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106th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session                                                    106-386

======================================================================



 
          ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT FOR ALL ACT (STRAIGHT A's ACT)

                                _______


October 15, 1999.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

   Mr. Goodling, from the Committee on Education and the Workforce, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

              SUPPLEMENTAL, MINORITY AND ADDITIONAL VIEWS

                        [To accompany H.R. 2300]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

  The Committee on Education and the Workforce, to whom was 
referred the bill (H.R. 2300) to allow a State to combine 
certain funds to improve the academic achievement of all its 
students, having considered the same, report favorably thereon 
with an amendment and recommend that the bill as amended do 
pass.
  The amendment is as follows:
  Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu 
thereof the following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

  This Act may be cited as the ``Academic Achievement for All Act 
(Straight A's Act)''.

SEC. 2. PURPOSE.

  The purpose of this Act is to create options for States and 
communities--
          (1) to improve the academic achievement of all students, and 
        to focus the resources of the Federal Government upon such 
        achievement;
          (2) to improve teacher quality and subject matter mastery, 
        especially in math, reading, and science;
          (3) to empower parents and schools to effectively address the 
        needs of their children and students;
          (4) to give States and communities maximum freedom in 
        determining how to boost academic achievement and implement 
        education reforms;
          (5) to eliminate Federal barriers to implementing effective 
        State and local education programs;
          (6) to hold States and communities accountable for boosting 
        the academic achievement of all students, especially 
        disadvantaged children; and
          (7) to narrow achievement gaps between the lowest and highest 
        performing groups of students so that no child is left behind.

SEC. 3. PERFORMANCE AGREEMENT.

  (a) Program Authorized.--A State may, at its option, execute a 
performance agreement with the Secretary under which the provisions of 
law described in section 4(a) shall not apply to such State except as 
otherwise provided in this Act.
  (b) Local Input.--States shall provide parents, teachers, and local 
schools and districts notice and opportunity to comment on any proposed 
performance agreement prior to submission to the Secretary as provided 
under general State law notice and comment provisions.
  (c) Approval of Performance Agreement.--A performance agreement 
submitted to the Secretary under this section shall be considered as 
approved by the Secretary within 60 days after receipt of the 
performance agreement unless the Secretary provides a written 
determination to the State that the performance agreement fails to 
satisfy the requirements of this Act before the expiration of the 60-
day period.
  (d) Terms of Performance Agreement.--Each performance agreement 
executed pursuant to this Act shall include the following provisions:
          (1) Term.--A statement that the term of the performance 
        agreement shall be 5 years.
          (2) Application of program requirements.--A statement that no 
        program requirements of any program included by the State in 
        the performance agreement shall apply, except as otherwise 
        provided in this Act.
          (3) List.--A list provided by the State of the programs that 
        it wishes to include in the performance agreement.
          (4) Use of funds to improve student achievement.--A 5-year 
        plan describing how the State intends to combine and use the 
        funds from programs included in the performance agreement to 
        advance the education priorities of the State, improve student 
        achievement, and narrow achievement gaps between students.
          (5) Accountability requirements.--If a State includes any 
        part of title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act 
        of 1965 in its performance agreement, the State shall include a 
        certification that the State has done the following:
                  (A)(i) developed and implemented the challenging 
                State content standards, challenging State student 
                performance standards, and aligned assessments 
                described in section 1111(b) of the Elementary and 
                Secondary Education Act of 1965; or
                  (ii) developed and implemented a system to measure 
                the degree of change from one school year to the next 
                in student performance;
                  (B) developed and is implementing a statewide 
                accountability system that has been or is reasonably 
                expected to be effective in substantially increasing 
                the numbers and percentages of all students who meet 
                the State's proficient and advanced levels of 
                performance;
                  (C) established a system under which assessment 
                information may be disaggregated within each State, 
                local educational agency, and school by each major 
                racial and ethnic group, gender, English proficiency 
                status, migrant status, and by economically 
                disadvantaged students as compared to students who are 
                not economically disadvantaged (except that such 
                disaggregation shall not be required in cases in which 
                the number of students in any such group is 
                insufficient to yield statistically reliable 
                information or would reveal the identity of an 
                individual student);
                  (D) established specific, measurable, numerical 
                performance objectives for student achievement, 
                including a definition of performance considered to be 
                proficient by the State on the academic assessment 
                instruments described under subparagraph (A);
                  (E) developed and implemented a statewide system for 
                holding its local educational agencies and schools 
                accountable for student performance that includes--
                          (i) a procedure for identifying local 
                        educational agencies and schools in need of 
                        improvement, using the assessments described 
                        under subparagraph (A);
                          (ii) assisting and building capacity in local 
                        educational agencies and schools identified as 
                        in need of improvement to improve teaching and 
                        learning; and
                          (iii) implementing corrective actions after 
                        no more than 3 years if the assistance and 
                        capacity building under clause (ii) is not 
                        effective.
          (6) Performance goals.--
                  (A) Student academic achievement.--Each State shall 
                establish annual student performance goals for the 5-
                year term of the performance agreement that, at a 
                minimum--
                          (i) establish a single high standard of 
                        performance for all students;
                          (ii) take into account the progress of 
                        students from every local educational agency 
                        and school in the State;
                          (iii) are based primarily on the State's 
                        challenging content and student performance 
                        standards and assessments described under 
                        paragraph (5)(A);
                          (iv) include specific annual improvement 
                        goals in each subject and grade included in the 
                        State assessment system, which must include, at 
                        a minimum, reading or language arts and math;
                          (v) compares the proportions of students at 
                        the ``basic'', ``proficient'', and ``advanced'' 
                        levels of performance (as defined by the State) 
                        with the proportions of students at each of the 
                        3 levels in the same grade in the previous 
                        school year;
                          (vi) includes annual numerical goals for 
                        improving the performance of each group 
                        specified in paragraph (5)(C) and narrowing 
                        gaps in performance between the highest and 
                        lowest performing students in accordance with 
                        section 10(b); and
                          (vii) requires all students in the State to 
                        make substantial gains in achievement.
                  (B) Additional indicators of performance.--A State 
                may identify in the performance agreement any 
                additional indicators of performance such as 
                graduation, dropout, or attendance rates.
                  (C) Consistency of performance measures.--A State 
                shall maintain, at a minimum, the same level of 
                challenging State student performance standards and 
                assessments throughout the term of the performance 
                agreement.
          (7) Fiscal responsibilities.--An assurance that the State 
        will use fiscal control and fund accounting procedures that 
        will ensure proper disbursement of, and accounting for, Federal 
        funds paid to the State under this Act.
          (8) Civil rights.--An assurance that the State will meet the 
        requirements of applicable Federal civil rights laws.
          (9) Private school participation.--
                  (A) Equitable participation.--An assurance that the 
                State will provide for the equitable participation of 
                students and professional staff in private schools.
                  (B) Application of bypass.--An assurance that 
                sections 14504, 14505, and 14506 of the Elementary and 
                Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 8894, 8895, 
                and 8896) shall apply to all services and assistance 
                provided under this Act in the same manner as they 
                apply to services and assistance provided in accordance 
                with section 14503 of such Act.
          (10) State financial participation.--An assurance that the 
        State will not reduce the level of spending of State funds for 
        elementary and secondary education during the term of the 
        performance agreement.
          (11) Annual report.--An assurance that not later than 1 year 
        after the execution of the performance agreement, and annually 
        thereafter, each State shall disseminate widely to parents and 
        the general public, submit to the Secretary, distribute to 
        print and broadcast media, and post on the Internet, a report 
        that includes--
                  (A) student academic performance data, disaggregated 
                as provided in paragraph (5)(C); and
                  (B) a detailed description of how the State has used 
                Federal funds to improve student academic performance 
                and reduce achievement gaps to meet the terms of the 
                performance agreement.
  (e) Special Rule.--If a State does not include any part of title I of 
the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 in its performance 
agreement, the State shall--
          (1) certify that it has developed a system to measure the 
        academic performance of all students; and
          (2) establish challenging academic performance goals for such 
        other programs using academic assessment data described in 
        paragraph (5).
  (f) Amendment to Performance Agreement.--A State may submit an 
amendment to the performance agreement to the Secretary under the 
following circumstances:
          (1) Reduce scope of performance agreement.--Not later than 1 
        year after the execution of the performance agreement, a State 
        may amend the performance agreement through a request to 
        withdraw a program from such agreement. If the Secretary 
        approves the amendment, the requirements of existing law shall 
        apply for any program withdrawn from the performance agreement.
          (2) Expand scope of performance agreement.--Not later than 1 
        year after the execution of the performance agreement, a State 
        may amend its performance agreement to include additional 
        programs and performance indicators for which it will be held 
        accountable.
          (3) Approval of amendment.--An amendment submitted to the 
        Secretary under this subsection shall be considered as approved 
        by the Secretary within 60 days after receipt of the amendment 
        unless the Secretary provides a written determination to the 
        State that the performance agreement if amended by the 
        amendment would fail to satisfy the requirements of this Act, 
        before the expiration of the 60-day period.

SEC. 4. ELIGIBLE PROGRAMS.

  (a) Eligible Programs.--The provisions of law referred to in section 
3(a) except as otherwise provided in subsection (b), are as follows:
          (1) Part A of title I of the Elementary and Secondary 
        Education Act of 1965.
          (2) Part B of title I of the Elementary and Secondary 
        Education Act of 1965.
          (3) Part C of title I of the Elementary and Secondary 
        Education Act of 1965.
          (4) Part D of title I of the Elementary and Secondary 
        Education Act of 1965.
          (5) Part B of title II of the Elementary and Secondary 
        Education Act of 1965.
          (6) Section 3132 of title III of the Elementary and Secondary 
        Education Act of 1965.
          (7) Title IV of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 
        1965.
          (8) Title VI of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 
        1965.
          (9) Section 307 of the Department of Education Appropriation 
        Act of 1999.
          (10) Comprehensive school reform programs as authorized under 
        section 1502 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 
        1965 and described on pages 96-99 of the Joint Explanatory 
        Statement of the Committee of Conference included in House 
        Report 105-390 (Conference Report on the Departments of Labor, 
        Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies 
        Appropriations Act, 1998).
          (11) Part C of title VII of the Elementary and Secondary 
        Education Act of 1965.
          (12) Title III of the Goals 2000: Educate America Act.
          (13) Sections 115 and 116, and parts B and C of title I of 
        the Carl D. Perkins Vocational Technical Education Act.
          (14) Subtitle B of title VII of the Stewart B. McKinney 
        Homeless Assistance Act.
  (b) Allocations to States.--A State may choose to consolidate funds 
from any or all of the programs described in subsection (a) without 
regard to the program requirements of the provisions referred to in 
such subsection, except that the proportion of funds made available for 
national programs and allocations to each State for State and local 
use, under such provisions, shall remain in effect unless otherwise 
provided.
  (c) Uses of Funds.--Funds made available under this Act to a State 
shall be used for any elementary and secondary educational purposes 
permitted by State law of the participating State.

SEC. 5. WITHIN-STATE DISTRIBUTION OF FUNDS.

  (a) In General.--The distribution of funds from programs included in 
a performance agreement from a State to a local educational agency 
within the State shall be determined by the Governor of the State and 
the State legislature. In a State in which the constitution or State 
law designates another individual, entity, or agency to be responsible 
for education, the allocation of funds from programs included in the 
performance agreement from a State to a local educational agency within 
the State shall be determined by that individual, entity, or agency, 
inconsultation with the Governor and State Legislature. Nothing in this 
section shall be construed to supersede or modify any provision of a 
State constitution or State law.
  (b) Local Input.--States shall provide parents, teachers, and local 
schools and districts notice and opportunity to comment on the proposed 
allocation of funds as provided under general State law notice and 
comment provisions.
  (c) Local Hold Harmless of Part A Title 1 Funds.--
          (1) In general.--In the case of a State that includes part A 
        of title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 
        1965 in the performance agreement, the agreement shall provide 
        an assurance that each local educational agency shall receive 
        under the performance agreement an amount equal to or greater 
        than the amount such agency received under part A of title I of 
        such Act in the fiscal year preceding the fiscal year in which 
        the performance agreement is executed.
          (2) Proportionate reduction.--If the amount made available to 
        the State from the Secretary for a fiscal year is insufficient 
        to pay to each local educational agency the amount made 
        available under part A of title I of the Elementary and 
        Secondary Education Act of 1965 to such agency for the 
        preceding fiscal year, the State shall reduce the amount each 
        local educational agency receives by a uniform percentage.

SEC. 6. LOCAL PARTICIPATION.

