Serial No. 106-41


Printed for the use of the Committee on Education

and the Workforce

Academic Achievement For All: Increasing Flexibility and

Improving Student Performance and Accountability

Thursday, May 20, 1999

2175 Rayburn House Office Building

House of Representatives

Washington, D.C.













Committee on Education and the Workforce

Hearing on "Academic Achievement For All: Increasing Flexibility and

Improving Student Performance and Accountability"

Thursday, May 20, 1999

2175 Rayburn House Office Building

House of Representatives

Washington, D.C.



The committee met, pursuant to call, at 9:30 a.m., in Room 2175, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. William F. Goodling [chairman of the committee] presiding.

Present: Representatives Goodling, Petri, Hoekstra, McKeon, Castle, Talent, Norwood, Schaffer, Deal, Ehlers, Tancredo, DeMint, Isakson, Clay, Miller, Kildee, Martinez, Owens, Payne, Andrews, Roemer, Scott, Woolsey, McCarthy, Tierney, Kind and Wu.

Staff Present: Robert Borden, Professional Staff Member; Becky Campoverde, Communications Director; Pam Davidson, Legislative Assistant; Victor Klatt, Education Policy Coordinator; Sally Lovejoy, Senior Education Policy Advisor; Michael Reynard, Media Assistant; Jo-Marie, St. Martin, General Counsel; Kent Talbert, Professional Staff Member; Kevin Talley, Staff Director; Christie Wolfe, Professional Staff Member; Shane Wright, Legislative Assistant; Dan Lara, Press Secretary; Kirsten Duncan, Staff Assistant; Gail Weiss, Minority Staff Director; Mark Zuckerman, Minority General Counsel; June Harris, Minority Education Coordinator; Alex Nock, Minority Legislative Associate, Education; Mary Ellen Ardouny, Minority Legislative Associate, Education; and Roxana Folescu, Minority Staff Assistant, Education.


Chairman Goodling. Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to welcome our Members, witnesses and other guests to our hearing this morning on the Academic Achievement for All proposal, the Straight A's proposal.

The Straight A's proposal gives states a choice. States can either continue operating federal education programs the old way, or at their option they can try something new. I want to emphasize the word "optional." The new thing they could do is combine certain K-12 federal education funds in exchange for strict academic accountability.

For too long there has been little or no true academic accountability in federal education programs. This proposal would bring quality, performance and academic results onto center stage. In exchange, a proportionate amount of flexibility would be granted to the states. Straight A's recognizes that states and school districts may have better ways to achieving academic results. In many respects, this would be modeled after Texas's successful state accountability system where performance and results are central.

The President, Secretary Riley and many others have been arguing in past weeks and days for more accountability. Well, this is it. It's accountability for academic achievement for all groups of students; and it's flexibility for combining funds.

The Governors support the concepts incorporated into Straight A's. Governor Gray Davis, a Democrat of California, for example, in talking about academic accountability on Meet the Press agreed to be held accountable for student performance if the federal government would give the Governors the flexibility to get the job done. And the 1999 agenda for the National Governors Association calls for changing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act so states can more effectively coordinate state and local education programs with the federal programs. The Straight A's proposal would promote better coordination by allowing funds to be combined and used for any education purpose permitted by state law.

Groups as diverse as the Heritage Foundation on the right, to the Education Leaders Council and the Progressive Policy Institute in the middle, to the Education Trust on the left have all expressed keen interest in the concepts in this proposal. Some of these have endorsed the proposal, while others continue to review it, but there is great interest in it.

Some may argue that Straight A's is a back-door way to take Title I money from the poor. That is not true. Under the proposal, the amount of Title I money received at the school district level would at least be what it was the preceding year. In addition, academic accountability would apply to all groups of students and be disaggregated as set forth in Title I for each of the groups.

In summary, Straight A's is optional. It does not eliminate any K-12 program. It just gives states a different approach to consider, and it links freedom in managing federal education dollars to strict academic accountability.

Finally, I would like to welcome each of our witnesses to the hearing this morning and thank them for taking time to be with us.

See Appendix A for the Opening Statement of the Honorable Bill Goodling


Chairman Goodling. At this time I would turn to the Ranking Member for any statement he might have.


Mr. Clay. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Mr. Chairman, I am concerned that Super Ed-Flex is simply another way of block-granting federal money without providing for accountability. This superwaiver bill sounds like a block grant dressed up for a summer block party.

A responsible answer to our schools' problems is the Administration's Comprehensive Elementary and Secondary Education Act which President Clinton and Secretary Riley will send to Congress this week. This legislation will help communities by raising academic performance through smaller class sizes, by ensuring every classroom has a highly qualified and fully certified teacher, and holding schools accountable for achieving high academic standards, and by helping every school become safe and disciplined.

Mr. Chairman, I think Congress should use its influence and resources to help inferior schools become superior schools. We do not need quick fixes like superwaivers. We need accountability and results. We need smaller class size and qualified and certified teachers in every classroom, and we need to replace dilapidated and crumbling schools, and we need schools that teach to high standards. Unfortunately, the emphasis on superwaiver flexibility, blank check giveaways, private voucher systems and block grant provisions will not provide schools, parents and teachers the change they so urgently seek.

Mr. Chairman, I hope that you will allow our Members to continue the bipartisan work on improving our ESEA without being distracted by quick-fix proposals like this so-called Super-Ed waiver. I yield back the balance of my time.


Chairman Goodling. Our witnesses today are Dr. Chester E. Finn, Jr., president, Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, Washington, D.C. Dr. Finn is the president of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and a John M.. Olin fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He is also a former Assistant Secretary for Research and Improvement at the Department of Education during the Bush administration and is a founding partner and senior scholar at the Edison Project.

The Honorable Bret Schundler, mayor, Jersey City, New Jersey. Mayor Schundler has been a mayor of Jersey City since 1992. Throughout his tenure he has been known as a big supporter of education reform.

Dr. William Moloney, commissioner of education, Colorado Department of Education, Denver, Colorado. Dr. Moloney is the commissioner of education for the State of Colorado as well as a member of the Education Leaders Council, an organization representing several reform-minded chief State school officers. He is also a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for the national assessment of educational progress.

The Honorable Ralph M. Tanner, Kansas State representative, district 10, Baldwin City, Kansas. Representative Tanner represents the 10th district in the Kansas State Legislature and is the chairman of the house committee on education. His expertise in education stems from a long career in education both in the political and nonpolitical arenas. He is here today representing the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Ms. Jennifer A. Marshall, education policy analyst, Family Research Council, Washington, D.C. Ms. Marshall is an education policy analyst for the Family Research Council where she is responsible for monitoring current education policy and coordinating grass-roots communications with regard to education. The Family Research Council is part of a larger group known as the EXPECT Coalition, an alliance of reform-minded organizations seeking excellence in education for parents, children and teachers.

If you will all come around the table, those that aren't here yet hopefully will be joining us as you testify. We have a little clock system. Most of you know about that. When the green light is on, that is start; when the yellow light is on, that is slow down; and when the red light is on, it is time to finish your remarks. If you want to summarize your remarks, that will be fine. All of your remarks will be included in the record.


Chairman Goodling. And we will start according to the way that you are seated. Dr. Finn.



Dr. Finn. If I may take one minute to call the committee's attention to an urgent matter. Yesterday, we learned that the Commissioner of Education Statistics, Pascal Forgione, has resigned under pressure from the Secretary's office and the White House. He had been doing a terrific job and was the obvious candidate for reappointment to another term, but he was forced out because he had the gumption to protest Vice President Gore's attempt to make political hay from the release of NAEP results.

Protecting federal education statistics from politicization is one of the most important tasks in Washington. The fact that Forgione was let go for vigorously safeguarding the integrity of federal education statistics is a great pity. It sends a very bad signal, and I encourage the committee to take this very seriously in its consideration of that matter.


Chairman Goodling. Thank you.


Mr. Finn. On to Straight A's.

The administration's ESEA proposal unveiled yesterday helps to frame the discussion, as did yours and Mr. Clay's opening remarks. The committee now has before it two starkly contrasting approaches to the renewal of ESEA and two sharply differing views of the proper fderal role in K-12 education. The administration has decided that Washington knows best. It would tighten 1,000 federal screws on the sates, local school systems, and individual schools. It would, in many respects, federalize public education in the U.S. I think it is a bad proposal for many reasons, but it does contain a clear image of the federal role, which we could term "make the sates do what we tell them because we know best what will work for kids."

The Straight A's proposal represents a very different view. It loosens the screws. It trusts the states to use their federal money wisely in pursuit of better education, but it insists that the states produce and demonstrate results; that academic achievement actually rise, particularly for poor and disadvantaged children.

The Administration's plan claims to impose accountability, but it does so primarily by regulating inputs and procedures. The Straight A's proposal also imposes accountability, but its strategy is freedom, innovation and diversity. It respects the 10th amendment and places the states clearly in charge. It isn't naive, though. It follows the old arms control maxim: Trust but verify. It trusts the states with the money, but it insists on verification of their results.

