considering the bill this week. A Democratic aide said it is unlikely that Minority Leader Tom Daschle will ask his caucus to delay the bill's progress.

The measure contains many of President Bush's proposed changes in federal education policy. According to Senate Republican staffers, negotiators agreed to soften the accountability language by imposing financial penalties on states and school districts only if students in different demographic groups fall below one third of the required annual progress. Schools, meanwhile, would be able to average test scores school-wide to avoid being penalized if students in certain demographic groups do poorly.

HSLDA is awaiting the release of final S. 1 language to see if the Senate Education Committee Chairman, Sen. Jim Jeffords accepted our proposed changes to protect home schoolers.

Meanwhile, on the House side, Republican and Democrat committee aides also reached a tentative agreement over the weekend that could smooth committee consideration this week of the House's education bill (House Resolution 1). The agreement would target half of federal education money at specific programs---such as teacher training and improved education for low-income students---while allowing school districts to decide how to spend the other half. In exchange for flexibility, districts would have to show improved student performance.

President Bush proposed letting states decide how to spend most federal education money, but Democrats said his plan would not make states accountable for student performance. As part of the agreement forged this weekend, Republicans will offer Bush's proposal for statewide spending flexibility as a floor amendment.

HSLDA has also provided suggested amendments to H.R. 1. Bill language was released earlier on Monday and staff is reading through the bill's 1,300 pages to see if our changes were incorporated.

The House Education and the Workforce Committee is scheduled to begin marking up its version of the education bill Wednesday.

 Other Resources

H.R. 1—No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

S. 1—Better Education for Students and Teachers Act