  (a) Nonparticipating State.--
          (1) In general.--If a State chooses not to submit a 
        performance agreement under this Act, any local educational 
        agency in such State is eligible, at its option, to submit to 
        the Secretary a performance agreement in accordance with this 
        section.
          (2) Agreement.--The terms of a performance agreement between 
        an eligible local educational agency and the Secretary shall 
        specify the programs to be included in the performance 
        agreement, as agreed upon by the State and the agency, from the 
        list under section 4(a).
  (b) State Approval.--When submitting a performance agreement to the 
Secretary, an eligible local educational agency described in subsection 
(a) shall provide written documentation from the State in which such 
agency is located that it has no objection to the agency's proposal for 
a performance agreement.
  (c) Application.--
          (1) In general.--Except as provided in this section, and to 
        the extent applicable, the requirements of this Act shall apply 
        to an eligible local educational agency that submits a 
        performance agreement in the same manner as the requirements 
        apply to a State.
          (2) Exceptions.--The following provisions shall not apply to 
        an eligible local educational agency:
                  (A) Within state distribution formula not 
                applicable.--The formula for the allocation of funds 
                under section 5 shall not apply.
                  (B) State set aside shall not apply.--The State set 
                aside for administrative funds in section 7 shall not 
                apply.

SEC. 7. LIMITATIONS ON STATE AND LOCAL EDUCATIONAL AGENCY 
                    ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENDITURES.

  (a) In General.--Except as otherwise provided under subsection (b), a 
State that includes part A of title I of the Elementary and Secondary 
Education Act of 1965 in the performance agreement may use not more 
than 1 percent of such total amount of funds allocated to such State 
under the programs included in the performance agreement for 
administrative purposes.
  (b) Exception.--A State that does not include part A of title I of 
the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 in the performance 
agreement may use not more than 3 percent of the total amount of funds 
allocated to such State under the programs included in the performance 
agreement for administrative purposes.
  (c) Local Educational Agency.--A local educational agency 
participating in this Act under a performance agreement under section 6 
may not use for administrative purposes more than 4 percent of the 
total amount of funds allocated to such agency under the programs 
included in the performance agreement.

SEC. 8. PERFORMANCE REVIEW.

  (a) Mid-Term Performance Review.--If, during the 5 year term of the 
performance agreement, student achievement significantly declines for 3 
consecutive years in the academic performance categories established in 
the performance agreement, the Secretary may, after notice and 
opportunity for a hearing, terminate the agreement
  (b) Failure To Meet Terms.--If at the end of the 5-year term of the 
performance agreement a State has not substantially met the performance 
goals submitted in the performance agreement, the Secretary shall, 
after notice and an opportunity for a hearing, terminate the 
performance agreement and the State shall be required to comply with 
the program requirements, in effect at the time of termination, for 
each program included in the performance agreement.
  (c) Penalty for Failure To Improve Student Performance.--If a State 
has made no progress toward achieving its performance goals by the end 
of the term of the agreement, the Secretary may reduce funds for State 
administrative costs for each program included in the performance 
agreement by up to 50 percent for each year of the 2-year period 
following the end of the term of the performance agreement.

SEC. 9. RENEWAL OF PERFORMANCE AGREEMENT.

  (a) Notification.--A State that wishes to renew its performance 
agreement shall notify the Secretary of its renewal request not less 
than 6 months prior to the end of the term of the performance 
agreement.
  (b) Renewal Requirements.--A State that has met or has substantially 
met its performance goals submitted in the performance agreement at the 
end of the 5-year term may reapply to the Secretary to renew its 
performance agreement for an additional 5-year period. Upon the 
completion of the 5-year term of the performance agreement or as soon 
thereafter as the State submits data required under the agreement, the 
Secretary shall renew, for an additional 5-year term, the performance 
agreement of any State that has met or has substantially met its 
performance goals.

SEC. 10. ACHIEVEMENT GAP REDUCTION REWARDS.

  (a) Closing the Gap Reward Fund.--
          (1) In general.--To reward States that make significant 
        progress in eliminating achievement gaps by raising the 
        achievement levels of the lowest performing students, the 
        Secretary shall set aside sufficient funds from the Fund for 
        the Improvement of Education under part A of title X of the 
        Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to grant a 
        reward to States that meet the conditions set forth in 
        subsection (b) by the end of their 5-year performance 
        agreement.
          (2) Reward amount.--The amount of the reward referred to in 
        paragraph (1) shall be not less than 5 percent of funds 
        allocated to the State during the first year of the performance 
        agreement for programs included in the agreement.
  (b) Conditions of Performance Reward.--Subject to paragraph (3), a 
State is eligible to receive a reward under this section as follows:
          (1) A State is eligible for such an award if the State 
        reduces by not less than 25 percent, over the 5-year term of 
        the performance agreement, the difference between the 
        percentage of highest and lowest performing groups of students 
        that meet the State's definition of ``proficient'' as 
        referenced in section 1111(b)(1)(D)(i)(II) of the Elementary 
        and Secondary Education Act of 1965.
          (2) A State is eligible for such an award if a State 
        increases the proportion of 2 or more groups of students under 
        section 3(d)(5)(C) that meet State proficiency standards by 25 
        percent.
          (3) A State shall receive such an award if the following 
        requirements are met:
                  (A) Content areas.--The reduction in the achievement 
                gap or approvement in achievement shall include not 
                less than 2 content areas, one of which shall be 
                mathematics or reading.
                  (B) Grades tested.--The reduction in the achievement 
                gap or improvement in achievement shall occur in at 
                least 2 grade levels.
  (c) Rule of Construction.--Student achievement gaps shall not be 
considered to have been reduced in circumstances where the average 
academic performance of the highest performing quintile of students has 
decreased.

SEC. 11. STRAIGHT A'S PERFORMANCE REPORT.

  The Secretary shall make the annual State reports described in 
section 3 available to the House Committee on Education and the 
Workforce and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and 
Pensions not later than 60 days after the Secretary receives the 
report.

SEC. 12. APPLICABILITY OF TITLE XIV OF THE ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY 
                    EDUCATION ACT OF 1965.

  To the extent that provisions of title XIV of the Elementary and 
Secondary Education Act of 1965 are inconsistent with this Act, this 
Act shall be construed as superseding such provisions.

SEC. 13. APPLICABILITY OF GENERAL EDUCATION PROVISIONS ACT.

  To the extent that the provisions of the General Education Provisions 
Act are inconsistent with this Act, this Act shall be construed as 
superseding such provisions, except where relating to civil rights, 
withholdling of funds and enforcement authority, and family educational 
and privacy rights.

SEC. 14. APPLICABILITY TO HOME SCHOOLS.

  Nothing in this Act shall be construed to affect home schools whether 
or not a home school is treated as a private school or home school 
under State law.

SEC. 15. GENERAL PROVISIONS REGARDING NON-RECIPIENT, NON-PUBLIC 
                    SCHOOLS.

  Nothing in this Act shall be construed to permit, allow, encourage, 
or authorize any Federal control over any aspect of any private, 
religious, or home school, whether or not a home school is treated as a 
private school or home school under State law.

SEC. 16. DEFINITIONS.

  For the purpose of this Act:
          (1) All students.--The term ``all students'' means all 
        students attending public schools or charter schools that are 
        participating in the State's accountability and assessment 
        system.
          (2) All schools.--The term ``all schools'' means all schools 
        that are participating in the State's accountability and 
        assessment system.
          (3) Local educational agency.--The term ``local educational 
        agency'' has the same meaning given such term in section 14101 
        of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 
        U.S.C. 8801).
          (4) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of 
        Education.
          (5) State.--The term ``State'' means each of the 50 States, 
        the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, 
        Guam, the United States Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of the 
        Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa.

                                Purpose

    The purpose of H.R. 2300, the ``Academic Achievement for 
All Act,'' is to focus federal resources for education on 
increasing student performance and narrowing achievement gaps. 
It gives States, school districts and schools the option of 
receiving additional flexibility in the use of fourteen state-
administered, Federal elementary and secondary education 
program funds in exchange for increased accountability for 
academic achievement.

                            Committee Action

    The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a 
field hearing on April 19, 1999 in Chicago, Illinois, on 
``Chicago Education Reforms and the Importance of Flexibility 
in Federal Education Programs.'' The hearing focused on the 
Chicago Public School system and its successful reforms which 
have produced rising scores, better attendance rates, and 
higher graduation numbers. Additionally, the hearing addressed 
how Congress can increase the amount of flexibility available 
to school districts such as Chicago. The Subcommittee received 
testimony from three panels of witnesses. First panel: Speaker 
of the U.S. House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert (R-IL). 
Second panel: Mr. Paul Vallas, Chief Executive Officer of 
Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, Illinois; and Dr. William 
Bennett, Co-director of Empower America, Washington, DC. Third 
panel: Dr. Hazel Loucks, Deputy Governor for Education, State 
of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois; Dr. Cynthia Barron, Principal, 
Jones Magnet High School, Chicago, Illinois; Mr. Glenn McGee, 
State Superintendent of Education, State of Illinois, 
Springfield, Illinois.
    The Full Committee on Education and the Workforce held a 
hearing on May 20, 1999 in Washington, DC. The hearing focused 
on issues raised by the Academic Achievement for All proposal 
(the Straight A's Act). The Committee received testimony from 
Dr. Chester E. Finn Jr., President, Thomas B. Fordham 
Foundation, Washington, DC; the Honorable Bret Schunder, Mayor, 
Jersey City, New Jersey; Dr. William Moloney, Commissioner of 
Education, Colorado Department of Education, Denver, Colorado; 
the Honorable Ralph M. Tanner, Kansas State Representative, 
District 10, Baldwin City, Kansas; and Ms. Jennifer A. 
Marshall, Education Policy Analyst, Family Research Council, 
Washington, DC.
    The Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families 
held a hearing on June 9, 1999, in Washington, DC. The hearing 
focused on various accountability policies implemented by 
States and school districts over the past decade, how these 
systems have helped to improve student achievement, and how 
these systems are being implemented in different ways around 
the country. The Committee received testimony from two panels 
of witnesses. First panel: the Honorable Tommy G. Thompson, 
Governor, State of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin; and the 
Honorable Frank Brogan, Lieutenant Governor, State of Florida, 
Tallahassee, Florida. Second panel: Dr. Susan Sclafani, Chief 
of Staff for Education Services, Houston Independent School 
District, Houston, Texas; Mr. Andy Plattner, Chairman, A-Plus 
Communications, Arlington, Virginia; Dr. Kathryn Jane Massey-
Wilson, Superintendent, West Point Public Schools, West Point, 
Virginia; Ms. Stay Boyd, Project Achieve, San Francisco, 
California; and Ms. Kati Haycock, Director, Education Trust, 
Washington, DC.

                           Legislative Action

    On June 22, 1999, Representative Bill Goodling (R-PA) 
introduced H.R. 2300, the Academic Achievements for All Act 
(Straight A's Act). The Committee on Education and the 
Workforce considered H.R. 2300 with an Amendment in the Nature 
of a Substitute in legislative session on October 13, 1999, 
during which two amendments were considered on which two roll 
call votes were taken. The Committee on Education and the 
Workforce with a majority of the Committee present, favorably 
reported H.R. 2300, to the House by a vote of 26 to 19, on 
October 13, 1999.