For federal policy, Straight A's would represent an historic shift from a preoccupation with inputs to a laser-like focus on results, from the regulation of how the money is spent to a clear insistence that higher achievement actually be produced. Straight A's is not a traditional block grant proposal. They just put the money on the stump. They trust, but they don't verify. It's more like the logic of a charter school, which is given great freedom for a limited period of time on condition that it produces educational results during that period of time. Washington, under Straight A's, would take the same approach to participating states and districts.

I say participating states and districts because Straight A's would be voluntary. A state decides whether it wants to take its federal money this way or in the traditional categorical way. Straight A's is actually a much higher risk for the state. Think of the embarrassment of setting explicit achievement targets and then not reaching them. Many states will likely prefer the comfort of the old categorical approach.

Straight A's is not meant as an alternative for all states. It's meant as an option. It coexists with the categorical programs; however, the Congress may revise them. You could actually enact the administration's plan and Straight A's. I know it sounds schizophrenic, but it would give states a clear set of alternatives and would set up a very interesting experiment with two different approaches, an experiment from which we might learn a great deal between now and the next reauthorization cycle.

Some experimentation would not be a bad thing. The administration seems far too confident that it knows what works. I look at 34 years of ESEA history to conclude that we are a long way from being sure what will work in every corner of this big, diverse country, particularly with respect to the education of disadvantaged children. Maybe we should try more than one approach. Maybe Congress should give states some alternatives. The administration's proposal isn't the only other set of ideas around. The Progressive Policy Institute has recently come forth with an interesting ESEA proposal. The Great City Schools have. Diane Ravitch has. Consider letting several flowers bloom.

One more point about Straight A's. There is talk of building hold-harmless requirements into it, particularly with the Title I dollars. I believe this would so seriously weaken the Straight A's idea that states would then not want to bother with it. Title I represents two-thirds of the money that a state might put into its Straight A's package. If that money is tied up with formulas, input controls, and other spending requirements, the remaining flexibility for the state will be too minimal to provide enough leverage to produce improved results. Remember how little leverage the whole federal piece of a state's education budget provides in the first place; 7 percent isn't much, and Straight A's doesn't even involve the whole 7 percent.

So please resist the temptation to go back to regulating inputs. Shun set-asides. Eschew hold-harmless provisions. Let states and districts free. Trust them, but verify. Make them show their results. Be fussy about how they show those results. Be just as fussy about the results shown by other approaches to ESEA. Evaluate the heck out of all of them, and let's try to make something work for a change. Thank you.


Chairman Goodling. Thank you.

See Appendix B for the Written Statement of Dr. Finn


Chairman Goodling. Mayor Schundler.





Mr. Schundler. I want to thank you for inviting us down.

I am speaking now as a mayor. We would like to see cities, at least large cities, be able to directly have the ability to elect to participate in this program. It is a very good program. I think many state governors will choose to have the money come this way and be held directly accountable for results, but I would like to see the ability at the city level in the event that a certain state decides not to take this option, we could still elect to take this option.

I think what you find at the local level of government is significantly less partisan than what you see in Congress and at the state level of government. Those of us at the local level, people don't care so much what party you are, they just care that you do something that works. They don't care how you get it done, they just care that you get it done. My city is almost all Democrats. I happen to be a Republican. There are other cities where you see the reverse in place. The bottom line is that people care that you get the job done.

I can't tell you how frustrating it is to be a local official, or for that matter a teacher in a classroom, to be able to see problems that you know you could solve if you had the freedom to use your own intelligence and create a program tailor-made to the needs of children that are not being well met today, but you can't do it because of restrictions that say that you have to take this approach even if that approach is not working.

In my own city, we became the first city in the United States of America to be taken over by a state government and have the district directly administered by the state government. That took place in 1989, several years before I came into office. Since the state has come in, 10 years have expired. We have increased our budget from $180 million to $380 million. We have seen almost no improvement in test scores. We have seen no improvement in graduation rates. We have seen an increase in violence. That is not because the state has come in that we have seen that increase in violence, but what I am suggesting is that for all of the improvement in compliance with state regulations, they have not tried to do anything differently than what they were doing before. They are pursuing a failed model, and they are pursuing it with extreme punctiliousness relative to state regulations, but it is not working.

It is time to have some respect for the actual professionals in the classroom, for the administrators who are there in the communities, and to allow them to do things in an innovative fashion and be held accountable for results instead of just by regulation. I think that is what this legislation is intended to do, and it specifically concerns itself with the young people in our school systems who are most at risk of dropping out and failing, those children who need remedial assistance.

We should give the professionals the freedom and the financing they need to be successful and then hold them accountable. I think that is what this legislation is intending to do, and I can speak on behalf of those at the local level who see the problems and are pained by the inability to address them in a way that makes sense, and we would like to have the freedom to make sure that these children get the help that they need.


Chairman Goodling. Thank you, Mayor.

See Appendix C for the Written Statement of Mayor Schundler




Mr. Moloney. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, thank you for asking me to be here today.

As a member of the board of the Education Leaders Council, I am also speaking on behalf of the group the State of Colorado joined along with colleagues in Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan and Arizona because we knew that public education could not stand business as usual, and that included business-as-usual organizations, hence the ELC.

I have worked in six states. In every one of them I have been responsible for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and I must say that we need something dramatically different. In Colorado we have a reform program built by members of both parties that is one of the best in the nation. I know this from the perspective also of the National Assessment Governing Board on which Secretary Riley honored me by three appointments. And yet what we are doing in Colorado and where we have seen heartening progress among our poorer schools, I must tell you that federal education programs have been missing in action. They have not only failed to contribute to what needed to be done, but they actively stood in the way.

Many of you have heard of Bessemer Elementary School in Pueblo, Colorado. Paul Harvey, USA Today and others made it famous. This 88 percent minority school in the first cycle of our rigorous testing had a pass rate in reading of 12 percent, in writing of 2 percent. And yet those teachers, publicly mortified, knew that they could do what needed to be done, and they began to make a revolution. Today their scores in reading have moved from 12 to 64 percent; in writing from 2 to 48 percent.

They came to me and said, is there any help with federal monies, and I had to say to them no, I am sorry. And I subsequently had to tell the administration of the school that in fact their growing stability will probably make them less eligible, and so they will actually lose. What we need is the flexibility to be able to reward and replicate success, and that we do not have.

Now, over a third of a century ago, I came to this city, and I well remember the circumstances and most particularly the assumptions that created the ESEA 1965. Some of the languages and the assumptions of that act were lifted directly from the landmark Civil Rights Act of the previous year, and in particular the notion that local people could not be trusted. Now, as regards to civil rights in that era, there certainly were some people, Bull Connor comes to mind, who richly deserved distrust, but what a ghastly error it was to extend that mistrust to every school district in the nation and impose a stifling and inflexible set of regulations, the only justification for which they would prevent local people from doing what they wanted instead of what their betters in Washington wanted.

This attitude of hubris and arrogance was best described by David Halberstam in the classic The Best and the Brightest. Thus did the temper of the time, an age of good intentions, go awry, enshrine in major legislation such an act of mistrust. In a quarter of a century of being responsible for the administration of this act, I have never found an adequate way to overcome that tragic design flaw. Only you can do that.

Today the cardinal forces driving school reform are freedom and accountability. In our context you simply cannot have one without the other. Now as the whole nation knows, Colorado suffered a most horrible of tragedies on April 20. However, what the nation does not know is what a terrible blow was inflicted on public education by that event, a blow that is being multiplied this very day by the events in Georgia, which I suspect you are aware of, where we have seen yet another school shooting this morning. Mercifully there were no serious injuries.

However, I would say to you that if we do not wake up, worse will come. It is one level of concern when your child comes home from school unable to read. It is an altogether different level of concern when your child does not come home at all. The rising chorus that we heard in Colorado and across the nation after Columbine was as follows: Poor old public education. Won't change, can't change. Not getting any better. May be getting worse. Certainly getting more dangerous.

Now, to all who care for public education, I say if this is not a clarion call to bravery and boldness on behalf of change, I don't know what is. Give us a little chance. Give us a little hope. Take a risk that our people from our mountain valleys, across our high plains will care about children as much as you, will try as hard, and in the end have the courage to accept the consequences of their own actions on behalf of their own children.

Much will turn on your answer. If this landmark act remains essentially unchanged, then all of us will be accomplices in such future tragedies as unfold in our schools in America.

Thank you for allowing me to come here today. May God bless your honorable work.

See Appendix D for the Written Statement of Dr. Moloney


Chairman Goodling. Representative Tanner, I introduced you before your arrival. We are happy to have you this morning.




Mr. Tanner. Thank you very much. I am delighted to be here. I thank you for your invitation.

My name is Ralph Tanner. I have spent a career as an educator; better said, I believe, as I have spent a career as a teacher. I began my career in the sixth grade teaching every subject that was to be taught in that group. I ended my career as president of not one, but I suppose two colleges or universities along the way, and I admit that an individual is suspect immediately if they have accepted a college presidency more than one time.

