Education Bill Passes House; Reformer Calls It “Starting Point”

by Bill Fancher and Jody Brown

(AgapePress) – The U.S. House yesterday overwhelmingly approved President Bush's education bill over protests from some groups charging it had been watered down and stripped of any proposals he promised on the campaign trail.

The bill passed on a 384-to-45 vote, was hailed as a “compromise” by both sides of the aisle, and called “a giant step toward improving America's public schools” by the President. But as Reuters News points out, both parties still had things to complain about in the final bill. Democrats did not get the money they wanted for repairing run-down schools and reducing overcrowding in classrooms; and Republicans did not get school vouchers and financial flexibility for states.

Some Republicans had been very critical of the modified legislation as it made its way through the House. Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation described it as nothing more than an “old-fashioned, big-government, big-spending … piece of legislation.” And James Dobson had gone so far as to say there is “nothing in this education bill that will please pro-family people.”

But Chris Braunlich of the Washington-based Center for Education Reform says conservatives must take what they can get.

“Someone at one point [asked], 'Is this half a loaf or a quarter of a loaf instead of a full loaf?' I think part of the key is … the recipe that's involved,” Braunlich says. “It's a proposal, but I think in the end we'll begin that process of demanding accountability for the dollars that taxpayers put into the public education system.”

Still, Braunlich — like Weyrich, Dobson, and others — says he is bothered by the removal of several reform ideas from the education package. He said he was hopeful some of those proposals would make it back into the bill but, given the political make-up of Congress, he did not expect that to happen.

While Braunlich maintains the bill is a “starting point” for more reform, critics of the bill say it is too much of a compromise.

(This update courtesy of Agape Press.)

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