                            Committee Views


                         Historical Perspective

The compliance-based Federal role

    Since 1965, when Washington embarked on its first major 
elementary-secondary education initiative, federal policy has 
strongly influenced America's schools. Although education is 
generally considered a State responsibility, over the years 
Congress has created hundreds of programs to address a myriad 
of problems. Today, the federal government pursues its 
education agenda through a wide range of programs; over sixty 
of them, worth about $14 billion, are included in the 
Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), which 
was last reauthorized in 1994. While federal dollars make up 
only about seven percent of America's total budget for K-12 
education, Washington's role is significant when it comes to 
setting State and local priorities and determining the tenor 
and content of the national conversation about education.\1\ 
And yet despite that significant role, there is little evidence 
that student achievement has increased and achievement gaps 
have narrowed as a result. While States and school districts 
have sought to comply with Federal requirements, too often 
those requirements have had very little to do with improving 
student performance. As William Moloney, Superintendent of 
Colorado Schools, described it for the Committee earlier this 
year, ``ESEA [has] remained as always a neutral phenomena based 
on inputs rather than results, more on accounting than 
accountability, an entity always more interested in what you 
were rather than what you were doing.'' \2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\ Chester Finn, Jr., Marci Kanstoroom, Michael Petrilli, 
``Overview: Thirty-Four Years of Dashed Hopes,'' New Directions: 
Federal Education Policy in the Twenty-First Century, The Thomas B. 
Fordham Foundation, March, 1999.
    \2\ Testimony of William Moloney, Superintendent of Colorado 
Schools, Committee on Education and the Workforce, May 20, 1999.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Federal programs place bureaucratic and regulatory burdens 
                    on all State and local school districts
    After decades of spending billions on federal education 
research and evaluation programs, very little is known about 
the effectiveness of the scores of federal elementary and 
secondary education programs administered by the U.S. 
Department of Education.Consequently, Congress lacks adequate 
data to determine what really works and what does not.
    The largest Federal elementary and secondary education 
program, Title I, has been evaluated, but has yet to 
demonstrate that it is effectively narrowing achievement. 
Today, even though the law requires States to ``turn-around'' 
low-performing schools, there are nearly 7,000 Title I schools 
and about 1,000 school districts that are officially designated 
as in need of ``improvement''--that are failing to make 
adequate progress. The final report of the Prospects evaluation 
of Chapter 1 (later renamed as Title I) found that the program 
did not appear to help at-risk students in high-poverty schools 
to close their academic achievement gaps with students in low-
poverty schools.\3\ And most recently, early data available 
from the evaluation of 1994 reauthorization of Title I does not 
yet indicate that the program is more effectively narrowing 
achievement gaps. The interim report found that students in the 
study performed ``somewhat below national and urban norms,'' 
and were ``showing somewhat less progress than would be 
expected over a full year.'' The proportion of students meeting 
the highest proficiency levels just held steady during the two 
years of data made available.\4\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \3\ Michael J. Puma, Nancy Karweit, Cristofer Price, Anne Ricciuti, 
William Thompson, and Michael Vanden-Kiernan. Prospects: Final Report 
on Student Outcomes, Cambridge, MA: Abt Associations, 1997.
    \4\ The Longitudinal Evaluation of School Change and Performance in 
Title I Schools (LESCP): Interim Report to Congress, U.S. Department of 
Education, June, 1999, pgs. xvi-xvii.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Because Federal education programs have historically been 
compliance and not performance-based, they generate a large 
amount of paperwork and require thousands of bureaucrats to 
administer the programs. Some examples of this burden are as 
follows:
    Burdensome Paperwork Requirements: Even after accounting 
for recent reductions, the U.S. Department of Education still 
requires over 40 million hours worth of paperwork per year--the 
equivalent of 19,300 employees working full-time for a year.\5\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \5\ U.S. Department of Education, Annual Performance Plan, FY2000.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Thousands of Federally-funded employees at the State level: 
The Department of Education is one of the smallest Federal 
agencies. Yet, to administer all the Federal education programs 
within the States, there are nearly three times as many 
Federally funded employees working in State education agencies, 
as there are within the Federal Department of Education itself. 
According to GAO, there are about 13,400 FTEs (full-time 
equivalents) funded with Federal dollars to administer these 
programs.\6\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \6\ U.S. General Accounting Office, Education Finance: The Extent 
of Federal Funding in State Education Agencies, GAO/HEHS-95-3, October 
1995, p. 11.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    A 487 Step Discretionary Grant Process: In 1993, Vice-
President Al Gore's National Performance Review discovered that 
the Department of Education's discretionary grant process 
lasted 26 weeks and took 487 steps from start to finish. It was 
not until three years later in 1996 that the Department finally 
took steps to begin ``streamlining'' their long and protracted 
grant review process, a process that has yet to be completed 
and fully implemented. According to the Department, once the 
streamlining is fully implemented it will only take an average 
of 20 weeks and 216 steps to complete a review.\7\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \7\ U.S. Department of Education Report, ``A Redesigned 
Discretionary Grant Process''--Vice President Gore's National 
Performance Review 1995. Redesigned process is due to be in place in 
1998.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The cumulative effect of federally designed programs and 
requirements takes its toll at the State and local level. Frank 
Brogan, the former Florida Commissioner of Education who is now 
Florida's Lieutenant Governor, noted the extent of the command 
and control approach of Washington bureaucrats. In testimony on 
May 5, 1998, he stated,

          In practice, most federal education programs typify 
        the misguided, one size fits all command and control 
        approach that we in the States are abandoning. Most 
        have the requisite focus on inputs like more 
        regulation, increasing budgets and fixed options and 
        processes. Conceptualized in Washington, with all good 
        intentions, federal education programs often get 
        translated into the growing bureaucratic thicket and 
        prove counterproductive.

    Brogan further noted that in Florida, because of Federal 
requirements, there are 297 State employees to oversee and 
administer approximately $1 billion in Federal funds. By 
contrast, 374 State-funded positions oversee and administer 
over $8 billion in State funds. Thus, six times as many people 
are required to administer a Federal dollar as a State dollar.
    The State of Georgia has also found federal programs to 
require a disproportionate number of administrators. Georgia 
State Superintendent Linda Schrenko, who spent eighteen years 
as a public school teacher and principal, testified about the 
excessive administrative requirements of Federal programs. She 
noted that about 6.4 percent of the $9.45 billion total 
education budget in Georgia (from all sources-Federal, State 
and local) in 1996-97 came from the Federal government. In that 
same year, the Georgia Department of Education had 322 
employees, of whom 93 worked full-time filling out paperwork 
and administering the federal programs. In effect, this 
amounted to 29 percent of their employees administering the 6.4 
percent of funds that came from Washington.
    Federal education programs are for the most part one-size-
fits-all solutions to problems that vary widely from state to 
state. Every State has different needs and priorities, and the 
paperwork and bureaucratic requirements that accompany federal 
programs often prevent them from best addressing these issues. 
States often have to plan their agendas around prescriptive 
federal constraints, as well as overlapping and often 
conflicting program requirements. Given that we do not even 
have sufficient data demonstrating the effectiveness of Federal 
programs, and the burdens necessarily placed on State and local 
school districts as a result, the Federal government should 
expand flexibility in federal programs. As much as possible it 
should defer to the States and local school districts to design 
their own programs for ensuring that all children receive a 
high quality education, while at the same time making sure that 
taxpayers receive their money's worth by ensuring that federal 
investments in education improve performance.
    Those States and school districts on the cutting edge of 
reform, with a proven track record of improving student 
achievement, should be granted the most flexibility to educate 
theirstudents. If a State has demonstrated that it is 
effectively improving student achievement, the Federal government 
should empower those efforts, and not require the implementation of 
federal one-size-fits all programs. Texas' statewide accountability 
system, for example, has produced significant achievement gains. Its 
education policy has served as the basis of much of what is new in the 
Committee's reauthorization of Title I. It is the Committee's view that 
Texas and other States that are producing results should not 
necessarily have to implement a Federal program that is in many ways an 
imperfect attempt to reproduce their State's own effective education 
policy: they should have the option of entering into a performance 
based relationship with the Secretary and be freed from constraining 
federal requirements.
            Learning from States and local school districts
    H.R. 2300, the Straight A's Act, is based on the principle 
that holding States and local school districts accountable for 
meeting challenging performance goals, while at the same time 
granting them freedom and flexibility to use those funds, will 
produce results. This has been demonstrated in States like 
Texas and in cites like Chicago, where flexibility to innovate 
combined with high standards of achievement have produced 
significant gains in achievement. The Committee has heard 
testimony from individuals representing these states and cities 
who have asked Congress to grant them the freedom to have a 
more performance based relationship with the U.S. Department of 
Education.
            Chicago
    Chicago has recently seen tremendous results under a regime 
of increased accountability for results and freedom from 
certain State mandates and regulations. Flexibility in funding 
from the State enabled them to balance the Chicago Public 
Schools budget for the last four years and to negotiate two 
four-year contracts with their teachers. It has allowed them to 
create after-school and summer school programs targeted on 
students who are doing poorly in reading and math. With the 
flexibility they received, they have been able to expand 
preschool programs, create new opportunities for gifted 
students who have been difficult to retain within the public 
school system. All these changes have benefited their students, 
but particularly students from low-income families, students 
with poor academic performance, students who don't speak 
English, and students with disabilities.
    Within the context of this flexibility, Chicago has seen 
its test scores rise for three years, across the board, on 
standardized testing, the State's tests, and college entrance 
exams. Graduation rates are up and dropout rates are down. 
Attendance has improved everywhere, and enrollment continues to 
rise as people once more choose the public schools. Many of the 
problems confronting public education can be solved, as they 
are demonstrating in Chicago. According to Chicago Public 
Schools Superintendent Paul Vallas in his testimony before the 
Committee earlier this year, ``Mayor Daley noted in a speech to 
the National Press Club [that] we have more students than the 
public school systems of Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, Denver, 
Minneapolis, St. Paul and Pittsburgh combined. If we can 
improve, so can the other urban districts.'' \8\ And according 
to Vallas, there is more to be done: ``With the federal 
government as a partner, not a puppet master pulling strings, 
the Chicago Public Schools can do even more.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \8\ Testimony of Paul Vallas, Superintendent of Chicago Public 
Schools, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Committee on 
Education and the Workforce, April 19, 1999.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Superintendent Vallas also expressed his desire for 
increased flexibility in their federal funding:

          ``Simply put, what we want is greater flexibility in 
        the use of federal funds coupled with greater 
        accountability for achieving the desired results. We in 
        Chicago, for example, would be delighted to enter into 
        a contract with the Department of Education, specifying 
        what we would achieve with our students, and with 
        selected groups of students. And we would work 
        diligently to fulfill--and exceed--the terms of such a 
        contract. We would be held accountable for the 
        result.'' \9\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \9\ Ibid.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Narrowing achievement gaps in Texas
    The Federal role in education historically has been to 
ensure that disadvantaged students--especially poor students 
and students from racial minorities--have access to an 
excellent education. If we are serious about demanding results, 
then we must demand results for the poorest and neediest of our 
children, just as we do for all other children.
    Currently, Texas is the best State in which to attend 
school if you are poor, of limited English proficiency, or 
belong to a racial or ethnic minority group. Texas's 
accountability system has accelerated the rate of learning for 
these groups more than any other system in the country. We 
should learn from Texas at the federal level to ensure that no 
child is left behind
    Texas has also demonstrated how increased flexibility 
within the context of increased accountability for performance 
can produce achievement gains for disadvantaged students. Using 
Ed-Flex, Texas has essentially given its school districts the 
flexibility to allocate Title I funds to schools on the basis 
of need, not only on the level of poverty with a school. The 
testimony \10\ of Madeleine Manigold, the coordinator of State 
and Federal waivers for the Texas Education Agency, indicates 
that preliminary test results in Texas show that Ed-Flex 
schoolwide waivers have been very successful in improving 
academic achievement for all populations of students in reading 
and mathematics. In order to hold Title I schools and districts 
accountable for improving student performance, Texas requires 
them make enough gain each year so that in five years 90 
percent of all students, and 90 percent of all African 
American, Hispanic, Caucasian and economically disadvantaged 
students will be passing the State's assessment instruments in 
reading and math. For the period 1996-1998, Texas achieved this 
goal for all students and all groups of students, including 
African American, Hispanic, and economically disadvantaged 
students.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \10\ Testimony of Madeleine Draeger Manigold, Coordinator of State 
and Federal Waivers, Texas Education Agency, at hearing of Subcommittee 
on Early Childhood, Youth and Families on February 25, 1999.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Even more important is the fact that the performance gap is 
closing at schools with Ed-Flex Title I schoolwide waivers at 
an even greater rate than in the State of Texas as a whole, as 
earlier mentioned. Greater flexibility at the school level 
appears to be producing results.
     In 1998, the number of schools rated ``Exemplary'' 
increased by 150 percent over the number earning that rating in 
1997, and increased by 15-fold over the number earning that 
rating in 1994.
     In 1998, the number of schools rated 
``Recognized'' increased only slightly over the number earning 
that rating in 1997, and increased by six fold over the number 
earning that rating in 1994.
     Among the 39 States that participated in the 1996 
NAEP in fourth-grade math, Texas finished in the top 10, along 
with States such as Maine, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, which 
have far fewer low-income and minority students.
     The State's African-American fourth-graders and 
Title I fourth-graders scored higher in math, on average, than 
their counterparts in every other State, and its Hispanic 
children finished sixth.
     White fourth-graders in Texas had the highest 
average math score in the nation.
     Between 1992 and 1996, the percentage of Texas 
fourth-graders achieving at or above the NAEP's ``proficient'' 
level in math rose from 15 to 25 percent far outstripping 
improvements nationwide. Similarly, the share of Texas children 
scoring below the ``basic'' level fell from 44 to 31 percent 
during the same period. In reading, the percentage of Texas 
fourth-graders achieving ``at or above proficient'' increased 
from 28 to 31 percent from 1992 to 1998. The percent of 
students scoring below basic dropped from 43 to 37 percent.
    Like every other State, however, Texas still has a broad 
racial chasm: In fourth grade math, 53 percent of African-
Americans, and 45 percent of Hispanics scored below the 
``basic'' level, compared with 15% of whites. But the gap is 
narrowing faster there than in any other State. Texas has 
proven that by shining light on how all categories of students 
perform, and not just the average, more schools begin to take 
the education of poor and minority students more seriously.
            Florida
    Governor Jeb Bush of Florida voiced his support of Straight 
A's in a House Budget Committee hearing on September 23, 1999. 
He described how his State was considered by independent 
sources such as Quality Counts to have standards that are among 
the top five States in the nation. As he described it,

          States like Florida that are moving toward a truly 
        accountable, performance-based and child-centered 
        system should be given regulatory and funding 
        flexibility to achieve their academic goals. It's time 
        to move away from the Washington-knows-best model, and 
        allow States that are willing to meet stringent 
        performance goals to have more flexibility.
          Because the A+Plan's accountability measures are so 
        potent, I believe that once fully implemented, the 
        A+Plan may do more good to help low-income children in 
        low-performing schools in five years than the Title I 
        program has done in our State in 35 years. Without 
        legislation like the Straight A's Act, Florida will not 
        be able to use federal funds to fully support our 
        reform efforts. But with the Straight A's Act, 
        Florida's school districts could use federal funds to 
        support their accountability-driven efforts in the 
        manner they believe best to address their local 
        solutions, whether those solutions are more technology, 
        smaller class sizes, a longer school year, or 
        individual tutoring.
          . . . I have come here to offer you more 
        accountability from Florida, in exchange for more 
        flexibility. We can increase the impact that federal 
        dollars will have on student learning in our State, if 
        we are provided with more freedom and less one-size-
        fits-all regulations from the federal government.''