I am here this morning not only to represent some of my views, but also the views of my state and the views of the National Conference of State Legislatures. I am an active member of the Assembly on Federal Issues of that body. I have served there for four years, and some of the work that I will do here this morning is on behalf of the lobbying effort that that organization mounts in the federal arena in attempting to answer questions, deal with the issues that you and the Congress must deal with. I also chair the education committee of the House of Representatives in the State of Kansas, so with those credentials you must recognize that I come here with a good deal of baggage. I know the answer from having been there to a few questions, certainly not all. I know the perspectives that are picked up along the way by the individuals who have been in those roles, and I hope to be able to comment about some of those.

MCSL applauds the Congress for your having passed Ed-Flex. For the first time in many years, the Congress has acknowledged that the proliferation of minimally-funded categorical programs has generated significant administrative burdens at all levels of government. Federal education programs duplicate process. Because of differing eligibility and reporting requirements, it takes more than one-third of our state staff and the education agency to manage the federal programs that are funded in the State of Kansas. Those funds should be going to class size reduction, reading programs or enhanced learning opportunities, not to administration. Of course, the irony of Ed-Flex is that elected state policymakers are required to cede some of our legislative statutory regulatory authority to our state education agencies in order to be eligible for relief from federal red tape.

Although Kansas was one of the six original demonstration states, it is too early to evaluate the impacts of Ed-Flex in my state. We do have faith, however, that this will be a considerable improvement over what has ensued previously. Ed-Flex does not go far enough, as you know. The waivers are limited to a handful of programs and are limited in scope. Dozens of other programs remain untouched by the waivers.

Is an extended Ed-Flex the way to go? We think that is probably so. As outlined, the Academic Achievement for All Act offers another state trade-off, but one where the payoff is potentially far greater than Ed-Flex. A state could opt to apply for maximum flexibility, relief from categorical requirements and the ability to commingle state-administered formula grants in exchange for demonstrating that student performance has improved.

This is a bargain that we can all live with, but the devil, as we are prone to say, is in the details. Here are some of our concerns. Districts would be allowed to execute a charter where the state has not done so. Kansas has a strong history of local control based in part on the populous notion that runs through the history of that state. But we believe that the state government must be an actor in this proposition, and to do otherwise we find is constitutionally wrong-headed and, in fact, provisionally wrong-headed.

My concern is not the application of process, it is in the relationship that would follow that application. The Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Gene Hickok told us last year the best way to federalize education is to establish a direct relationship between school districts and the federal government. On this subject, NCSL policy is very clear. A direct relationship between the federal government and the state or local agency is inappropriate.

The second proviso that concerns us is the maintenance of effort provision that we hope you will include in any proposition that you bring to passage in the Congress. The maintenance of effort provision is something on which the states must rely for planning purposes and for execution of an ongoing program.

The role of the U.S. Department of Education in the charter states is unclear. Will the federal apparatus stay in play? What role will the Department play in the approving and monitoring process during a 5-year charter period?

Another concern, and the final one, since the Straight A's Act is an option for states to receive their federal education dollars as a block grant, we have included NCSL's principles for block grants in my testimony.

Our time is limited, and I will not reiterate each of the items, but ask you to take them into consideration as you debate this proposition.

Forty-four years ago the federal government radically changed the agenda for public education by passing the Elementary Secondary Education Act. ESEA was a screen upon which many people projected their own expectations. Some saw it as antipoverty program, and others saw it as an economic development program, and others saw it as a civil rights issue.

For myself and my colleagues in the legislatures, ESEA was a commendable effort to meet some of the unmet needs of children in our system. Targeting money to the disadvantaged and to those in need of remediation was honorable and was necessary. However, that federal funding stream is now so encumbered as to seriously dilute its impact.

For those who fear that Straight A's would dismantle that effort, I would like to offer some reassurance. About two-thirds of the states, including my own, use weighted formulas to provide extra funds for the disadvantaged and for at-risk students. We know from research that this is an effective use of our money. Opting into the Straight A's program would not change the way that we in Kansas, and I dare say my colleagues in other states, would approach our responsibility for providing an education to all of our children. We have learned a lesson about inclusion that is no more likely to be forgotten in Topeka than in Washington, D.C.


Mr. Chairman, I conclude my remarks by suggesting that the committee continue to work closely with state-elected officials to develop this proposal. I commend you for your having come thus far, and I offer the aid of state legislators should you wish to take counsel with us as you continue to work this bill. Thank you.


Chairman Goodling. Thank you Mr. Tanner.

See Appendix E for the Written Statement of State Representative Tanner


Chairman Goodling. Ms. Marshall.



Ms. Marshall. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. I appreciate this opportunity to talk about a proposal that I think will go a long way to breaking down the barriers to educational success that I know have been frustrating to you as Members of Congress, to our organizations and to the constituents we represent.

I speak today on behalf of the Family Research Council, my organization is also a part of the EXPECT Coalition, which is an alliance of reform-minded organizations seeking excellence for parents, children and teachers. Together we represent several million constituents, including the parents, grandparents, teachers and taxpayers that will be influenced by the decisions you make here about education policy.

A number of these groups will later today be sending you a statement in support of the Academic Achievement for All Act. Which we nicknamed Straight A's. It would represent a significant shift in the thinking on education policy here in Washington. Over the past 30 years this town has been consumed with everything that goes into education and then surprised at the results coming out.

When ESEA passed in 1965, it was a mere 32 pages long. Since then Washington has tried to figure out what is wrong with education and what might make it right, but as a result, we today have an ESEA that is almost 1,000 pages long, and instead of providing mere aid to education, Washington today prescribes policy and methodology to local schools. This has the effect of binding the very hands that we need to empower.

Today if you wish to ensure educational excellence, we urge you simply to provide resources to those who can better make decisions, state and local officials along with parents and taxpayers. These are the only people capable of meeting the diverse needs of the 47 million students in all of the schools across this country. All Washington needs to be concerned with is the objective result, and that is: Is academic achievement improving?

This is the focus of the Straight A's proposal, which is built around the following three themes. Straight A's would begin to simplify the federal role in education by supplying aid rather than prescription to states and localities. Second, Straight A's would give education professionals the flexibility to produce academic excellence among their students. And third, Straight A's would provide more objective, simple and direct accountability to parents and taxpayers to ensure that this flexibility reaps a harvest of excellence.

The Straight A's proposal would allow states the option of consolidating funding for K-12 programs of their choice without the regulations associated with those programs. States could use these funds for any education priorities that don't violate their state law or federal law.

Straight A's would change how funds are delivered, but not who the funds cover. If States choose to include Title I in their Straight A's package, they would have to develop a method of distribution that guarantees those low-income students are achieving higher results than under current law. States that choose the Straight A's option would be free from program mandates in exchange for more objective accountability.

We have an awful lot of paperwork, but not much real accountability about whether students are actually benefiting from all of the fuss being made in Washington. The Straight A's proposal would require states to administer the same test of the state's choice as a pretest and a post-test after 5 years. Under the plan, states would designate their own test and the rate which they hope to achieve on that test. States that meet their stipulated academic goals could continue along the path to increased flexibility and perhaps qualify for bonus funding. There is no clear accountability mechanism in federal education policy today.

So the bottom line is does anybody want this, and the answer is yes. People are asking for flexibility in exchange for accountability. Paul Vallas, CEO of Chicago Public Schools, made the following statement to members of this very committee at a recent hearing in Chicago. "I think that the Straight A's proposal is a provocative idea and clearly an excellent starting point for congressional deliberations. We support the concept of combining as many federal programs as possible into one or two grants tied to contracts for agreed-upon results with appropriate penalties for failure and appropriate benefits for success. Can we make this work? I think the experience of the Chicago Public Schools since 1995 demonstrates that it will work."

Here on the panel today we have heard testimony from other state officials who are calling for the federal government to place greater trust in the hands of them and their colleagues. As a final example, about two months ago a governor of the President's own party called for greater flexibility in the newest categorical program, the class-size reduction effort for grades K-3. Governor Gray Davis of California wanted the flexibility to use funds for other purposes, which in his case was to reduce class size in high school. To quote him, if Washington says to the states, you just improve student performance, and we will give you the money, that will give all of the Governors the flexibility to get the job done. Governor Davis has since been given a waiver to make the necessary exception to the rule for his case.

But Washington should not make education rules only to have to break them for the diverse needs of this country. We urge Congress to simply insist on excellence in education in the results and leave methods in the capable hands of states and localities. Thank you.


Chairman Goodling. Thank you.

See Appendix F for the Written Statement of Ms. Marshall


Chairman Goodling. I will be very brief with my questions since we have quite a few people here.

My question would be to the mayor, as I understood your testimony, you indicated of course that the federal dollars didn't do the job, and then the state took over and didn't change anything other than did the same thing that the federal government always does. If we just give more money, apparently that will solve the problem. If I understood what you were saying, you were hoping that the state would do what Illinois did to the mayor of Chicago; say, here it is, your baby, you are the king, you are the superintendent, you are the dictator, you are everything. Make it work. Did I follow your testimony correctly?


