Before the U.S. House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations, Ralph Regula, Chairman
April 26, 2001
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:
I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you to discuss the President's 2002 budget for the programs administered by the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE). President Bush has made improving the quality of our Nation's elementary and secondary schools his top priority. No Child Left Behind, the President's framework for reform announced only days after he assumed office, would apply proven strategies to strengthen Federal support for State and local efforts to improve our schools. These strategies include high State standards; annual testing of all students in grades 3-8 in reading and math; increased accountability for student performance; reduced bureaucracy and greater flexibility for States, school districts, and schools; and expanded options for parents to make choices for their children's education.
As you know, both the House and Senate are working to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The Administration is working with Congress to incorporate the proposals described in No Child Left Behind in the final reauthorization bill.
For OESE programs, the 2002 budget request is $18.6 billion. The increase of $562.1 million over fiscal year 2001 includes amounts for some programs that, in past years, were requested in other accounts. This request would fund the first year of a reauthorized ESEA and, in particular, target resources on closing the achievement gap between disadvantaged students and their peers through stronger accountability, help for failing schools, and more choices for parents. Other priorities include helping States develop new assessments; the new Reading First program; consolidations of existing professional development, technology, and small categorical programs; and leveraging support for charter school facilities.
Closing the Achievement Gap
One of the primary means of closing the achievement gap is to spend the Federal investment in Title I more effectively by demanding greater accountability for improved student performance. To help districts and schools respond to this demand, the $9.1 billion request for Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies provides $459 million over the 2001 level to turn around failing schools, improve teacher quality, and ensure that all students achieve to the standards at their grade levels. The request would focus new resources on high-poverty school districts by allocating the entire increase through the Targeted Grants formula. In addition, the $9.1 billion total includes $400 million for State and local technical assistance to help turn around low-performing schools.
To give parents the information needed to know how well their child is doing in school, and to measure the progress of schools in closing achievement gaps and helping all students reach high State standards, the request provides $320 million to help States develop and implement the additional State assessments that would be needed to test annually all students in grades 3 through 8 in reading and math. States would select and design their own new assessments, which must be in place by the 2004-2005 school year and would be aligned with State standards and produce student achievement results comparable from year to year. States would use assessment results to measure the performance of school districts and schools and to identify schools needing improvement under the school improvement and corrective action provisions of the Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies program.
One of the keys to closing the achievement gap is improving the reading skills of our Nation's schoolchildren. This is why the President's budget includes $900 million for a new Reading First State Grants program to help States and school districts implement comprehensive reading instruction grounded in scientifically based reading research for children in kindergarten through 3rd grade. In addition, a $75 million Early Reading First program would complement the Reading First State Grants program by supporting model programs that use scientifically based strategies to enhance the pre-reading skills and school readiness of preschool-aged children.
The President's budget also would help close the achievement gap in high-poverty schools by providing $846 million for 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which would be converted to a State formula grant program that supports high-quality extended learning opportunities, particularly for students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools. Eligibility to receive grants would be opened up to community-based organizations as well as local educational agencies.
In addition, as part of the Administration's proposals to improve teaching quality, the President is also asking for $30 million for a Transition to Teaching program to support the effective Department of Defense Troops to Teachers program that provides quality teachers for students in poor school districts. The Secretary of Education would have the authority to build on this program to recruit, prepare, and support a wide range of talented career-changing professionals as teachers, particularly in high-poverty schools and in high-need subject areas.
Expanding Flexibility and Reducing Bureaucracy
No Child Left Behind calls for reducing regulations, paperwork, and bureaucracy and giving States and communities the flexibility to create their own solutions and achieve better results. The OESE budget request supports proposals to consolidate and streamline existing education programs, giving States and school districts more flexibility to use Federal funds to address their own priorities, and ensuring accountability through performance-based grants.
For example, the proposed $2.6 billion State Grants for Improving Teacher Quality formula grant program would combine funding from several existing education programs, including the Class Size Reduction and Eisenhower Professional Development State Grant programs, into performance-based grants. The request includes a $375 million, or 17 percent, increase over the current levels for the antecedent programs to help States and school districts fund their own needs and priorities in developing and supporting a high-quality teaching force.
The budget request also includes $817 million for a proposed Educational Technology State Grants program that would consolidate existing educational technology programs into a single, performance-based grant program to ensure that schools use technology effectively to improve teaching and learning. And the $472 million Choice and Innovation State Grants initiative would consolidate several overlapping and duplicative categorical programs into one flexible grant program. States and school districts would have the freedom to implement their own innovative strategies for improving student achievement, include the expansion of school choice options.
Empowering Parents With Choices
The request supports a new focus on more choices for parents and students in other ways as well. For example, No Child Left Behind would make school-by-school report cards available to parents and give students in failing and unsafe schools the option of transferring to a better school. The budget also would expand choices for parents through a $175 million Charter Schools Homestead Fund, which would provide grants to leverage funds to construct, lease, purchase, or renovate academic facilities for use by charter schools. And a $10 million increase for the Charter Schools program, for a total of $200 million in 2002, would support approximately 1,780 new and existing charter schools that offer enhanced public school choice and have the flexibility to offer innovative educational programs in exchange for greater accountability for student achievement. Finally, the request provides level funding of $110 million to continue the Magnet Schools Assistance program.
Other Program Highlights
Other priorities in the President's budget for elementary and secondary education include $644.3 million for a streamlined Safe and Drug-Free Schools program. The reauthorized program would more effectively provide students with drug- and violence-prevention programs and help schools implement strategies to improve school safety.
The request also includes level funding of $260 million for the Comprehensive School Reform Demonstrations program, which helps schools adopt and implement research-based school reforms that enable all children to meet challenging State standards, $250 million for the recently reauthorized Even Start family literacy program, $22 million for the Advanced Placement Incentives program that helps pay test fees and expand advanced placement instruction for students in high-poverty schools, and $28 million for Comprehensive Regional Assistance Centers that will help States and school districts implement the reauthorized ESEA.
The President's 2002 budget maintains support for programs serving student populations with special educational needs. For example, the request for Indian education activities includes $92.8 million for Grants to Local Educational Agencies to address the particular needs of Indian children who are enrolled in urban and rural schools; $20 million for Special Programs for Indian Children to continue Demonstration Grants, make new and continuation awards under the American Indian Teacher Corps, and make continuation awards for the American Indian Administrator Corps; and $3.2 million for National Activities to carry out research activities developed as part of a comprehensive research agenda to provide information on the status of education for the Indian population.
The budget also includes level funding of $380 million for the Title I Migrant Education program, $46 million for the Title I Neglected and Delinquent program, $28 million for Education for Native Hawaiians, $15 million for Alaska Native Education Equity, and $35 million for Education for Homeless Children and Youth.
Finally, the President's budget maintains level funding for the major Impact Aid programs, while providing $150 million for Impact Aid Construction, a $137 million increase over the previous year. Impact Aid funds are paid to school districts with large proportions of federally connected children. Payments are made by formula on behalf of military dependent students and students residing on Indian lands. Impact Aid districts have a large backlog of school repairs to make, but have difficulty financing such repairs because they unable to tax Federal lands within district boundaries. The construction request would appropriately compensate districts for the effect of the Federal presence.
The Department continues to emphasize accountability for ensuring that our programs are well managed and reaching our performance goals. As part of the budget submission, we have provided Congress with an update of our progress against the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) indicators that we have developed for every program at the Department.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared remarks. My colleagues and I would be happy to respond to any questions that you may have.