    Florida is experimenting with the Straight A's concept 
within its own State, offering school districts the opportunity 
to become ``charter districts''--to receive freedom from 
regulations for agreeing to meet certain performance goals.
            Ed Flex is not enough to address the flexibility needs of 
                    the States
    Earlier this year the House passed H.R. 800, the Education 
Flexibility Partnership Act, which was signed into law on April 
27, 1999. This bill removed the 12 State limit on participants 
in this program, and strengthened accountability. However, Ed-
Flex was only a first step towards granting states the full 
range of flexibility options they need. Ed-Flex is designed to 
make federal programs work better at the local level in their 
current categorical structure by removing specific program 
requirements that are barriers to reform at the local level. 
For some States, Ed-Flex is sufficient. Others, however, are 
ready for additional flexibility and accountability.
    Moreover, according to a U.S. General Accounting Office 
report last September, Ed-Flex's narrowly structured waivers 
``generally do not address school districts' major concerns.'' 
The report concludes that ``federal flexibility efforts neither 
reduce districts' financial obligations nor provide additional 
federal dollars''; and, because the flexibility is limited to 
specific programs, the districts' ``ability to reduce 
administrative effort and streamline procedures is also 
limited.''
    Ed-Flex does not allow States to consolidate funds from 
different federal programs to use on their unique goals and 
priorities. For example, the priority of Arkansas Governor Mike 
Huckabee (R) in fiscal year (FY) 2000 is to equalize school 
funding. Governor Gray Davis (D) of California is investing in 
reading, teacher quality, and school accountability 
initiatives. And Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) is championing a 
school reform package that offers, among other things, 
scholarships to students in Florida's worst-performing schools 
toattend a school of their parents' choice. Under the Ed-Flex 
program federal funds cannot be combined into a sizeable sum to help 
States reach their goals more directly.\11\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \11\ Nina Rees and Kirk Johnson, Ph.D., Why a ``Super'' Ed-Flex 
Program is Needed to Boost Academic Achievement, The Heritage 
Foundation, March 5, 1999.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Because of the relatively limited flexibility it grants, 
Ed-Flex does not include strict accountability measures 
requiring federal funds to boost academic achievement. Ed-Flex 
States still are required to reach the goals of each individual 
program, however redundant those goals may be.

   Improving Academic Achievement through Freedom and Accountability

    Granting States and localities the flexibility to 
consolidate federal funding streams is not without precedent in 
Federal law:
     The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows 
States to enter into performance contracts, where States agree 
to meet certain environmental targets in exchange for receiving 
their grant money in the form of a consolidated grant.
     Insular areas are allowed under current law to 
receive their federal grants from multiple agencies in one 
grant to be used for purposes determined by the insular area.
     Schoolwide projects under Title I allow schools to 
combine all of their federal dollars for the purpose of 
improving the quality of the entire school and increasing 
student performance.
     In recent years Congress has allowed States to 
submit one consolidated application for most Federal education 
funds, and to consolidate administrative set-asides for those 
programs at the State and local level.

Learning from welfare reform

    Wisconsin's experience with waivers to implement their 
welfare program is an example of how States can sometimes more 
effectively address important issues when they are given the 
flexibility to design the program, while at the same time 
subject to high performance standards. Prior to the passage 
welfare reform legislation, the U.S. Department of Health and 
Human Services (HHS) granted States, like Wisconsin, waivers to 
implement large-scale efforts to reduce their welfare caseloads 
and find jobs for recipients. Wisconsin demonstrated that it 
could more effectively reduce welfare dependency in its State 
under their own program, significantly reducing the number of 
welfare recipients in the state. Wisconsin was able to 
demonstrate what worked, which greatly influenced the welfare 
reform legislation. Welfare reform legislation itself is an 
example of effectively addressing a problem by granting 
flexibility coupled with accountability. The Personal 
Responsibility Act of 1996 reduced many of the bureaucratic 
strings tied to federal welfare dollars while putting in place 
significant accountability requirements and financial 
incentives to mobilize state and local bureaucracies to reduce 
caseloads and out-of-wedlock birth rates. Even though the 
States were granted flexibility in the use of their Federal 
dollars, it was important to have financial rewards and 
incentives to serve as ``carrots'' since the state and local 
bureaucracies had grown so unresponsive to the needs of the 
people and unable to reduce dependency on their own.

Creating ``Charter States''

    Straight A's is also similar to the concept of charter 
schools: grant freedom from regulations and process 
requirements in exchange for accountability for producing 
results. Under Straight A's, Washington assumes the role of 
shareholder, not CEO, of the nation's education enterprise. 
Rather than micromanaging the day-to-day uses of federal money, 
it lets States manage their schools and dollars as they see fit 
in return for an agreed-on return on the federal investment.
    Built into H.R.2300 is this strategic shift and important 
conceptual breakthrough. The main lever of federal education 
policy has been carefully prescribing where Washington's money 
goes and what it can be spent on. But very little attention has 
been paid to the academic results that money helps make 
possible. Although there is much said about ``accountability'' 
these days in federal programs, when push comes to shove, the 
only federal terms and conditions with real teeth--the only 
kind that compel State and local officials to take notice and 
respond--are those governing the allocation and use of the 
money, not whether the children learn more.\12\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \12\ Testimony of Chester Finn, Jr., President, Thomas B. Fordham 
Foundation, Committee on Education and the Workforce, May 20, 1999.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Flexibility and freedom to use Federal funds

    The purpose of H.R. 2300 is to untie the hands of those 
States that have their accountability systems in place, in 
exchange for required results. It goes beyond Ed-Flex to more 
effectively address the flexibility needs of the States. States 
have the option of participating in Straight A's or staying 
with the current arrangement of separate categorical funding 
streams. It does not eliminate any programs. The Elementary and 
Secondary Education Act will be reauthorized. States may 
include any K-12 State-administered, formula grant program in 
their performance agreement.
    Participating States are granted two important freedoms:
    1. Flexibility to combine funds: States are granted freedom 
to combine funds to address State priorities. States or local 
school districts may consolidate the funds for each Federal 
program included in the performance agreement. States would 
have the flexibility to combine some or all of their federal 
programs. These funds could be used to augment existing federal 
programs, such as Title I, or could work in conjunction with 
Statewide reform efforts. States may use these funds to 
implement their own education reform plans, as determined by 
the Governor and State legislature, in accordance with State 
law. The funds may be used for any educational activity 
permitted by State law. If Part A of Title I is included, 
school districts are held harmless and will continue to 
receive, at a minimum, the same amount of dollars as they did 
under Title I in FY 2000.
    2. Freedom from non-performance related requirements and 
regulations: Straight A's de-regulates programs administered by 
States and local school districts. It frees States fromprocess 
requirements that hinder efforts to spend funds effectively. It 
eliminates most of the requirements and regulations that apply to 
individual categorical programs.

Straight A's is completely optional

    H.R. 2300 provides an option for States that wish to be 
able to consolidate separate federal funding streams and more 
effectively use them in their State. However, no State is 
forced to participate. If a State believes their children are 
best served under the current arrangement of categorical 
programs, then they are free to stay with those programs. If a 
State has a philosophical disagreement they are free not to 
participate, and unlike other Federal education programs, it 
will continue to receive Federal education dollars. Straight 
A's does not change any laws governing existing programs. It is 
a way of offering additional flexibility to those States who 
have said ``just hold us accountable for the results and free 
us from all these bureaucratic requirements.''