Mr. Schundler. I think they could give the power to the school board, but they should hold them accountable. If the school board does not show improvements after freedom in funding, they should ban those school board members from running for reelection. There should be an absolute minimum level of efficacy that they demonstrate.

But the point is that spending alone and following the rules will do nothing except push up taxes and result in compliance. It may not result in educational improvements, and what we need to do is make sure that the money and the freedom is there and make sure that the accountability is there for the results.


Chairman Goodling. In other words, you are continuing then to say that you would hope that as mayor you would be as smart as the mayor in Chicago and turn the operation over to a very successful businessman and attorney and give him free rein with his board to do it right?


Mr. Schundler. Yes. Ultimately with regard to this particular bill, I do not think, if I can be as explicit as I can, that compliance is our goal. The state is extremely good at complying with the state regulations and with the federal regulations. They have worked very hard to fulfill the model that the federal government has given them and that their own internal bureaucracy has suggested. They have fulfilled the models to the nth degree, and they have amply funded those programs. It has not worked.

We have to allow educators to look at children not as parts of solving a bureaucratic dictate, but as the focus of their efforts and build a program around the children's needs and see if it works. If it does not, change the program. If we give them the freedom, some of their efforts will fail, but they will keep working until they get it right.


Chairman Goodling. Thank you very much. Mr. Miller.


Mr. Miller. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I thank the witnesses for their testimony.

Mr. Moloney, in Colorado you said that in the first testing cycle, 12 percent of the students passed. When was that?


Dr. Moloney. Results were released November 1997. The test was given the previous May.


Mr. Miller. Your testimony is interesting, as all of your testimony on the panel, but I think you have to go back out in the hall and get your story straight because I don't get it. The people you are talking about who need flexibility control 93 percent of the money, but somehow they couldn't get these kids over the hurdles in reading or mathematics. Forty percent of the 4th-graders can't read at grade level, 40 percent of the 8th-graders can't do math, and something like 40 percent of the 12th-graders can't do science at basic minimal levels. And but for seven percent of the money, everything would be fine.

It just can't be true. It is not true in the business world, it is not true in the nonprofit world or our families, and it is not true in education. You keep saying it is only seven percent of the money, but apparently it is 100 percent of the problem. It can't be true because it is not true in states all over the country.

I don't know where Colorado, apparently when they discovered finally, how long did it take you to discover that only 12 percent of the kids could read in Pueblo, Colorado? What was going on the previous year? Did it happen in one year? Was it known for a decade? Did you put new resources into a troubled school? Apparently not.

But when you decided you would, apparently it was the federal government's fault because they were missing in action. And yet we see other states and school districts who were able to turn around reading programs with the federal government's involvement and participation through a whole range of programs.

Most school districts, if you ask them how they spend their Title I money, they couldn't tell you because they spend it any way they want. There are no federal mandates here. Your problem is the state. The state won't let you do what you want to do, but it is seven percent federal money which is apparently 100 percent of your problem.

I don't get it. It can't be the case, and you keep saying if the federal government would just hold us accountable. How about holding yourself accountable to the parents? How about holding yourself accountable to the 40 percent who can't read and the 88 percent? You needed the federal government to tell you that 88 percent of your kids can't read at grade level, that someone had to hold you accountable? That is criminal negligence.

So somehow you come here throwing yourself on the mercy of this committee, saying, if we just had flexibility. Colorado has Ed-Flex, and the gap between African-Americans and whites is widening in the last NAEP exam, as it is in Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota. But somehow if only we will tell you to be flexible, but when we had the Ed-Flex bill here, people were fighting on being accountable. They were fighting disaggregation of data so you would be accountable for every one of those kids in Pueblo. The averages in Colorado were doing fine, but apparently the kids in Pueblo, Colorado, got left behind.

I find it a little bit troublesome here that Gray Davis' fights are with the state legislature, your fights are with the State of Kansas, and anybody will tell you in California they have more trouble with the State Department of Education than they do with the federal government.

So, you know, when we see that apparently for years and years the superintendents of schools at the state, the local level and others have been willing to accept this low passage rate, willing to accept in California 30,000 uncertified teachers, 10,000 in New York City, and tens of thousands across the country, spending 5 and 6 hours with kids and they don't have the qualifications for the subject, if only now we hold you accountable and we give you the money, put it out there on a stump and let you pick it up, you will do a better job. Why don't you do a better job now? Seven percent of the money? I don't think so. I don't think that it holds up.


Dr. Moloney. I would have to agree with much of what you say, Congressman. The existing situation is pretty disgraceful, and any of us who have been in responsible positions when it got that way, have a lot to answer for. Seven percent of education funding, yes, Washington is pretty irrelevant. However, I would say this: We are closing the gap between minorities and the majority.


Mr. Miller. Not according to the NAEP exam you are not.


Dr. Moloney. I serve on the governing board of the national assessment, and I know what those numbers say.


Mr. Miller. It must be in the wrong column.


Dr. Moloney. No, the latest figures are quite clear on that. And I would also respectfully say while your remarks are a wonderful critique of the proposals that surfaced yesterday, the teachers in Bessemer Elementary would vehemently disagree with what you have had to say.


Mr. Miller. I just…


Chairman Goodling. Mr. Miller's time has expired.


Mr. Miller. You give these people this flexibility. They apparently accepted these outcomes and have continued to accept them and have fought rules on accountability. We just went through Ed-Flex, and the one critique that we have of the program is 9 out of 12 or 13, there is no measurable accountability. They just wanted the money.


Chairman Goodling. Mr. Miller's time has expired.


Mr. Miller. It is not being accountable to the federal government, it is about being accountable to the parents and to the kids.


Chairman Goodling. Mr. Miller's time has expired. Normally the questioning is part of that five minutes, but since you got a lecture without him interrupting…


Mr. Miller. Mr. Chairman, I am free to use my time as I would like.


Chairman Goodling. That is fine. I am giving them some time to rebut, which is not normal, but you didn't get any chance to respond.


Mr. Miller. Parliamentary inquiry, Mr. Chairman. So are the rules of the committee if a Member of Congress makes a statement, but doesn't ask a question, that the panel will always be given time to rebut, or is this just an exception in this case?


Chairman Goodling. Mr. Petri yields his 5 minutes to anyone that would like to respond to anything that Mr. Miller said. That is not the normal procedure. Normally you don't get that kind of lecture, you get a question. But nevertheless, everybody is free to do what they want to do.


Mr. Tierney. Point of order, Mr. Chairman. Is a Member not entitled to use his time as he sees fit?


Mr. Miller. Oh, bang it again if it will make you feel better.


Chairman Goodling. I'll bang it, and it will be on your head.


Mr. Miller. Oh, Mr. Goodling, don't get so excited.


Chairman Goodling. If you continue, I will have to ask the sergeant of arms to come and remove you. I have been very, very patient.


Mr. Miller. You don't have to characterize my statements. Members of Congress make statements, and Members of Congress talk to the panel all of the time. Sometimes you choose to ask questions, and sometimes you don't, and you know that.


Chairman Goodling. If anyone wants to offer any response.


Mr. Miller. Mr. Chairman, you are way out of order.


Mr. Kildee. Parliamentary inquiry, Mr. Chairman


Mr. Schundler. I appreciate the gentleman who has allowed…


Mr. Martinez. Mr. Chairman, parliamentary inquiry.


Mr. Kildee. Mr. Chairman, parliamentary inquiry. I have a right to ask my inquiry.


Mr. Miller. You can't obey the rules of the House.


Mr. Kildee. Mr. Chairman, a parliamentary inquiry.


Chairman Goodling. Mr. Kildee, would you give your parliamentary inquiry?


Mr. Kildee. Thank you.

Mr. Chairman, I have been on this committee for 23 years. We have always managed to get along well. We have always had bipartisanship. I would like to ask you under what rule would you have the Sergeant at Arms remove a member of this committee? Under what rule can you do that Mr. Chairman?


Chairman Goodling. Simply if you cannot continue and the person doesn't respect the five minute rule. Someone has to continue the hearing or it comes to an end.


Mr. Miller. Mr. Chairman, if I might.


Chairman Goodling. Mr. Miller.


Mr. Miller. The question is about your characterization of how I use my five minutes when you know as a long-standing member of this committee as long as I have been here that a Member of Congress can use his time or her time to give a statement, to lecture the panel if that is their choice, to ask questions, right?


Chairman Goodling. And you did that.


Mr. Miller. Right. And to suggest and somehow characterize that as unique or different, Mr. Chairman, was out of line.


Chairman Goodling. What I am indicating is that Mr. Petri has yielded his time…


Mr. Miller. They are welcome to Mr. Petri's time.


Chairman Goodling. …to answer any questions that you believe Mr. Miller raised.


Mr. Schundler. I would like to thank Mr. Petri for an opportunity to respond.

