“Watered Down” Education Reform Bill Before House

by Fred Jackson and Chad Groening

(AgapePress) – In Washington, Republican lawmakers will make a final push this week to restore some elements of what they see as a watered-down, Democratic version of President Bush's education plan.

When George W. Bush was running for President last year, he made educational reform a major part of his campaign. He said among the keys to correcting the serious problems was giving parents the power to get their kids out of failing public schools. To do that, he proposed giving those parents school vouchers which they could use to send their kids to private or church-run schools.

But with the election over and the bill introduced to Congress, Republicans have given in to Democrat demands to remove the voucher portion of the legislation. Some Republicans are hoping they can get it back in during last-minute lobbying before this week's vote. The Washington Times reports they also would like to strengthen other portions of the bill which have been diluted during debate, including those dealing with school prayer and parental consent for bilingual education.

Bauer's View

As Campaign for Working Families executive director Gary Bauer says, “spending always trends up and bureaucracy always grows. Unfortunately, that is what is currently happening with the education bill.”

The informed, level-headed view on education has been consistent for 30 years. We want more local control, a bigger role for parents, vouchers and tax credits, less Washington regulation, a smaller federal education bureaucracy, an end to political correctness in the classroom, more emphasis on the basics and less teacher union control.

“The new Administration sent a bill to Capitol Hill that tried a middle way,” Bauer explains. “It increased federal spending on education and made the federal bureaucracy larger, but it included a modified voucher proposal and offered more local control over how federal education dollars were spent. But then a fatal mistake was made. Clear signals went out that the White House wanted to win Sen. Ted Kennedy's (D-MA) support for the bill in the Senate and Rep. George Miller's (D-GA) support in the House.

“Then, the predictable happened. Vouchers were stripped from the bill, as were block grants. Bush had proposed an 11% increase in federal spending on education. The House version now has a 22% increase and Ted Kennedy is complaining that it is still not enough. The bill passed a House committee last week 41-to-7. Six of the seven dissenters were conservative Republicans who couldn't believe their eyes.”

(This update courtesy of Agape Press.)

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