Accountability: The performance agreement

    A State must submit a performance agreement to the 
Secretary to participate in H.R. 2300. Before submitting the 
agreement to the Secretary, a State must first provide parents, 
teachers, and local schools and districts notice and 
opportunity to comment on the proposed agreement.
    The Secretary has 60 days after receiving the agreement to 
determine whether or not it satisfies the requirements of the 
statute. If he does not respond with a written determination 
within 60 days, the performance agreement would automatically 
be approved.
            Terms of the performance agreement
    Performance agreements are five years in length. A State is 
required to include information in the performance agreement 
submitted to the Secretary that details
    1. Which programs it wishes to include in the performance 
agreement, and
    2. A detailed five-year plan (outlined below) describing 
how the State will use the funds included in the agreement to 
advance the education priorities of the State, improve student 
achievement, and narrow achievement gaps.
    Accountability Requirements for States Including Title I in 
Their Agreement.--The goal of H.R. 2300 is to as much as 
possible align the accountability requirements with what many 
States have in place under Title I, rather than develop an 
entirely new set of accountability criteria. In order for 
States to be able to include Title I in their agreement, H.R. 
2300 requires them to be in compliance with current law 
controlling the development and implementation of standards and 
assessments under Title I. A State must certify in their 
performance agreement that they have developed standards and 
assessments in accordance with Section 1111(b) of Title I. 
States including Title I in their agreement would be required 
to include much of the same information required by State plan 
requirements in Sec. 1111 of Title I. States also have the 
option of not using the tests developed in accordance with 
Section 1111(b).
    Under current law, States are required to be able to 
disaggregate their assessment data. H.R. 2300 requires that 
participating States continue to be able to report academic 
assessment data so that it takes into account the progress of 
all students in the State as a whole, at the school district 
level, and at the school building level. In addition, for each 
school district and school, a State must be able to report the 
performance and progress of students by each major racial and 
ethnic group, gender, English proficiency status, migrant 
status, disability status, and by economically disadvantaged 
status. Such reporting is not required, however, in cases in 
which the number of students in any group is insufficient 
enough to produce statistically reliable information or would 
disclose the identity of individual students.
    The justification for this requirement is to ensure that 
States are specifically holding local school districts and 
schools accountable for improving the achievement of 
disadvantaged students. Only looking at averages does not allow 
for sufficient accountability to ensure that programs designed 
to address the needs of disadvantaged children are effective. 
Reporting achievement data by subgroup also allows for school 
districts and schools to more accurately measure their 
effectiveness, and ensure that no one group of children is left 
behind. The experience of Texas, described earlier in this 
report, demonstrates how effectively States and schools can 
narrow student achievement gaps by ensuring that all groups of 
students are meeting proficiency standards. However, it is 
important to note that it is the Committee's view that race and 
economic status are merely helpful categories to look at in 
order to determine the effectiveness of instruction and 
educational policies. They are useful for looking at the 
performance of groups of students only, and have no bearing on 
individual student performance, the value of a particular 
student's achievement, or the likelihood that any individual 
student will succeed.
    States must also demonstrate that they have developed an 
accountability system that holds school districts and schools 
accountable for improving student performance. Such a system, 
like the accountability system in Florida which assigns schools 
letter grades based on their performance, should have a 
demonstrated track record of improving student achievement, or 
should be reasonably expected to be effective based on its 
implementation in other places.
    Such an accountability system should also include a process 
for identifying low performing school districts and schools, as 
required under Title I. A State must provide assistance and 
resources to ``build'' a school's capacity, which means improve 
their overall ability to effectively educate their students and 
help them meet high standards. After three years of failing to 
improve, the State's accountability system must implement 
corrective actions, as defined by the State, to turn around low 
performing schools or districts.
    Performance Goals.--In exchange for being allowed to 
combine federal funding streams and for being relieved of the 
individual requirements of such programs, States must set 
specific performance goals tomeet by the end of the 5-year 
agreement. These goals must be set in terms of annual goals, which 
would be reported to the Secretary on an annual basis.
     The performance goals must reflect high standards 
for all students to ensure that all children attending public 
schools and charter schools are expected to meet high standards 
and make substantial gains in academic achievement. No child 
should be ``written-off'' merely because they are poor or have 
a difficult family background. All children should be expected 
to excel.
     They must take into account the progress of all 
public school districts and schools, including charter schools 
and districts.
     In order to measure student performance gains as 
objectively as possible, States should measure performance in 
terms of percentage of students meeting performance standards 
such as basic, proficient and advanced. These categories are 
defined by the State, and are the same as required under 
current law.
     In order to narrow achievement gaps and improve 
overall achievement, specific numerical goals should be set for 
each group of students for which a State reports its 
achievement test scores. This does not mean that a State must 
set different standards for each group, and in fact they should 
not. Instead, a State should take into consideration the 
performance of each group of students at the beginning of the 
term of the agreement and set specific numerical goals for each 
to ensure that they are making substantial progress towards 
meeting State proficiency standards. All students should be 
expected to meet State standards for proficiency, but each 
group will have different amounts of progress to in order to 
meet proficiency standards.
     Performance goals must be set for all State 
assessments and for all grades in which they are administered. 
In order to include Title I in the performance agreement, 
States must, at least administer statewide assessments in 
reading and math.
     Performance gains must be substantial. The purpose 
of H.R. 2300 is to free up States to be held accountable for 
improving the academic achievement of all of their students, 
and at a faster rate than they would under current law.
     States must set goals to reduce achievement gaps 
between the lowest and highest performing groups of students, 
without lowering the performance of the highest achieving 
students.
    Other Indicators of Performance.--States have the freedom 
to set other goals to demonstrate performance, such as 
graduation and attendance rates, in addition to assessment 
data. A State would have the incentive to set performance goals 
beyond what is required to provide additional evidence of the 
State's improvement in achievement. The Secretary would take 
those goals into consideration when a State renews its 
performance agreement and must demonstrate that it has made 
substantial progress toward meeting its goals.
    Performance Goals for a State or Locality that Does Not 
Include Title I in its Performance Agreement.--If a State does 
not include any part of Title I in its agreement, it is not 
required to meet the detailed performance goal provisions. This 
is because non-Title I programs are much smaller in size, and 
in their current form have a more general educational focus and 
their funds are not targeted for purposes of improving the 
achievement of disadvantaged students in the way that Title I 
funds are targeted. Therefore, the only parameters for the 
performance goals are that they are set in terms of 
improvements in academic achievement on Statewide assessments. 
Even though a State would have the freedom to use these funds 
for technology, or to implement a program to reduce drug use, 
the effectiveness of these funds should be measured in terms of 
academic achievement. States would be required to report on the 
use and effectiveness of these funds in their annual report.
    Annual Report.--A State must annually report to parents and 
the general public the progress it has made towards meeting its 
performance goals, and how it spent Federal funds to improve 
academic achievement and narrow achievement gaps. In addition, 
it must submit this information to the Secretary. The Secretary 
must make these reports available to Congress.
    Fiscal Requirements: Maintenance of Effort, Audits.--A 
State must provide assurances that it will not reduce its level 
of education spending during the term of the agreement. In 
addition, it must demonstrate that it will use standard 
procedures for accounting for the use of Federal funds under 
this Act.
            Straight A's accountability for Title I dollars compared 
                    with current law
    Unlike current law under Title I, Straight A's is a 
performance agreement, not a compliance agreement. Straight A's 
requires States to set performance goals, and their flexibility 
is contingent on improving student performance. Under current 
law, States are in compliance if they follow the process rules 
and requirements and submit paperwork on time. States continue 
to receive their federal dollars year after year even if they 
fail to improve student achievement. Annual reports sent to the 
Secretary under current law contain lot of statistics about how 
many children are in schools receiving Title I dollars, but 
nothing about overall achievement gains as a result of federal 
dollars. States opting for Straight A's would be more fully 
accountable to their taxpayers, parents and students, and would 
have a more difficult time blaming failure on federal rules and 
regulations.
    If a State includes Title I in their agreement, Straight 
A's requires States to set goals and measure their progress in 
terms of whether the highest and lowest performing groups of 
students improve. Under current law, the unmet needs of 
disadvantaged children are often hidden by statewide averages. 
In addition, under H.R. 2300 States would be free to target all 
of their federal dollars to improve the achievement of the 
neediest children. States could increase spending on 
disadvantaged students by 70 percent on average.
    Under Straight A's, States have the incentive to perform or 
risk having their performance agreement terminated and losing 
administrative funds. Straight A's also contains the only 
reward program that rewards States with federal dollars for 
improving student achievement and narrowing achievement gaps, 
much like the financial incentives offered to states under 
welfare reform.
            Local school district performance agreements
    A school district in a State that chooses not to 
participate in Straight A's is eligible to submit a performance 
agreement to the Secretary under H.R. 2300. The Committee's 
view is that it is important to provide this option so that 
school districts are not prevented from having access to a 
higher level of flexibility in exchange for additional 
accountability. Many large urban centers have as many students 
as a small State, and have the ability to operate an effective 
accountability system and produce the expected performance 
gains required under Straight A's.
    The Committee heard testimony from representatives from 
large cities such as Chicago and Jersey City who requested the 
flexibility to exercise this option. For example, Brett 
Shundler, the Mayor of Jersey City, testified before the 
Committee on May 20, 1999, stating that:

         The sixty programs comprising the Elementary and 
        Secondary Education Act are well intentioned. However, 
        many of them have little to do with the reality of 
        urban classrooms. I would . . . strongly recommend that 
        you give the option of the Straight A's Act flexibility 
        to large school districts in any States which do not 
        choose to participate. The problems and needs of a 
        large urban district can be quite different and are 
        even at odds with those of the surrounding State.

    School districts may only submit its own performance 
agreement if its State does not object. The Committee's view is 
that in this instance the entity granted the authority to 
administer education programs in the State would make this 
determination. It is important that a State not object because 
the allocation of funds from many of the programs that are 
eligible to be included under Straight A's, in many instances, 
is determined by the State. In addition, Straight A's is not 
intended as a means by which school districts can opt out of 
Statewide academic priorities and accountability systems.
            Limits on administrative expenses
    Participating local educational agencies would be prevented 
from spending more than four percent of funds allocated to them 
under programs included in their performance agreement on 
administration.

Allocation and use of Federal funds

    Under Straight A's, funds from any eligible program may be 
combined and used for any elementary and secondary educational 
purpose permitted under State law.
            H.R. 2300 does not affect the amount of money the State 
                    receives from the Federal government for education.
    The total amount of funds a State receives under Straight 
A's is the same as what the State would have otherwise received 
under the categorical programs. The allocation formulas remain 
the same. Eligible programs comprise the K-12 formula-grant, 
State-administered Federal education programs: Title I, 
Eisenhower, Technology Literacy Challenge Fund, Safe and Drug 
Free Schools, Emergency Immigrant Education Act, McKinney 
Education Homeless Assistance Act, Title VI block grant, Class 
Size Reduction, Goals 2000, and Perkins Vocational and 
Technical Education Act. It does not include the Individuals 
with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
            Under H.R. 2300 school districts will not lose Title I part 
                    A funds
    If Title I, Part A is included by a State, each school 
district in the State would receive at least as much money as 
they received in the preceding fiscal year under part A of 
Title I.
            Allocations to districts and use of non-Title I funds under 
                    the performance agreement
    In general, the allocation and use of funds is determined 
by the Governor and the State legislature. However, if such an 
arrangement violates State constitution or State law because it 
has designated another entity to be responsible for education, 
the entity with the responsibility for education shall make 
this determination, in consultation with the Governor and the 
state legislature, insofar as this does not override state law 
or its constitution. States are also required to provide 
parents, teachers and local schools with an opportunity to 
comment on the proposed allocation of funds.
            Limitations on administrative expenditures
    If a State includes Part A of Title I, it may spend up to 
one percent on administration. This is so that States may not 
spend any more for administration under Straight A's than they 
are allowed under current law. If it does not include Title I 
Part A, it may spend up to three percent. The percentage 
allowed for administrative purposes is larger in this case 
because of the smaller amount of funds involved. Also, non-
Title programs for the most part allow about five percent to be 
used for administrative purposes at the state level. Local 
educational agencies that submit performance agreements may 
spend up to four percent on administration, which corresponds 
with the amount LEAs may spend for administrative purposes 
under the Committee reported version of HR 2, the Student 
Results Act of 1999, which reauthorizes Title I. The amount is 
the same whether or not an LEA includes Title I. This is 
because apart from the Committee-passed reauthorization, under 
current law there is no limits on administrative costs at the 
local level and no precedent to take into consideration.

Improving achievement through rewards and penalties

    ESEA has failed in largely because dollars continue to flow 
to States the same way whether or not a state improves student 
achievement. Straight A's provides incentives to improve 
achievement by financially rewarding States that improve 
achievement. No such reward program exists in current for 
federal education funds.
            Incentives and Rewards
    If, after five years a State accomplishes one of the 
following, a State may receive a reward equal to at least five 
percent of its total program funds for the first year of the 
agreement:
     Narrows the achievement gap between its highest 
and lowest performing students by 25 percent or more, in at 
least two grades and content areas, including reading or math; 
or
     Increases the proportion of two or more groups of 
students that meet State proficiency standards by 25 percent, 
in at least two grades and content areas, including reading or 
math;
    Funds for the rewards will come from the Fund for the 
Improvement of Education. The Secretary should set aside 
sufficient funds in advance in order to fully fund rewards 
under this provision, and the Appropriations Committees should 
take into consideration this reward program when appropriating 
funds for the Fund for the Improvement of Education in Title X 
of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. A new program is 
not created, nor is new money necessary to fund this provision.
            Performance Review and Penalties
    Mid-term performance review.--If student academic 
performance in a State declines for three consecutive years, in 
the performance categories established in the performance 
agreement, the Secretary may terminate the charter after notice 
and an opportunity for a hearing.
    Loss of eligibility.--If a State does not meet or 
substantially meet its performance goals at the end of the 
five-year agreement, it must revert to categorical funding 
streams in effect and the accompanying regulations and 
requirements. A State should be allowed to continue if it has 
made solid and substantial progress towards meeting those 
goals--90 percent or higher. States should be encouraged to set 
ambitious goals for the term.
    Loss of administrative funds.--If a State makes no progress 
towards meeting its performance goals, the Secretary may reduce 
its administrative set-asides by as much as 50 percent for two 
years following the State's reversion to categorical funding 
streams. This provision is similar to provisions under current 
law which permit the Secretary to withhold administrative 
funds. However, the percentage allowed under Straight A's is 
significantly higher and is not optional.

Preserving important protections under current law

            Federal civil rights protections remain in effect
    States must include in their agreement an assurance that 
Federal civil rights laws will be enforced, even though civil 
rights requirements cannot be waived. Civil rights laws are 
separate, independent freestanding statutes and not part of the 
Federal elementary and secondary education programs to which 
Straight A's applies. However, the Committee wished to address 
this specifically to alleviate any concern that Straight A's 
could in some way be used to subvert federal civil rights 
requirements.
            Private school participation
    States must include in their agreement an assurance that it 
will ensure the equitable participation of students and 
professional staff in private schools. The bypass and complaint 
provisions in sections 14504-14506 also apply to a State's use 
of funds under Straight A's. These sections provide a statutory 
remedy for situations in which a State fails to live up to its 
assurance to provide for the equitable participation of 
students and professional staff.
            Home Schools and non-recipient, non-public schools
    As provided under current law, home schools are not 
affected by this Act, regardless of how home schools are 
defined under State law. No Federal control over any aspect of 
private, religious or home schools is authorized by this act.
            General Education Provisions Act Protections
    The provisions of the General Education Provisions Act 
(GEPA) that are inconsistent with the intent and requirements 
of H.R. 2300 are superceded by H.R. 2300. However, provisions 
in GEPA affecting civil rights, enforcement authority and 
withholding of funds for fiscal accountability purposes, and 
family educational and privacy protections are not in any way 
superceded by Straight A's.
            Conclusion
    The kind of accountability in Straight A's has worked well 
in cities and States around the nation. Unlike many recent 
attempts to put more accountability requirements into federal 
programs, such as Title I, accountability in H.R. 2300 has been 
coupled with fiscal and legal autonomy and flexibility, which 
allows reforms to be implemented quickly and efficiently at the 
State and local level.
    Straight A's has the potential of serving as the catalyst 
for significantly improving the Federal investment in 
education. It is the Committee's view that the time is now to 
take bold reforms and encourage reform-minded States to 
continue their successes. Federal funds should be focused on 
helping children and their schools, not on preserving separate 
funding streams and maintaining separate categorical Federal 
programs. If H.R. 2300 is signed into law, all students, 
especially the disadvantaged students who were the focus of 
Federal legislation in 1965, may finally receive effective 
instruction and be held to high standards.