I don't think that anyone here believes that the only problem that we have in public education today is a function of federal dollars that are not being spent well. But I think all of us believe that there should be some accountability to taxpayers to make sure that whatever federal dollars are spent are spent well. Therefore, I think there should be a focus on results.

When you spend our tax dollars, you do it because you do care about the education of children. I think you do want to see that children do learn to read, that children do learn to do math. I think you should hold us accountable for those results. To say, here is this money, spend it this way, we don't care if children actually learn to read is a waste of taxpayer expenditure, and that is unfortunately what does happen at the state level as well. There are many dollars misspent at the state level in that very same pursuit.

I want to commend the members of this committee who are looking at trying to do it right, at focusing on results instead of just process, at respecting educators and giving them financing and freedom subject to accountability. I think you are taking a very, very strong step in the right direction. That is exactly what should be happening at the state level.

It is because we are not always convinced that it will happen at the state level that those of us at the city level would like the opportunity to do the right thing with your blessing in the event that the state may choose not to take advantage of this option.

I would finally answer that there was a comment made about the fact that along with being accountable to taxpayers, we should hold ourselves accountable to parents. I want to thank the representative for endorsing the idea of school choice for dollars that follow parents' decision making, for instead of us having to beg politicians, those of us who are parents, to reform our schools, we would be able to send our child to the best school for them and have the schools have to reform themselves than ask us for the privilege of educating our children.


Chairman Goodling. Anybody else have any answer?


Ms. Marshall. I appreciate Mr. Miller's emphasis on the direct accountability of parents as well, and that is something that we are trying to emphasize in this proposal. Right now the flow of the paper trail would indicate that Washington needs to know more. We would like to change that flow of information and make the public school data readily available to the parents and local taxpayers.


Mr. Tanner. I am not unfamiliar with the passion that frequently involves itself with issues of this sort. The federal legislature, no more than the state legislatures, and certainly no more than the apparatus that governs in terms of administration must bear responsibility for some of the failures that were raised up by the Congressman. But we must look to the future and use our very best judgment to put aside those issues that separate us and move forward to try to resolve them. Thank you, sir.


Dr. Finn. Just to observe that the issue is not whether states and communities have been doing a good job, I think we are all in agreement that the record is not very bright. The question is whether the federal piece is helping or hurting the states and communities that would like to do a better job.

There is all sorts of evidence that enforcing the federal piece, while it only accounts for seven percent of the money, is occupying about 50 percent of the enforcement time and the bureaucratic time and is beginning to get in the way of states and communities that are trying to solve the problems that Mr. Miller correctly diagnosed. And I think the federal piece is the issue we are dealing with here today, and I think respectfully it is making matters worse.


Chairman Goodling. Mr. Kildee.


Mr. Kildee. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, I was chairman of the subcommittee in 1994 when we established the first Ed-Flex, so I am certainly no stranger to Ed-Flex, and you and I worked very closely together on that. You made great contributions to that bill in 1994. We originally had six Ed-Flex states, then we expanded to 12 Ed-Flex states, and then this year with my support and Governor Castle and Mr. Roemer, we extended Ed-Flex authority to all 50 states.

Now the majority wants to enormously expand Ed-Flex we want to expand it to basically one block grant. I really think this is too much, too fast. I would like to see how the 50 states deal with the Ed-Flex authority that is available to them in the bill signed by the President a few weeks ago. Before we move so rapidly on this we should learn from our existing experience first.

Back in 1981, President Reagan and Dave Stockman attempted to block grant many education programs. Chester, you were around then.


Dr. Finn. Pretty soon thereafter I was.


Mr. Kildee. I knew you before those times. It was then that we established the old chapter 2 program, which was a block grant. If you follow what happened in chapter 2, the money kept going down. And why it went down is very simple. This is an experience we have had before with other block grants, and that is why I have great concern about this Super Ed-Flex. Chapter 2's appropriation went down because the programs that we threw into that block grant, lost their identity, and they lost their advocacy. And that is the reality in Congress. When programs lose their advocacy, they lose their dollars. You can track what happened Chapter 2: The money went down.

I fear that can happen here too if we have one super block grant. I think we should to be very concerned about this. I think advocacy for these programs is very important, and I am not saying this in a vacuum, because we have the Chapter 2 experience. If you read any of the books by Jack Jennings, he traces how throwing things into a block grant, tends to diminish funding, which and I think is a great concern.

We are about seven percent of the education budget, and that includes IDEA and other federal programs. I really feel we would put ourselves in danger of losing the advocacy and identity and then losing the dollars for the program.

So I think that those of us who have gone through what I call the winter of discontent, the first two years when David Stockman was really writing the budget, have seen this happen.

Chester, you have been around a long time, could you give us some assurances why you think that this proposal would not lead to reduced funding?


Dr. Finn. Thank you, sir. It is a very interesting and very perceptive history lesson.

I call this a block grant with a hook. The hook is that the state or district that participated would have to produce better results, or it would lose its flexibility. I think this is going to cause the states and the districts to want to keep getting this money. I think there is going to become a constituency, an advocacy group, for this money if they begin to get it in this form.

I would also like to contrast your history lesson with Congressman Miller's education policy lesson. Congressman Miller characterized us as saying in effect we can't trust ourselves at the state and local level, so make us do it right; that is the state and local people saying to the federal government.

You are suggesting that Members of Congress are saying, gee, we can't trust ourselves to keep funding block grants. We can only trust ourselves to fund education if there are a lot of different categorical programs each with a label.

Congress could continue to appropriate education aid even if it were called a block grant. The Straight A's program is not a traditional block grant, but that should not get in the way of the appropriations process.


Mr. Kildee. I think this committee would do well. However, yesterday we had a vote on the space station, which is just one example of the many competing demands for federal dollars. That is why I do have concerns about losing the identity of a program because this leade to a loss of advocacy and the loss of dollars due to competing demands. But I appreciate your response, Chester.


Chairman Goodling. Mr. Hoekstra.


Mr. Hoekstra. I will yield the Chairman 15 seconds.


Chairman Goodling. In that history lesson, most of the reform that took place took place because of Chapter 2 and because of Title VI dollars. They were reduced because, of course, the President zeroes it out every time it comes up, and so I just wanted to make sure that we concluded that history lesson.

Mr. Hoekstra.


Mr. Hoekstra. I thank the Chairman for yielding.

We have been involved in a process called Education at a Crossroads where we have gone to 15 different states, and that project extending into 1999 is why we went and visited Chicago for a second time and met with Paul Vallas and had Bill Bennett testify. Once again Mr. Vallas came out and said that the federal government ought to take kind of the same approach that the State of Illinois took with Chicago, a school system that was failing that Mr. Bennett had characterized as the worst school system in the country, and the solution was fairly straightforward. I think Mr. Vallas identified it as now getting two checks. The state de-mandated us. We get a check for general education, and we get a check for special education, and the state now holds us accountable. Why can't the federal government do something similar to that?

The current programs that we have in place number in the hundreds. The federal government wants to build our schools. We want to put in technology, we want to hire their teachers, we want to teach them about art and sex. They want to test our kids, feed them lunch and an after-school snack, do midnight basketball. Other than that, it is your local school district.

The testimony that we got consistently around the country is, yes, it is only seven percent of the money, it is 50 percent of the paperwork. Again, the federal government is having a significant impact at the state and local level in mandating. Then you contrast, and I think this is where the four and five of you are coming from, it is the same thing that we saw at Education at the Crossroads. There are tremendous things happening at the local level, whether in New York City, Chicago, or Cleveland. We have been to all of those places. It is happening in spite of federal rules and regulations, in spite of federal dollars rather than because of them.

In almost every place we went, people at the local level were saying "We love your money, but, boy, we could sure use it more effectively if you got rid of the red tape because our needs just don't quite happen to fit the needs of the program that you designed in Washington." And when that happens, what do we do? We don't provide more flexibility, we provide one more program. I think some of you have provided us with information.

We have a cottage industry now here in the Washington suburbs of people who have taken a look at the federal government and now send books out to school districts saying, here is how you mine for federal dollars; not how you educate, but how you fill out the forms correctly.

Actually, Mr. Miller, we found that lecturing is a very appropriate behavior, and I am just going to listen to the Chairman's gavel when it comes down, and then we will be okay.

Dr. Moloney, have you taken a look at what increased dollars might be able to flow to the classroom if we kept the funding level the same, but we removed a lot of the administrative burden and the red tape?


Dr. Moloney. I think at the heart of this we all have an interest in finding out what works. We also have an interest in why school behaviors in the United States are so different from other industrial nations, and that casts a lot of light on this question, and I spent five years doing precisely that.

Resources properly applied are very helpful, but the primary determinants of success are outside of that. I visited inner-city schools in Marseilles and Hamburg, more minority population, more language deficit, bigger class size, facilities falling down, no technology, and yet without question, and you can find Asian examples as well, despite a much greater social pathology, they are delivering a better educational product. And the answer is found in what Ronald Edmonds told us long ago in the effective school movement.

