May 2, 2001

HSLDA Attends Education Leaders Council (ELC) - Hill Insiders Unsure of H.R. 1 Final Language.

WASHINGTON D.C.—Some legislators and educators have high hopes for President Bush's No Child Left Behind plan. Home School Legal Defense Association is carefully monitoring the plan to see what shape it will finally take in legislative terms as markup is expected to take place in the House today. "The president's plan gives America an opportunity to change education more drastically than any other time in our nation's history," said Congressman Howard Buck McKeon (R-CA) during an Education Leaders Council's (ELC) briefing on April 24 and 25.

But this meeting also revealed that "most Capitol Hill insiders are not confident what language will come out of President Bush's education plan," noted HSLDA's Samuel Redfern, who attended the ELC briefing on H.R. 1---The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Also attending were several key education staffers, and congressmen.

ELC is a national organization of reform-minded state education chiefs who oversee the education of over 14 million children---more than 30 percent of the nations K12 public school students. Other ELC members include some full state boards of education and individual state and local education board members from 31 states.

Key speakers at the briefing included House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Boehner (R-OH), 21st Century Competitiveness Subcommittee Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-CA), Education Reform Subcommittee Chairman Michael Castle (R-CA), Empower America co-director and former Education Secretary William Bennett, Edison Schools CEO Chris Whittle, SchoolNet Vice President Denis Doyle, and Hosts Corporation's Dave Barton.

On April 24, the meeting focused on using technology to improve academic achievement, particularly looking at the technology provisions in President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind education plan, or H.R. 1.

"Our mission is to provide all students---rich or poor, Anglo or minority---with the best education possible by empowering parents and teachers," said Congressman McKeon. "Specifically, we will focus on closing the achievement gap between disadvantaged students and their peers. In regards to technology, it should be an important tool in improving academic achievement in the classroom."

"By streamlining duplicative technology programs under H.R. 1, more dollars will make it to the classroom to allow schools to more effectively use technology and help students learn," said Linda Schrenko, Georgia state superintendent of schools and a speaker on the ELC forum---"Using Technology Effectively to Drive Student Achievement".

McKeon said the House Education and the Workforce Committee will begin action on H.R. 1 this week. By condensing redundant technology programs into a single performance-based technology grant program, H.R. 1 will send more money to schools and target specific needs of individual schools. The bill also ensures that schools will not have to submit multiple grant applications and incur administrative burdens to obtain education technology funding.

"We must continue our efforts to reform the current maze of federal education programs, especially in technology areas," Lisa Graham Keegan, Arizona superintendent of public instruction, challenged attendees. "Obviously, the students of today are the workers of tomorrow. With our help, the future of our nation's youth can be very bright."

On Wednesday, April 25, ELC sponsored a second forum covering President Bush's entire No Child Left Behind plan and H.R. 1. Speakers were Education Secretary Rod Paige, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Boehner (R-OH), and Education Reform Subcommittee Chairman Michael Castle (R-CA).

"Education is the lighting of a fire . . . and our fire is slowing " said Boehner, "Children in America are not getting the quality education that they need."

Noting that markup [on H.R. 1] should begin early this week, he added, "How long that will take nobody knows. The bill should be on the floor by mid to late May. What will happen in committee I don't know. What will happen on the floor, I wouldn't want to guess."

Boehner emphasized his commitment to passing the president's original language but said, "I am committed to a bipartisan approach if at all possible. That may not be possible. But I am making every effort I can to make sure that Mr. Miller and the Democrats and I are trying to bridge some of the differences, and there are certainly differences, on the other side."

During the question and answer time, HSLDA asked Congressman Boehner if there are any provisions in H.R. 1 that should concern home schoolers.

"No, there are not, the congressman answered, They (home schoolers) are well-protected in the current law and I expect that will continue in this legislation."

 Other Resources

H.R. 1óNo Child Left Behind Act of 2001