                                Summary

    H.R. 2300 gives States and local educational agencies the 
option of agreeing to meet substantial academic achievement 
goals agreed to in a five-year performance agreementsubmitted 
to the Secretary of Education. If the agreement is approved by the 
Secretary, States would be able to consolidate federal program funds 
included in the agreement, it would be freed from the individual 
requirements of those programs. H.R. 2300 specifically describes the 
assurances and academic achievement goals States or school districts 
must include in their performance agreement; how states must allocate 
funds under the agreement; the penalties States and local educational 
agencies are subject to for failing to meet the terms of the 
performance agreement; the financial rewards for significantly 
narrowing achievement gaps and improving overall student achievement; 
and the civil rights and other protections that remain in effect.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis

    Section 1--Provides the short title of the Act as the 
``Academic Achievement for All Act (Straight A's Act).
    Section 2--States the purpose of the Act.
    Section 3--Describes the performance agreement a State has 
the option of entering into with the Secretary of Education.
    (a) Authorizes the State to enter into an optional 
performance agreement.
    (b) States that parents, teachers, schools and school 
districts must be given time by the State to give comment on 
the agreement.
    (c) States that the Secretary must make a written 
determination within 60 days on the agreement or it is 
automatically approved.
    (d) Describes provisions required in each performance 
agreement.
    Section 4--Lists eligible programs.
    (a) Lists the programs that are eligible under this Act: 
part A of title I; part B of title I; part C of title I; part D 
of title I; part B of title II; section 3132 of title III; 
title IV, title VI, and part C of title VII, of the Elementary 
and Secondary Education Act of 1965, section 307 of the 
Department of Education Appropriation Act of 1999, 
Comprehensive School Reform Programs as authorized under 
section 1502 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 
1965, title III of the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, 
sections 115 and 116, and parts B and C of title I of the Carl 
D. Perkins Vocational Technical Education Act, and subtitle B 
of title VII of the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance 
Act.
    (b) Provides that States may consolidate funds from 
programs under (a) and that the program requirements are no 
longer in effect, except that the proportion of funds for 
national programs and allocations to States will remain the 
same (States will not lose their proportion of funds if they 
chose to participate).
    (c) Provides that allocations can be used for any 
elementary and secondary educational purposes permitted by 
State law.
    Section 5--Describes requirements for State fund 
distribution to local educational agencies.
    (a) Provides that the State legislature and the Governor 
determine how funds are distributed according to State 
constitution or State law.
    (b) Provides that States, under State law, must provide 
parents, teachers, schools and school districts time to comment 
on agreement.
    (c) Provides that States that include part A of title I 
agree to provide local educational agencies with funds equal to 
or greater than the amount they would have received under part 
(A) of title I in the previous fiscal year. States must reduce 
the amount each local educational agency receives in a uniform 
fashion if funds that they receive from the Secretary are not 
sufficient.
    Section 6--Describes the local participation option.
    (a) Provides that local agencies who are eligible to submit 
a performance agreement to the Secretary only if the State 
agency does not choose to participate in the Act.
    (b) Sets forth requirements of local educational agencies 
that submit performance plans.
    (c) Describes exceptions that do not apply to local 
agencies.
    Section 7--Sets forth State and local limits on 
administrative costs.
    Section 8--Describes penalties.
    Section 9--Sets forth requirements for renewal of the 
agreement.
    Section 10--Sets forth achievement gap reduction reward.
    Section 11--Requires the Secretary to make annual State 
reports available to the House Committee on Education and the 
Workforce and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor 
and Pensions.
    Section 12--States that Straight A's supersedes provisions 
of title XIV of ESEA.
    Section 13--States that this Act supersedes provisions of 
the General Education Provisions Act, except in the areas of 
civil rights, withholding funds and enforcement authority, and 
family educational and privacy rights.
    Section 14--States that the Act does not affect home 
schools in relation to being treated as a private school or 
home school under State law.
    Section 15--States that the Act does not give the Federal 
government control over any private, religious, or home school 
under State law.
    Section 16--Definitions section.

                       Explanation of Amendments

    The Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute is explained in 
the body of this report.

              Application of Law to the Legislative Branch

    Section 102(b)(3) of Public Law 104-1 requires a 
description of the application of this bill to the legislative 
branch. This bill, H.R. 2300, the ``Academic Achievement for 
All Act,'' focuses federal resources for education on 
increasing student performance and narrowing achievement gaps. 
It gives States, school districts and schools the option of 
receiving additional flexibility in the use of fourteen state-
administered, federal elementary and secondary education 
program funds in exchange for increased accountability for 
academic achievement. The bill does not prevent legislative 
branch employees from receiving the benefits of this 
legislation.

                       Unfunded Mandate Statement

    Section 423 of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment 
Control Act (as amended by Section 101(a)(2) of the Unfunded 
Mandates Reform Act, P.L. 104-4) requires a statement of 
whether the provisions of the reported bill include unfunded 
mandates. H.R. 2300 gives States, school districts and schools 
the option of receiving additional flexibility in the use of 
fourteen state-administered, federal elementary and secondary 
education program funds in exchange for increased 
accountability for academic achievement. As such, the bill does 
not contain any unfunded mandates.

                             Rollcall Votes

    Clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives requires the Committee Report to include for 
each record vote on a motion to report the measure or matter 
and on any amendments offered to the measure or matter the 
total number of votes for and against and the names of the 
Members voting for and against.


                             Correspondence

                                  Washington, DC, October 15, 1999.
Hon. William F. Goodling,
Chairman, Education and the Workforce Committee,
2181 Rayburn House Office Building.
    Dear Mr. Chairman, due to unforseen circumstances, I was 
unavoidably detained during the Committees consideration of 
H.R. 2300, the Academic Achievement for All Act and as such 
missed Rollcall Vote number 2 on favorably reporting the bill. 
Had I been present, I would have voted ``aye.''
    I would appreciate your including this letter in the 
Committee Report to accompany H.R. 2300. Thank you for your 
attention to this matter.
            Sincerely,
                                   Matt Salmon, Member of Congress.

  Statement of Oversight Findings and Recommendations of the Committee

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII and clause 
(2)(b)(1) of rule X of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives, the Committee's oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the body of this report.

   New Budget Authority and Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    With respect to the requirements of clause 3(c)(2) of rule 
XIII of the House of Representatives and section 308(a) of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974 and with respect to 
requirements of 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the House of 
Representatives and section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act 
of 1974, the Committee has received the following cost estimate 
for H.R. 2300 from the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                  Washington, DC, October 15, 1999.
Hon. William F. Goodling,
Chairman, Committee on Education and the Workforce,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed estimate for H.R. 2300, the Academic 
Achievement for All Act (Straight A's Act).
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Audra Millen.
            Sincerely,
                                          Barry B. Anderson
                                    (For Dan L. Crippen, Director).
    Enclosure.

H.R. 2300--Academic Achievement for All Act (Straight A's Act)

    Summary: H.R. 2300, the Academic Achievement for All Act 
(also referred to as the Straight A's Act), would allow the 
Department of Education to delegate to states a portion of its 
waiver-granting authority. The bill would give any State or 
Local Educational Agency (SEA or LEA) the option to combine 
funds under certain federal elementary and secondary education 
programs for the purpose of improving student achievement. The 
Secretary of Education would waive the primary requirements 
governing funds under those programs and participating SEAs and 
LEAs would be held accountable for demonstrating improvements 
in student performance outcomes.
    CBO expects that enacting H.R. 2300 would affect the rate 
of spending from funds that were appropriated for fiscal year 
1999. Such effects would constitute changes in direct spending; 
therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures would apply to the bill. We 
estimate that direct spending would increase by $18 million in 
2000 and $5 million in 2001, and decrease by $16 million in 
2002 and $7 million in 2003. Implementing the bill also would 
affect discretionary spending by providing the same flexibility 
to states for use of funds yet to be appropriated for fiscal 
year 2000. Subject to appropriation of the amounts already 
authorized for 2000, CBO estimates that discretionary outlays 
would be $125 million higher in 2001, and $125 million lower 
over the 2002-2004 period, relative to our estimates of such 
spending under current law.
    H.R. 2300 contains no private-sector or intergovernmental 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA). 
Any costs to state and local governments resulting from 
enactment of this bill would be incurred voluntarily. Tribal 
governments would not be affected by the provisions of this 
bill.
    Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The estimated 
budgetary impact of H.R. 2300 is shown in the following table: 
The costs of this legislation fall within budget function 500 
(education, training, and employment and social services).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                    By fiscal years in millions of dollars--
                                                               -------------------------------------------------
                                                                  2000      2001      2002      2003      2004
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           CHANGES IN DIRECT SPENDING

Budget Authority..............................................         0         0         0         0         0
Estimated Outlays.............................................        18         5       -16        -7         0

                                        SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION

Spending Under Current Law:
    Estimted Authorization Level \1\..........................    12,006         0         0         0         0
    Estimated Outlays.........................................    11,070    11,168     3,800       762        56
Proposed Changes:
    Authorization Level.......................................         0         0         0         0         0
    Estimated Outlays.........................................         0       125       -31       -63       -31
Spending Under H.R. 2300:
    Estimated Authorization Level.............................    12,006         0         0         0         0
    Estimated Outlays.........................................    11,070    11,293     3,769       699        24
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ A full-year appropriation has not yet been provided for 2000.

Note.--Components may not add to totals because of rounding.

Basis of estimate

            Direct spending
    Historically, federal education programs have been designed 
to direct federal dollars for a specific educational purpose. 
Program requirements restrict the uses and activities of the 
funds provided. However, the Education Flexibility Partnership 
Act of 1999 (Public Law 106-25), which was enacted on April 29, 
1999, allowed qualifying states to waive the requirements of 
certain education programs and provided some school districts 
with the opportunity to use Class Size Reduction funds for 
professional development programs.CBO assumed that about 9 
percent of schools would use the new authority under Public Law 106-25 
to reallocate their 1999 Class Size Reduction funds for other purposes.
    The Straight A's Act, on the other hand, would provide 
greater authority for SEAs and LEAs to waive most of the 
current program restrictions in exchange for increased 
accountability. States would be able to consolidate funds from 
their choice of certain existing programs, including the newly 
funded Class Size Reduction program. The 1999 appropriations 
for the programs covered under H.R. 2300 total $11.9 billion, 
including $1.2 billion for classroom size reduction. States 
would be required to submit a plan detailing how they will use 
the consolidated funds to improve student achievement and what 
assessment measures they will use. Once approved, the states 
could use all of the included funds without regard for the 
purpose or restrictions of the original programs. To remain 
eligible, states would have to demonstrate improvement in 
academic achievement.
    How states would use the flexibility offered under H.R. 
2300 is uncertain. Some members of the education community have 
argued that the accountability requirements of the bill would 
discourage participation, whereas others believe that most 
states would prefer the flexibility the bill offers. CBO 
assumes that any budgetary effects of the bill would occur 
because states chose to reallocate funds provided for classroom 
size reduction, a program that is projected to spend more 
slowly than other elementary and secondary education programs.
    CBO estimates that H.R. 2300, in combination with the 
estimated effect of Public Law 106-25, would affect 20 percent 
of the 1999 funds for classroom size reduction. We expect that 
those funds would be spent at an accelerated rate. This change 
would increase outlays in 2000 and 2001 by $18 million and $5 
million, respectively, and lower outlays by $16 million in 2002 
and $7 million in 2003.
            Spending subject to appropriation
    The Straight A's Act also affects funding for fiscal year 
2000, the last year of authorization for most of the elementary 
and secondary programs. For 2000, full-year appropriations have 
not been provided yet. However, there are expected to be 
similar changes in the rates of spending, and discussed above. 
By 2001, CBO assumes that one-half of the states which do not 
take advantage of H.R. 2300 in 2000 will do so in 2001 and 
beyond. Consequently, by 2001, 60 percent of all the states 
would be using the flexibility provide under the bill. In 
fiscal year 2001, outlays from estimated 2000 authorization 
levels are expected to be $125 million higher if H.R. 2300 is 
enacted. We estimate that outlays in 2002, 2003, and2004 would 
be lower by $31 million, $63 million, and $31 million, respectively, 
resulting in no net effect over the 2001-2004 period.
    Pay-as-you-go considerations: The Balanced Budget and 
Emergency Deficit Control Act sets up pay-as-you-go procedures 
for legislation affecting direct spending or receipts. The net 
changes in outlays that are subject to pay-as-you-go procedures 
are shown in the following table. For the purposes of enforcing 
pay-as-you-go procedures, only the effects in the budget year 
and the succeeding four years are counted.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                        By fiscal years, in millions of dollars--
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                         2000   2001    2002     2003    2004   2005   2006   2007   2008   2009
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Changes in outlays....................     18      5      -16       -7      0      0      0      0      0      0
Changes in receipts...................                               Not applicable
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Estimated impact on state, local, and tribal governments: 
H.R. 2300 contains no intergovernmental mandates as defined in 
UMRA. Any costs incurred by state or local governments as a 
result of participation in the program created by this bill 
would be voluntary. Tribal governments would not be affected by 
the provisions of this bill.
    Under H.R. 2300, states (and local educational agencies in 
non-participating states) would voluntarily enter into 
performance agreements with the Department of Education to make 
measurable improvements in the academic achievement of all 
students. In return, sates or local educational agencies would 
be authorized to combine funding from fourteen federal 
education programs to be used for any educational purpose 
permitted by sate law in the participating state. While states 
and local educational agencies may incur costs to develop 
performance measures and systems to monitor and report 
progress, such costs would be incurred voluntarily.
    Estimated impact on the private sector: The bill contains 
no private-sector mandates as defined in UMRA.