Here is a gentleman, who is probably one of the greater school reformers, but who has been forgotten. Incidentally, an African-American, but I think he gave us the greatest lesson. He told us exactly what four characteristics worked. He had his 15 minutes of fame, and then we moved on.

Everywhere we have seen success, past and present, foreign and domestic, Colorado, any other state, we see tightness of focus and high intensity. We find committed people who have chosen to do specific things. The more you spread and sprawl the variable mix, as Dr. Finn says, the worse it gets. It is quite clear what works. What isn't clear is if we have the will to do it.


Mr. Hoekstra. I would like to thank Dr. Moloney for answering the next question I was going to ask. Thank you.


Chairman Goodling. Mr. Tierney.


Mr. Tierney. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. At the risk of not asking the question directly, but making some statements here, I want to associate myself with the remarks that Mr. Miller made. I think that is a point well taken by everyone.

When I see that we are not talking about seven percent of the Straight A's concept, we are taking out IDEA, you are talking about an even smaller portion of money. To think that money is going to drive the kind of improvement that people are talking about belies the fact that it is the states who have the responsibility for that, and we saw that with the IDEA program. Everyone wanted to talk about it being a federal mandate and how the federal government was coming in. In fact, the states have a 100 percent obligation to educate children with problems or special needs, and the federal government provided an option and then gave 10 or 12 or 11 percent of the money for that. You would think that we had done a bad thing.

But I am interested, Dr. Finn, in what you say about accountability, and I know that we spend a lot of time banging around here on Ed-Flex as if it is a major concept, when it is an itty-bitty piece of the ESEA, but missing was any accountability, the kind that you talk about in your proposal, and I would like you to talk a little bit, if you would, about what they are doing in Texas and that kind of accountability and the disaggregation and how important that would be if your Straight A's were to be implemented.


Dr. Finn. Thank you, sir.

First let me say even if it were only 3 or 4 percent of the money, the question is whether it is made usable by the states and districts that want to do something different. Not every state would take advantage of this.

But the question is whether states that want to try should be given a chance. If they try, then the accountability provisions of Straight A's would kick in. And the accountability of Straight A's says in effect that the state has to set ahead of time what academic achievement gains it is undertaking, it is promising to produce over five years, and how it will measure and demonstrate them.


Mr. Tierney. It gets to choose the bar and how high the bar is set?


Dr. Finn. It sets its own bar. The Secretary of Education audits its ability to clear its bar.


Mr. Tierney. If they set it low, they get the money forever?


Dr. Finn. Even a low bar would represent gain over present. It has to show gain for all of the kids. That is where I agree with a number of members of the committee about disaggregated data, and I like the Texas approach of showing how kids are doing by ethnic group, by school, by a variety of other measures.

I think it would be perfectly reasonable for the Congress to be very particular in how it spells out the way in which the results will be demonstrated under Straight A's.


Mr. Tierney. But you understand that is the problem that we have here. Even those of us who wanted to talk about flexibility conditioned upon accountability didn't get very far. What we got was flexibility with no accountability.


Dr. Finn. Congressman, we are giving you another opportunity to strike that balance.


Mr. Tierney. We can count, and nothing has changed since the last time that we dealt with that.

Most of us understand that the reason that the federal government got involved in the first place was that some states wouldn't or couldn't when it came to certain categories. I see all of these Republican Governors telling us how bad the federal government is and the red tape and how awful this is, but then they created the need for aid because they wouldn't or couldn't, and now they are running surpluses. And I don't see any of them taking the surpluses and putting it into their educational needs and then saying, you know what, we found a way to deal without the federal money, so go away. They don't do that in IDEA or any other program. So it is very interesting how they like to hold their hand out and get the money, but they don't want to put their state monies into it, and they don't want to be held accountable at the same time. It goes around and around.

Let me ask the mayor a question Oh, he is gone.


Dr. Finn. I am afraid that the mayor had a plane to catch.


Mr. Tierney. He talked about allowing cities to opt into Straight A's even if the state didn't. Would we allow a city to opt out if a state did decide to go into it?


Dr. Finn. I will give you my opinion. You may want to ask the state representative here. I believe that a city should be able to opt in if the state does not. And if the state opts in, it should apply to the whole state.


Mr. Tierney. Let me ask you, if some of you don't believe that the Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration Program provides a lot of assistance, if we put the proper accountability in, would allow schools to be a charter school and put a lot of these reforms in, and at some point if they then have the states sort of integrate the reforms into their own system, they could do away with the federal assistance later on. Has anyone thought of that?


Mr. Tanner. We have had some experience with that. We made a commitment that the gathering of our superintendents, which represented 85 percent of the children in the state, that we would eliminate every single state regulation that was not directly linked to student achievement. This is, I think, very similar conceptually to what we are talking about here. We have set a high bar for accountability. We have in effect said if you do not have measurable gains on new criterion reference tests, improve your scores 25 percent within three years, we will remove your accreditation.

This is the proper role of the state. The proper role of a nation is to say what standards are: All children will spell "cat"; to oversee an assessment which can tell whether or not kids can spell "cat"; and, thirdly, to preside over consequences. Other than that, we should have no involvement in imports, management, anything like that; results and results only with heavy consequences when something doesn't happen. But as you know very well, we run scared about consequences. We love rigor, but we want everyone to get the money.


Chairman Goodling. Mr. Deal.


Mr. Deal. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank the panel members for being here today and for your participation in this discussion.

Representative Tanner, in looking over one of the attachments, your NCSL attachments, with regard to some of these issues, one of the comments that I see here is this statement, federally funded state education administrators, an average of 40 percent of each state education agency, work for the state but are paid for by the federal government. I think all of us have heard the complaints, especially at the local educational level, that our education system is too full of administrators, and too much of our money is being funneled into the so-called bureaucracy both at the federal and at the state level.

This statement in this publication seems to highlight the fact that the federal dollars are in effect making it worse in that regard at the state level. Would you please comment on that, or any of the other members that would like to join in?


Mr. Tanner. We do find that the federal dollars do tend to exacerbate a problem of accountability within the bureaucracy. There is probably an attitude on the part of the bureaucrats that they are not reliant upon the state or the educational agency that they work for their salaries, and even though they have an authority figure somewhere up the line, I doubt that they really respond in the same way to being on what amounts to a federal payroll as they would if they were on a state payroll. But I think in the preface to your question you said it very well.


Mr. Deal. Any other comments?


Ms. Marshall. Regarding Governor Davis' fights being primarily with his state bureaucracy, with that percentage on average being employed by the federal government, it can still trace back to federal involvement in state education. I don't put the whole of the problem there, but certainly we have to trace some back to that.


Dr. Moloney. I think at the heart of this, and having worked in six states and in varying circumstances, state education agencies are really two creatures in one. There is the federal state education agency, and there is the state education agency. The conflicts of money and personnel, very often the federal people who are more numerous than the state people usually because of the funding, they are more beholden to Washington than they are to the state capital. They tend to serve longer. Their circumstances tend to be much more rigid by a wide margin than the people at the state level.

It is a very strange culture. It is counterproductive. Those of us who were school chiefs wrestle mightily with this, and I can't point to a single school chief who would say, yes, I have licked that one. We haven't.


Mr. Deal. Does this legislation assist in dismantling that, or do we need to consider further efforts to dismantle that hierarchy?


Mr. Tanner. As you continue to explore this bill, you need to keep that in the forefront of your thinking as you go.


Mr. Deal. Well, we in my State of Georgia, up until fairly recent constitutional revisions had elected school officials, and the old saying was that whenever a state county school superintendent was not reelected by the voters in his area, he could always find a job by going to work for the state department of education, and it became the repository for many of those, and many of those positions were these federally-funded slots. That does not facilitate the streamlining and delivery of dollars to the classroom, which is another issue that this committee has worked mightily on.

I do appreciate all of you being here today. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Chairman Goodling. Mr. Kind.


Mr. Kind. I want to thank the witnesses for your testimony today. These always engender a lively discussion. You never know what to expect, and I am sorry that I missed the fireworks earlier. I think my questions will be a little more mellow and sedate because I was supportive of the Ed-Flex legislation. I was involved in that process. I believe in the twin goals of flexibility and accountability. I thought it was a good step.

In light of the recently passed legislation, even though we have had a pilot project with it for the past five years, we are opening it up to give all states an opportunity to participate. Also in light of the fact that comprehensive school reform became a part of our budget last year, known as the Obey-Porter grant money for research-based programs, what is wrong with playing ESEA straight this time and allowing these other measures to play out so we can get some feedback on them first and see how they are developing rather than jumping into a Super Ed-Flex proposal right away? Does anyone want to…


Dr. Finn. Congressman, with respect to the earlier fireworks, the witnesses had very little to do with them.


Mr. Kind. I understand.


Dr. Finn. With respect to your question, I think we have 34 years and seven cycles of ESEA to look at here. We have a lot of history here. And each time up until now the ultimate conclusion of the Congress has been very much like what you just said. It has been very much along the lines of let's play it straight and keep going the way that we have been going.

