NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Fate Of "Straight A's" Education Plan Rests With Senate

February 17, 2000

The House of Representatives has already passed a pilot version of an education plan called "Straight A's" -- which stands for Academic Achievement for All. The thrust of the program is to give individual states responsibility for student improvement, and allow the states to fail or succeed on their own terms -- without federal meddling.

Here is how it would work:

  • States could, if they choose, sign a contract with Washington to boost their students' academic achievement by specified amounts.
  • Participating states and districts would be freed from the federal yoke and be able to take those actions that they believe are most likely to succeed.
  • After five years, states which reach their goals retain their freedom -- while those which fail fall again under federal regulations.
  • To ensure that states give special attention to low-income groups, a $2.5 billion reward fund would be created for those that dramatically narrow the achievement gap between low-income students and everyone else.

Some 15 governors have already signaled their support of the plan, but the National Governors' Association opposes it. Instead, they propose half-hearted reforms, critics say, that leave the federal bureaucracy still in the driver's seat.

The decision is now up to the Senate -- which appears ready to embrace the NGA's proposal.

Source: William Bennett and Chester Finn Jr., "Straight Failure to 'Straight A's'" Washington Times, February 16, 2000.


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