 Statement of Oversight Findings of the Committee on Government Reform

    With respect to the requirement of clause 3(c)(4) of rule 
XIII of the rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee has received no report of oversight findings and 
recommendations from the Committee on Government Reform on the 
subject of H.R. 2300.

                   Constitutional Authority Statement

    Pursuant to clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the Committee finds that the 
Constitutional authority for this legislation is provided in 
Article I, section 8, clause 1, which grants Congress the power 
to lay and collect taxes, duties, imports and excises, to pay 
the debts and provide for the common defense and general 
welfare of the United States.

                           Committee Estimate

    Clauses 3(d)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives requires an estimate and a comparison by the 
Committee of the costs that would be incurred in carrying out 
H.R. 2300. However, clause 3(d)(3)(B) of that rule provides 
that this requirement does not apply when the committee has 
included in its report at timely submitted cost estimate of the 
bill prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office under section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act.

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

    In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported are shown as follows (new matter is 
printed in italic and existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman). There are no amendments to 
existing law.

                           SUPPLEMENTAL VIEWS

    Those who wish to diminish federal control over education 
should cast an unenthusiastic yes vote for the Academic 
Achievement for All Students Freedom and Accountability Act 
(STRAIGHT ``As''). While this bill does increase the ability of 
state and local governments to educate children free from 
federal mandates and regulations, and is thus a marginal 
improvement over existing federal law, STRAIGHT ``As'' fails to 
challenge the federal government's unconstitutional control of 
education. In fact, under STRAIGHT ``As'' states and local 
school districts will still be treated as administrative 
subdivisions of the federal education bureaucracy. Furthermore, 
this bill does not remove the myriad requirements imposed on 
states and local school districts by federal bureaucrats in the 
name of promoting ``civil rights.'' Thus, a school district 
participating in STRAIGHT ``As'' will still have to place 
children in failed bilingual education programs or face the 
wrath of the Department of Education's misnamed Office of Civil 
Rights.
    The fact that this bill increases, however marginally, the 
ability of states and localities to control education, is a 
step forward. As long as the federal government continues to 
levy oppressive taxes on the American people, and then funnel 
that money back to the states to use for education programs, 
defenders of the Constitution should support all efforts to 
reduce the hoops through which states must jump in order to 
reclaim some of the people's tax monies.
    However, there are a number of both practical and 
philosophical concerns regarding this bill. The primary 
objection to STRAIGHT ``As,'' from a constitutional viewpoint, 
is embedded in the very mantra of ``accountability'' stressed 
by the drafters of the bill. Talk of accountability begs the 
question: accountable to whom? Under this bill, schools remain 
accountable to federal bureaucrats and those who develop the 
state tests upon which a participating school's performance is 
judged. Should the schools not live up to their 
bureaucratically-determined ``performance goals,'' they will 
lose the flexibility granted to them under this act. So federal 
and state bureaucrats will determine if the schools are to be 
allowed to participate in the STRAIGHT ``As'' programs and 
bureaucrats will judge whether the states are living up to the 
standards set in the state's five-year education plan--yet this 
is supposed to debureaucratize and decentralize education!
    Under the United States Constitution, the federal 
government has no authority to hold states ``accountable'' for 
their education performance. In the free society envisioned by 
the founders, schools are held accountable to parents, not 
federal bureaucrats. However, the current system of leveling 
oppressive taxes on America's families and using those taxes to 
fund federal education program denies parental control of 
education by denying them control over the education dollar. 
Because ``he who pays the piper calls the tune,'' when the 
federal government controls the education dollar schools will 
obey the dictates of federal ``educrats'' while ignoring the 
wishes of the parents.
    In order to provide parents with the means to hold schools 
accountable, I have introduced the Family Education Freedom Act 
(HR 935). The Family Education Freedom Act restores parental 
control over the classroom by providing American parents a tax 
credit of up to $3,000 for the expenses incurred in sending 
their child to private, public, parochial, other religious 
school, or for home schooling their children.
    The Family Education Freedom Act returns the fundamental 
principal of a truly free economy to America's education 
system: what the great economist Ludwig von Mises called 
``consumer sovereignty.'' Consumer sovereignty simply means 
consumers decide who succeeds or fails in the market. 
Businesses that best satisfy consumer demand will be the most 
successful. Consumer sovereignty is the means by which the free 
society maximizes human happiness.
    When parents control the education dollar, schools must be 
responsive to parental demands that their children receive 
first-class educations, otherwise, parents will find 
alternative means to educate their children. Furthermore, 
parents whose children are in public schools may use their 
credit to improve their schools by helping to finance the 
purchase of educational tools such as computers or 
extracurricular activities such as music programs. Parents of 
public school students may also wish to use the credit to pay 
for special services for their children.

                             MINORITY VIEWS

Introduction
    H.R. 2300, the Academic Achievement for all Act, is nothing 
less than a national abandonment of our commitment to help our 
country's most disadvantaged public schools. The bill 
essentially would give states a ``blank check'' for billions of 
dollars in the form of revenue sharing, without accountability 
or protection of our most vulnerable students.
    The H.R. 2300 block grant scheme would allow states to 
convert part or all of Federal aid into private school 
vouchers, thus decimating public schools. It would allow states 
to slash funding for poor schools and move that funding to the 
most affluent schools. It would allow states to take funds 
appropriated specifically for special need students, and use it 
for the general student population.
    H.R. 2300 also reneges on the bipartisan agreement reached 
this week on Title I of ESEA to strengthen accountability and 
performance of Title I schools.
The H.R. 2300 block grant is bad education policy
    Block grants have failed because they lack the focus 
required to ensure accountability for results in the use of 
taxpayer dollars to stimulate real reform. Many federal 
education programs were enacted because states and communities 
had difficulty meeting the special educational needs of poor, 
limited English proficient, migrant, neglected, delinquent, and 
or homeless children. H.R. 2300 surrenders this commitment.
    We know from experience that block grants lead to decreased 
political support for funding because they lack focus and 
accountability. For example, in 1981 Congress consolidated 26 
programs into a single block grant (now Title VI of ESEA). 
Since then, funding for Title VI has dwindled, falling 63 
percent in real terms since 1981. Today,the program has no 
accountability, no focus, and can demonstrate no success in 
improving educational achievement. Based on this sorry record, 
the Republican Majority seeks to emulate this failed idea that 
has done nothing to improve student achievement.
Loss of targeting and national priorities
    H.R. 2300 fails to target Federal funds to the districts, 
schools, and students with the greatest needs. In particular, 
it guts the very mission of Title I of ESEA, the nation's $8 
billion flagship program for the nation's poor children. H.R. 
2300 would essentially repeal Title I's need and poverty-based 
allocation procedures by allowing States to distribute funds in 
a way that the governors and State legislatures decide. In many 
states this would be a disaster for the nation's poor students.
    Many other programs focus dollars to poor areas. Class Size 
Reduction allocations are based largely on the number of poor 
children in each district. Similarly, criteria for State 
allocation of Safe and Drug-Free Schools funds to local 
education agencies include ``high-need factors'' such as high 
rates of drug use or student violence.
    Most Federal education programs were created specifically 
to serve disadvantaged groups, after Congress found that States 
and localities were not meeting the needs of those groups on 
their own. Nearly 30 years after the creation of many Federal 
education programs, GAO still finds that State funding formulas 
are significantly less targeted on high-need districts and 
children than are Federal formulas.\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\ In 1998, GAO found that high-poverty districts had less local 
funding than low-poverty district per weighted pupil in 37 of the 47 
states GAO analyzed. When GAO added state and federal funds to local 
funds for GAO's analysis, only 21 states still had such funding gaps, 
and these gaps were smaller in each state. Nevertheless, about 64 
percent of the nation's poor students live in these 21 states. See 
``School Finance State and Federal Efforts to Target Poor Students'' 
(GAO/HEHS-98-36, January 1998).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Congress has often helped communities address national 
priorities with resources, based on a sound track record by 
local educational agencies. For example, national leadership by 
Congress to reduce class size in the early grades, tackle youth 
and drug alcohol abuse, and provide professional development 
for teachers, and enhance technology in the schools have 
already reaped rewards. H.R. 2300 guts these key national 
priorities, despite overwhelming public support.

Straight A's is the Anti-Accountability Act

    The Republican Majority's emphasis on block granting, 
eliminating oversight and accountability, and eliminating 
targeting, flies in the face of the ``Academic Achievement for 
All'' that the Majority purport to want. The reality is that 
only a strong federal role in education will assure that all 
children have equal access and equal opportunity to quality 
education. The Straight A's Act would replace the fiscal and 
performance requirements with a toothless ``performance 
agreement.'' The States could take federal funds allocated for 
poor and special needs students and use it for ``any 
educational purpose permitted by State law.'' The Secretary 
would have to approve these 5 year agreements, even if they 
include weak and ineffective assessment and performance 
indicators. States that fail to meet these so called 
performance agreements would face only minimal sanctions (loss 
of some administrative funds.)

Breaks the bipartisan agreement to strengthen Title I

    It is ironic that the Republican Majority would pass the 
Straight A's ``block grant'' scheme on the day it voted, in a 
bipartisan manner, to enhance the accountability and 
performance of Title I programs. H.R. 2, as amended by the 
Committee maintains targeting requirements to serve poorest 
schools first, increases funding for Title I schools, requires 
parent report cards to help parents hold schools accountable, 
requires all teachers to become fully accountable, prohibits 
use of Title I funds for private vouchers, continues the 1994 
reforms requiring all states to have rigorous standards and 
assessments, and makes permanent the comprehensive, research 
based educational school reform program that helps communities 
overhaul struggling schools.
    H.R. 2 eviscerates these bipartisan reforms before the ink 
on the bipartisan agreement is dry and returns to the partisan 
attacks on federal aid to public education that have dominated 
much of the Republican-controlled Congress.\2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \2\ Since the Republicans took control of the House of 
Representatives in 1994, they have proposed: abolishing the Department 
of Education; diverting of dollars in public school funds for private 
school vouchers; cutting school lunches; ending equal opportunity in 
higher education; gutting bilingual education; tax cuts for the wealthy 
to send children to private schools; slashing billions of dollars from 
education programs; eliminating the summer youth jobs program; 
eliminating school-to-work opportunities for high school students; 
eliminating the in-school interest subsidy for student loans; and 
eliminating the safe and drug-free school program.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

H.R. 2300 torpedoes local school control

    While H.R. 2300 may be a bonanza for governors, it excludes 
local school district participation. The Council of Great City 
Schools, which represents the country's largest and diverse 
public schools, strongly opposes H.R. 2300;
    ``The bill repeals from current law virtually all critical 
local decision-making authority regarding the use and focus of 
the super flex funding, allowing the States to dictate local 
uses of funds based upon their political judgment at the moment 
* * * [It allows] * * * the State's chosen priority, to the 
exclusion of local school district priorities such as reading, 
math, science, or special needs children. A state could decide 
to use all these federal funds for private school vouchers, if 
allowed under State law.''

Conclusion

    There is a national consensus to promote high academic 
standards for all children, target resources to children with 
the greatest need, and enhance public accountability and 
oversight. The public overwhelmingly supports federal aid to 
help communities reduce class sizes, ensure high quality 
teachers, and help all children learn the basics. This bill 
shamefully abandons the federal partnership in public 
education, and leaves disadvantaged schools and school children 
to fend for themselves.