Thirty-four years later, six cycles later, that hasn't worked. The proposal before you is to allow some states the freedom to try it different. I suggested in my testimony that we take kind of an experimental view of the ESEA reauthorization and allow several different approaches to be tried of which Straight A's might be one. The administration's altogether different approach might be another. The Progressive Policy Institute's approach might be another. Let's let some states have the ability to try different approaches. The straight-on approach has not worked.


Ms. Marshall. I would agree with that characterization. We should try additional ways of going about reform. And because it is an optional program, not all of the states will participate, but those who try will show us if it works or not.

And it is fundamentally different from the comprehensive school reform and the Ed-Flex program. Ed-Flex offers some waivers, some flexibility. Comprehensive school reform is a limited program in that it is federally identified programs that you must choose from. So this allows a lot more freedom and flexibility for the state in exchange for accountability.

One thing that Comprehensive School Reform got right was that we have to have consolidated concentration by the states and by the schools on a coherent reform package, and that is what Straight A's would allow the states to do.


Dr. Moloney. Freedom is very scary, but we must indulge it, because no man who has not freedom can ever be accountable for everything.

The kind of marketplace approach that Dr. Finn is stating has risks. There will be failures, but the monumental truth before us is the failure of 34 years and six cycles. The jury is in. It has been in for a long time. We can't just keep on keeping on. We have got to change this thing.


Mr. Kind. I am a firm believer in accountability, and we have accountability in the works under Title I, and we are supposed to be seeing some standards and assessments coming from the States and localities. How would the accountability in Super Ed-Flex differ with what is in the works?


Ms. Marshall. It is building on the foundation which has been laid.


Mr. Kind. How?


Ms. Marshall. It would require a state to measure its student's progress either by a state-level test or a norm reference national test. Obviously most states would be choosing those that have been developed over the last five years.


Mr. Kind. Doctor?


Dr. Moloney. Having worked at the federal, state and local level, I think that the dilemma you have is the accountability that is represented to you that people say to you, vote for this and you will have that; unfortunately, the life gets squeezed out of it as it moves down to the state and local level. By the time it gets to the school building, if you went out there and looked at the thing you voted for, you wouldn't recognize it. And that is just the nature of institutional bureaucratic behavior. We have met the enemy, and the enemy is us.


Chairman Goodling. The vote on the floor is on the rule. We will resume at 11:15 a.m..



Chairman Goodling. Ms. Woolsey.


Ms. Woolsey. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to thank the panel. You are probably aware that there has been another school shooting in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, this morning.

I would like to ask first Dr. Moloney and then the rest of you to talk about how this program, how Straight A's, would impact changing the violence that we are seeing among our youth. And I know there are lots of solutions that it is just not school-related, but because you are here talking about school programs, Dr. Moloney, start with how you think that Columbine may have had a different result had this bill been in effect?


Dr. Moloney. Well, let me start this way, and obviously this has been absorbing us over the last month.

One of the most difficult things we are facing is that school and that district desperately needs help, and one of the first places that they turned to was us. By their nature, the federal cupboard was bare. We don't have the flexibility to say, my God, this is such an extraordinary thing, I am going to take some money from here. Can't do that.


Ms. Woolsey. What would you have done about it before the Columbine tragedy, and how would it have prevented it?


Dr. Moloney. In all honesty I could not suggest that this program or any other would have prevented that. The causes of Columbine are much deeper than that.


Ms. Woolsey. The education piece of it. I know that it is deeper.


Dr. Moloney. The education piece is that over many years we have for good intentions deconstructed the American high school. The reality of high schools today is so different from what they were before, is so different from what high schools are in other industrial nations. It is no accident that consistently the worst achievement results we get at the national assessment, on which board I am on, are at the high school level.

The elementary schools, pretty decent run for your money. Every book written about reform, Sizer, Boyer, talk about high schools. We took them apart, and now we are suddenly surprised to see that there are consequences to the dramatic retreat of adult authority.


Ms. Woolsey. So Straight A's would not have any impact on the violence that you are seeing in schools.

I would like the rest of the panel to respond how you think the education element of these tragedies may have impacted if we had Straight A's implemented.


Mr. Tanner. Congresswoman, I very honestly cannot see, just as my colleague here at the table apparently cannot see, that Straight A's would have made any impact at all on the Columbine problem.


Ms. Woolsey. Kids in general, they are furious. How are we going to fix that?


Mr. Tanner. One of the difficulties that we are having today with education, not only in K-12, but also even at the college level with regard to such things as my characterization of the curriculum these days at the grade-school level and college level is that it is in serious decline, has been in serious decline. We spoke of accountability earlier this morning. We have seen a diminution of accountability on the part of the authorities in schools vis-a-vis the kids, vis-a-vis their families.


Ms. Woolsey. So would Straight A's make that difference in accountability, and would that have impacted?


Mr. Tanner. I think it might have an impact, but I can't assure you or the members of this panel of any quick results. I wish I could.


Ms. Woolsey. I am not asking for quick. Would this be part of the solution?


Mr. Tanner. I suppose I would cop out on any final answer on that one.


Ms. Marshall. I think I would associate it with a piece of Columbine and the epidemic of violence.

The essence of Straight A's is to empower those closer to the student to solve his or her needs. It is a step. I think it could contribute to more concentration by school authorities on the needs, and if they are needs of violent students, those could also be concentrated on.


Ms. Woolsey. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Chairman Goodling. Perhaps a better use of safe schools and drug-free money would have helped in all of those situations.


Mr. Andrews, I believe you are next.


Mr. Andrews. Thank you, very much. I thank the panel. I think this is a worthy concept, but it needs to be looked at in the level of specificity, and I have a couple of questions.

One of the programs that at least The Heritage Foundation recommends be included in Super Ed-Flex is for migrant children. There is a reason that there is a federal categorical program for migrant children. It is because their parents don't vote. They have the lowest level of political power of any subset of society. Their ability to influence the state legislature or a school board is virtually nil because they may live in two or three different places during a school year.

What protective mechanism exists in Super Ed-Flex that would prevent a state or local school district from undermining the attempts to educate migrant children?

Let me give you an example. One of the things that this program successfully does is to pay people to do a more intense assessment of children, because a child who started the school year in one district and then moved to a different district in November and then a different district in March and a different district in May has got to be very intensely evaluated to figure out where the child stands.

What in Super Ed-Flex is there to stop a state from saying, we don't want to do that; we are going to get rid of the people who are doing the assessments here, and we are going to buy more books for the library or have more after-school homework programs? What protections does that migrant child have under Super Ed-Flex, any of you?


Dr. Moloney. We have a very large migrant education program in Colorado, and I would say that this is what would happen.

Under this bill, flexibility is given to the states. The key is accountability at the state level in implementing that.

We know that the needs of migrant children are in many respects very different than other children. However, we know that in one important respect they are exactly like every other child. We want them to be able to read. We want them to be able to succeed academically. We would define that accountability, and I think that is the best thing that you could do.


Mr. Andrews. You would give kids a test and see if they could read. How would you track a child who started in September in one district and wound up in May in another? How would you conduct that test?


Dr. Moloney. We passed a literacy act in 1996, and this is just an example. It requires that every child who is not reading on grade level by third grade as indicated by the new state assessments, that child must have an individual literacy plan as long as that child remains in school, whether it is 10 years, 2, until they are on grade level. You have to do this on a child-by-child basis. You can't do it by district or school because these youngsters move around. So wherever that migrant child goes, as long as they are in the State of Colorado, at least, that accountability goes with them.


Mr. Andrews. Well, I am from New Jersey, and we have a smaller migrant population, but we don't have such a plan. Our state education commissioner and legislature have chosen not to do that, and what protects the migrant children who spend 2 or 3 months in New Jersey is this federal law? What do I tell the migrant child in Vineland, New Jersey, who doesn't have that protection under Super Ed-Flex? Should her parents register to vote, stop working in migrant labor situations?


Mr. Tanner. Congressman, all of the above.


Mr. Andrews. What if they are not a citizen? This isn't Kansas, as they say in the Wizard of Oz.


Mr. Tanner. If I could return to the first part of your question, we have a large number of immigrants in the State of Kansas, not migrants so much as immigrants who have come to be employed there in industry.

There is implicit in your question an approach that makes me very uncomfortable, and that is I think there is an assumption on your part that there must be some safeguard built into the law to require the states to do what the states essentially are commanded to do in our own constituent acts, and that is to educate the children.


Mr. Andrews. With all due respects, state legislatures respond, as they should, to voters. The parents of migrant children are not voters. These are not immigrants, they are migrants who live in several different places during the course of the year. What protection is there under this concept for them?


Mr. Tanner. The protection of the state.


Mr. Andrews. The protection of the state existed before this bill, but the children were not getting the education that they deserved and needed.


Mr. Tanner. In Kansas we have developed a state assessment system which relies on reporting not only from school districts, but from individual buildings within school districts. When we look at disaggregated data in terms of performance, we look at where those people are, where all of them are. We don't like to see a downgrading of the results of the assessments because we have done a poor job somewhere. Now, it happens, but we like to be focused on providing an equal opportunity for all of the kids.


