NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Clinton Wants To Repeat Failed Education Policies, Critics Say

May 21, 1999

While Republicans aim to give local school districts and states more latitude in spending the money they get from Washington, President Clinton's new education initiative would place more restrictions on funds.

Education authority Chester Finn, former assistant secretary of education, called Clinton's proposal "amazingly audacious" and "a huge federal power grab." He added, "I can't even imagine the regulatory apparatus needed to police some of these things."

Donald McAdams, a member of Houston's school board, described Clinton's approach as "the same old thinking that Washington knows best and we need to do it their way even though there is no evidence that their way is working."

  • Under Clinton's plan, 95 percent of teachers in each state would have to have full teaching certificates within four years and new secondary school teachers -- but not existing ones -- would have to pass state tests in their subject area.
  • All schools receiving Title I funds would be required to make their schools uniform across the district.
  • States would be "encouraged" to develop a single system for holding all schools accountable for student performance -- as well as identifying low performing districts and distributing report cards on schools.
  • While the plan would require schools to end social promotions, Clinton says schools must do this "not by holding students back, but by making sure they have the support to meet the higher standards."

Federal money makes up only about 7 percent of total spending on elementary and secondary education, but critics say that over the past few decades it has increasingly brought a disproportionate amount of control over local schools.

They warn this control would likely increase under the Clinton plan.

Source: Anna Bray Duff, "Clinton's Education Power Grab," Investor's Business Daily, May 20, 1999.


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