                         The National Coalition for
                                          Public Education,
                                   Washington, DC, October 5, 1999.
Committee on Education and the Workforce,
House of Representatives,
Washington, DC.
    Dear Representative: The National Coalition for Public 
Education is comprised of more than 50 education, civic, civil 
rights, and religious organizations devoted to the support of 
public schools. Our coalition is opposed to the diversion of 
public education funds to private and religious school vouchers 
or other similar funding mechanisms. It is with our mission in 
mind that the undersigned organizations are writing to oppose 
H.R. 2300, the ``Academic Achievement for All'' (Straight A's) 
Act.
    In the Straight A's bill, funds can be used for any 
educational purpose determined by the governor and state 
legislature that is permitted by state law. In some states, 
large amounts of money could be diverted from public schools, 
where 90% of our Nation's students are educated, to private or 
religious schools that serve a far smaller number of students.
    Our coalition opposes vouchers because:
     Vouchers do not ensure parental ``choice.''
    Private schools do not have to serve all students and can 
reject those with disabilities, who lack English proficiency or 
have other special needs. Choice really belongs to the private 
school administrators who select who will be admitted.
     Vouchers do not improve public schools through 
competition.
    Public and private schools are not on a level playing 
field, so genuine competition is impossible. Public schools 
must accept all students, whereas private schools can hand-
select who will be admitted.
     Voucher programs lack accountability.
    Private schools are not required to be accountable to the 
public. Private schools do not have to disclose test scores, 
drop out rates, or school safety and discipline information.
     Vouchers do not protect our children's civil 
rights.
    Private schools are not subject to and do not have to 
comply with all federal anti-discrimination laws designed to 
protect our children.
     Vouchers would force federal taxpayers to support 
religious beliefs and practices with which they may strongly 
disagree,
    Public funds used to pay for parochial school education is 
a violation of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment doctrine 
of church-state separation.
    In conclusion, we do not believe there is a need for the 
massive and arbitrary overhauls of federal education programs 
proposed in the Academic Achievement for All Act. Congressional 
committees review federal programs regularly and refine and 
improve them as needed. In fact, as a result of recent 
reauthorizations, school districts already have tremendous 
flexibility to make decisions about how they will use the money 
they receive from federal programs. In addition, the Ed-Flex 
bill, just enacted in April, provides for increased 
flexibility, but still maintains program purpose and integrity. 
Just last month, the House of Representatives adopted important 
new accountability provisions requiring teachers to be 
certified and qualified to teach, yet Straight A's could allow 
states to disregard these provisions in their performance plans 
if they so choose.
    We ask that you focus on improving current ESEA programs, 
and not overhaul them as outlined in H.R. 2300. Instead we ask 
that you strengthen your commitment to improving education 
through support for an increased federal investment.
            Sincerely,
                    American Association of University Women;
                    American Federation of School Administrators;
                    American Federation of Teachers;
                    Association for Career and Technical Education;
                    Consortium for School Networking;
                    Council of the Chief State School Officers;
                    Council of The Great City Schools;
                    International Reading Association;
                    National Alliance of Black School Educators;
                    National Association for Bilingual Education;
                    National Association for Elementary School 
                            Principals;
                    National Association of School Psychologists;
                    National Association of Secondary School 
                            Principals;
                    National Association of State Boards of Education;
                    National Association of State Directors of Special 
                            Education;
                    National Education Association;
                    National Education Knowledge Industry Association;
                    National PTA;
                    National Science Teachers Association;
                    New York State Education Department.
                                ------                                

                              Leadership Conference
                                           on Civil Rights,
                                   Washington, DC, October 1, 1999.
Hon. William L. Clay,
House of Representatives, Rayburn House Office Building,
Washington, DC.

   H.R. 2300 Undercuts Education Reform and Fails to Target Resources

    Dear Representative Clay: The Leadership Conference on 
Civil Rights (LCCR) strongly supports legislation that will 
extend and improve the 1994 Elementary and Secondary Education 
Act (ESEA) Title I reforms that Congress adopted to provide 
educational opportunity to all children. We oppose the Academic 
Achievement for All Act (Straight A's) (H.R. 2300) because it 
would undercut the premise of those reforms by diluting the 
commitment to higher standards and dissipating the effort to 
target resources to children who need them the most. Further, 
it would have a grave impact on the gender equity language that 
LCCR worked hard to incorporate into the 1994 ESEA.
    H.R. 2300 would create a block grant that gives states, 
through governors and state legislatures, the authority to 
consolidate over $11.9 billion on federal education funds. More 
than 80 percent of all Federal support to elementary and 
secondary education would be included in this block grant. 
Further, states could divert education funds to other purposes.
    Currently local school districts have authority and 
flexibility with their federal education funds to carry out the 
programs established by Congress. H.R. 2300 would allow 
governors and state legislatures, not local school districts, 
control over all federal education funds. Thus, if this bill 
were enacted, the balance of authority within a state would 
shift from local communities to governors and state 
legislatures.
    LCCR believes that H.R. 2300 undermines the federal 
commitment to improve public schools. It offers funding to 
states with no assurance that these funds will go to helping 
all children reach high standards and support proven practices 
to raise student achievement. Straight A's does not ensure that 
the most disadvantaged students receive the resources and 
support they need to achieve high academic standards, and it 
does not promote gender bias-free education. Indeed, as a 
recent Government Accounting Office report pointed out, federal 
education funds are much more targeted to areas of need than 
state funds.
    Nor has any case been made that H.R. 2300 is needed. Broad 
authority to waive regulations exists under current law and 
there is no evidence that states or local school districts are 
currently restrained from taking any educational initiative.
    If H.R. 2300 is enacted, governors and legislatures could 
decide to use all federal education funding without regard to 
the specific educational purposes that Congress has identified 
as national priorities. H.R. 2300 would effectively eliminate 
most of the federal education programs, including: the Women's 
Educational Equity Act (WEEA), the only federal program aimed 
at promoting educational equity for girls and women; Title I, 
which provides funding to low-income schools; and professional 
development, education technology, and vocational education 
programs. If H.R. 2300 were to become law, schools would no 
longer be encouraged to promote gender bias-free education 
including: addressing gender bias in teacher training; 
preventing sexual harassment in schools; meeting the special 
needs of pregnant and parenting teenagers; or promoting math 
and science courses for girls.
    We urge you to support higher standards and targeting 
resources to children who need them most and to oppose H.R. 
2300 when it is considered by the House Education and the 
Workforce Committee. If you have any questions, please call 
Wade Henderson, Bill Taylor, or Nancy Zirkin.
            Sincerely,
                                   Wade Henderson,
                                           Leadership Conference on 
                                               Civil Rights.
                                   Bill Taylor,
                                           Leadership Conference on 
                                               Civil Rights.
                                   Nancy Zirkin,
                                           American Association of 
                                               University Women.
                                ------                                

                         Council of the Great City Schools,
                                  Washington, DC, October 12, 1999.
Hon. William Clay,
Ranking Member, Education and the Workforce Committee,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Congressman Clay: The Council of the Great City 
Schools, the coalition of the nation's largest central city 
school districts, writes to express our unequivocal opposition 
to the Straight A's bill pending before the Committee.
    The bill overrides the traditional focus of federal 
education assistance that targets funds and services on 
children with special needs. This ``super flex'' approach is 
tantamount to a wide-open block grant of federal elementary and 
secondary aid. Ironically, this untargeted approach is 
apparently unacceptable for educational services targeted on 
disabled children, but acceptable for disadvantaged children, 
migrant children, neglected and delinquent children, and 
others.
    The bill repeals from current law virtually all critical 
local decision-making authority regarding the use and focus of 
these super flex funds, allowing the States to dictate local 
uses of funds based upon their political judgement at the 
moment. School discipline and security, for example, could be 
the State's chosen priority, to the exclusion of local school 
district priorities such as reading, math, science, or special 
needs children. A State could decide to use all these federal 
funds for private school vouchers, if allowed under State law. 
And similarly, a State could hire an army of new state 
employees to ostensibly help local school districts.
    In addition, the bill overrides current local formula 
allocations under a variety of programs, replacing these local 
allocations with only a minimal Title I hold-harmless provision 
to ensure that a school district receives any funding 
whatsoever under this bill. In short, with the exception of a 
Title I hold-harmless, this ``Straight A's'' bill allows for 
State discretionary de-funding of individual school districts.
    Finally, the bill ostensibly trades flexibility for greater 
accountability. Yet, the bill provides for only a minimal 
administrative wrist slap if no progress is made in the five-
year term of the State performance agreement.
    The Council requests a ``NO'' vote on this unwise and 
potentially harmful measure.
            Sincerely,
                              Michael Casserly, Executive Director.
                                ------                                

                            National Education Association,
                                   Washington, DC, October 5, 1999.
Committee on Education and the Workforce,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Representative: On behalf of the National Education 
Association's (NEA) 2.4 million members, we would like to 
express our strong opposition to the Academic Achievement for 
All Act (H.R. 2300), scheduled to be marked-up October 6th. We 
believe this bill would have devastating consequences for the 
future strength of our public education system.

    NEA strongly supports efforts to strengthen federal 
education programs through increased efficiency, effectiveness 
and flexibility. The proposed block grant legislation, however, 
would undermine such reform efforts by failing to maintain 
fiscal and programmatic accountability, eliminating targeting 
of programs to specific needs, and diluting distribution of 
funds to schools based on financial need.

    Federal investment in public education has been successful 
precisely because of the accountability and controls placed on 
the dollars and the targeting of federal resources to those 
areas with the greatest needs. Targeted, accountable, federal 
programs have been essential in addressing national concerns 
not addressed by individual states and in ensuring all students 
a quality public education. Eliminating federal accountability 
and local decision-making--and turning all control for federal 
dollars over to Governors--represents a major step in the wrong 
direction.

    In addition, because the proposed legislation allows 
federal funds to be used for any education purpose permissible 
under state law, it could result in the diversion of dollars 
away from public schools through private or religious school 
vouchers. NEA strongly opposes vouchers and voucher-like plans 
that divert essential resources from the 90 percent of students 
attending public schools.

    Finally, NEA believes that the proposed block grant would 
contradict the very important accountability proposals included 
in the Student Results Act (H.R. 2). By allowing states to opt 
out of these accountability provisions, H.R. 2300 undermines 
bipartisan efforts to strengthen programs through increased 
accountability.

    We believe H.R. 2300 represents a dangerous threat to 
efforts to enact positive education reforms and to strengthen 
public education for the 21st century. We strongly urge you to 
oppose H.R. 2300.

            Sincerely,
                                    Mary Elizabeth Teasley,
                                  Director of Government Relations.
                                   William L. Clay.
                                   Dale E. Kildee.
                                   Major R. Owens.
                                   Patsy T. Mink.
                                   Tim Roemer.
                                   Lynn Woolsey.
                                   Chaka Fattah.
                                   Carolyn McCarthy.
                                   Ron Kind.
                                   Harold E. Ford, Jr.
                                   David Wu.
                                   George Miller.
                                   Matthew G. Martinez.
                                   Donald M. Payne.
                                   Robert E. Andrews.
                                   Bobby Scott.
                                   Carlos Romero-Barcelo.
                                   Ruben Hinojosa.
                                   John F. Tierney.
                                   Loretta Sanchez.
                                   Dennis J. Kucinich.
                                   Rush Holt.

                            ADDITIONAL VIEWS

    During the House Education and the Workforce Committee's 
markup of H.R. 2300, the Academic Achievement for All Act 
(Straight A's Act), Congressman Chaka Fattah offered and we 
supported an amendments that would focus the Federal 
government's efforts on ensuring that all public school 
students receive an equal and adequate education regardless of 
where they live. This amendments received the full support of 
our Democratic colleagues on the Committee.

    Congressman Fattah's amendment offered to H.R. 2300 on 
educational equity would simply require that States certify to 
the Secretary of Education that either the per pupil 
expenditures are ``substantially equal'' across the state or 
that achievement levels are ``substantially equal'' across the 
state. The amendment further calls for the consultation with 
the National Academy of Sciences to develop definitions for 
``substantially equal'' and ``per pupil expenditures''.

    When the issue of school finance equity has been raised 
supporters of the status quo have argued that achievement is 
not directly related to quantity of dollars and services 
provided to public school students. We strongly disagree with 
this assertion. The obsolescence of our nation's school finance 
systems is having a devastating effect on both educational 
equity and educational equality in school districts all over 
the country. There has been no significant change in these 
systems for 70 years. Court challenges pending in 23 states are 
finding not only that they perpetuate gross disparities in the 
resources that are available to districts of different wealth, 
but also that these antiquated systems are geared to meeting 
minimum standards rather than to providing the high quality, 
world class education our children need to compete in today's 
global economy.

    The United States consistently ranks last among the top ten 
industrialized nations in the educational attainment of its 
students. Most of the school districts in the country need 
enriched and expanded curricula, better facilities, higher 
quality and greater quantity of text books, instructional 
equipment, audiovisual materials, consumable supplies, computer 
labs and libraries. Poorer school districts have inferior 
course offerings, dilapidated facilities, higher drop out 
rates, and failing scores. We cannot lift our national 
performance without addressing the need of these districts. We 
cannot preserve our viability as a nation unless we can insure 
that all

children have the level of education they need to be citizens 
and to compete in the labor market.

                                   Chaka Fattah.
                                   Patsy T. Mink.
                                   Donald M. Payne.