Mr. Andrews. I do appreciate that. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Chairman Goodling. I think one of the pluses probably of this legislation is that it requires a disaggregation of all of the subgroup data on all of the subgroups, and the state cannot participate unless they can as a matter of fact show that all those subgroups are improving, otherwise they are eliminated from participation.


Mr. Schaffer.


Mr. Schaffer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Dr. Moloney, I want to welcome you to Washington again, and I apologize that I was not here to hear your testimony, but I read it.

It says here unfortunately there are many more schools that are not moving ahead. Many are going backwards. Under current we are handicapped as regards to doing what we need to do. Under Straight A's, we would have the means to reach out and reward and replicate success, and I would like to just ask you to in general terms tell us what kinds of things might be accomplished in the State of Colorado with the liberty and freedom envisioned under Straight A's?


Dr. Moloney. First, the nature of the problem, as many speakers have said, is we are undergoing a dramatic change in the approach to reform in Colorado and many other states, and that dramatic change is encompassed in the Straight A's program. And the change is this: Historically all of our efforts to assist schools have turned upon measuring inputs. Now, it isn't just the federal government that does that. As you know, we have a new accreditation system in Colorado. Previously accreditation, whether it was middle states, northwest, new england or whatever, they measure inputs. It is a checklist. Do you have a library. Do you have a science lab. Do you have a paved parking lot. The notion was, understandably, that if there was a check on every box, that somehow all would be well.

The revolution we are seeking to make here is first to recognize that many, many years of the checklist approach didn't get us where we wanted, and so that instead we are going to measure one thing and one thing only, and that is results for the individual child, whether that child is a migrant, whether that child is in the inner city or whatever; a total focus on results and, if you will, and this is a little hyperbolic, an indifference to means.

If we can move a child to where a child needs to be, we shouldn't care whether the teacher is certified. We shouldn't care if there is a book in the library if the Internet does it better. What we should care about are the results for the child. But historically be it state education departments, federal education departments, regional accrediting agencies, the accent has always been on the methodology, on accounting rather than accountability. What we are seeking to do is assume a profile that is commonplace in other industrial nations.

If you look at what is done by education authorities, France, Singapore, Germany, England, anywhere, it turns on results and indifference to the methodology. That is why foreigners never know what we are talking about by choice. They just assume that should not be a state interest, and it is a given. So results are everything, and inputs are nothing. If we pull that off it, is a revolution, but it is the only path to go. We have tried the other.


Mr. Schaffer. There is a conflict in vision between the White House and those in Congress who have, at least at this point, constructed a philosophy of the Straight A's proposal. I would like to comment on the proposal that came out of the White House to balance the Republican efforts in Congress on Straight A's.


Dr. Moloney. Just charitably, when I came to this city 34 years ago, I came as a partisan, a legionnaire, the new frontier. It was exciting. Now I just want what works. Our highest responsibility is to find things that work for the child.

And yes, human nature being what it is, when we get up in the morning and decide what to do today, we are very often influenced by what we did yesterday. And unfortunately what you referenced and six cycles of this bill have effectively been that. Let's have another one just like the other one. Often when people would tell you privately, we know that this isn't working, but fooling around with it is just too much aggravation, let's let it go another cycle, maybe something will turn up, well, nothing has turned up.


Mr. Schaffer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Chairman Goodling. Mr. Martinez.


Mr. Martinez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will try to avoid raising your ire by shutting up when the red light goes on. What I have heard this morning is just plain educational gobbledygook. You are ignoring the history.

Federal programs were initiated because local school districts were not taking care of problems, and the federal government sought to make sure that those problems were taken care of. Take IDEA for example. IDEA was created because the courts decided there were disabled children in this country that were not being educated because it was too expensive.

Well, the same thing will happen again if you give this super block grant. You say it is not a block grant, and in the next sentence you say it is a block grant. It is a block grant, a super block grant, but the other side has found a way to ride a horse and ride it to death.

They got the idea that the President likes Ed-Flex, so he should like Super Ed-Flex. They got the idea that Mr. Kildee and Mr. Miller like accountability and disaggregated information, and so they said, we use that as a hook. Now accountability is the hook to get people on this side to vote for this giant super block grant.

And now since, Mr. Andrews said, it needs some refinement, they will move in that direction. The fact remains that the problems and issues that this money was sent to take care of will be ignored as they were in the past. That school district, and understand this, in the County of L.A. there are 80 school districts, some are exemplary and some are bad. We have developed an attitude that all public schools are bad. I ask this room how many of you are products of public school? Raise your hands if you are the product of a public school.

Look at that. Most of us here. If the public schools are so bad, how did we get to this great station in life that requires great intellect if the public schools are so bad?

Furthermore, we haven't been failing for 34 years, as Dr. Moloney says, because the Department of Education and the federal role in leadership in providing incentives for schools to do the right thing has only been in existence for 20 years. If somebody has been failing for 34 years, it is the local school districts, and I have seen some of the local school districts. In my district alone there are a good number of school districts, some good and some bad. But I find that when they are bad, it is because there is a bad board of education, people elected for the sake of having a title and not because they have an understanding of what it is they need to do to motivate their superintendent or to hire the right superintendent to provide motivation for their principals and teachers. However, I have been to other districts where the superintendent has been exemplary and has come up with all kinds of innovative programs.

And as far as that is concerned, we talk about restrictions by the federal government. If you look at the regulations from the federal level on the programs that we ask the locals to carry out, it is about this thick. Then you look at the states. In the State of California it stands this high. And if you ask a teacher, where do the greatest restrictions come from, the federal level or the state level, they will admit it is the state regulations, not the federal regulations.

You know, we want accountability for the monies we spend. That is what we require of the states and districts to ensure that they are used to correct problems that exist. Title I, provides funding specifically for the education of disadvantaged students. Now you are going to give states Ed-Flex and take away the 25 percent so that Title I funds can be used for all schools and students, disadvantaged or not. Let me tell you, if you allow that money to be used at any school, it diffuses the amount of money going to disadvantaged students and diffuses the purpose of the program because the purpose was to close the gap between the disadvantaged and the advantaged students because it was determined that there was a gap and that those disadvantaged students needed to be brought up to speed with their counterparts at school. If you diffuse that money, you diffuse the purpose. More than that, you have actually betrayed a trust. You have appropriated money on the number of poverty children in a school, and now you are using it for children that are not impoverished. So what are you doing?

To me that is the fallacy of what we are trying to promote here in the Super Ed-Flex. Super Ed-Flex is a giant block grant, and we might end up seeing this money going for other things. It might be go for a new gym or some other thing that has nothing to do with the education of disadvantaged children.

I yield back the balance of my time.


Chairman Goodling. Here is one that doesn't believe all public schools are bad. In fact, here is one that doesn't believe that any public school is completely bad. But here is one who believes that in the 21st century, we have to do much better.

But I also believe, as I have said many times, you can't help an alcoholic unless the alcoholic admits they have a problem. And I know that you have heard it before, and you will hear it again. Our greatest problem over the years has been to ignore the reports and indicators. Even though all the reports indicate that we have problems in our schools and in the system and we have to do better, Congress says, "Oh, no, I am sure a little more money will probably fix everything," and on we go. And who loses? The children, of course.

Mr. Tancredo.


Mr. Tancredo. I apologize that I was not here so that I could both introduce and welcome Dr. Moloney, who I have found to be incredibly supportive and a breath of fresh air in the entire educational establishment in Colorado.

He exemplified that today in his candor, which, of course, is what is so nettlesome to some people. They are not used to hearing people in your position, Dr. Moloney, be so candid about the problems that exist and that have existed, and that becomes nettlesome because you begin to destroy a world view that they have established and pressed for all of these years. So you can understand why there was the kind of response that we had earlier, and I am sure that you do, and I apologize that people were unable to control themselves in the face of your candor.

Let me continue and say that some of the most recent comments by my colleagues especially regarding the problems that they have identified and believe exist in allowing school districts to operate in a flexible manner. For instance, Title I. I think the quote was that what we have done is allow schools to waive the requirement that if 25 percent of the student body was identified as poor, the money had to go to them. The money could not be used as a schoolwide activity unless there was a higher threshold. Yet empirically we now know that regardless of what might have been some sort of intuitive thought we had about the need to focus on that concept, we do know through the five years of pilot programs that have gone on, at least in Colorado. If I remember correctly, when I asked for examples of what we had done under the pilot program, such as what every single school district that applied for a waiver in Colorado did to escape that particular provision. The one that said they could not have a schoolwide program with Title I if they didn't have X percentage number of kids in the program. In every case they were able to show that they did better by being able to use the dollars in a schoolwide program.

Now, we have empirical evidence, that what we thought to be the case was inaccurate, yet because we have built a system based upon our ideas about what is right and what is wrong, regardless of what happens in the real world, we get very concerned about the possibility that we may be proven wrong on other parts of our defense of the system which has superseded in many cases our desire to see the best happen for the children in the system.

So it is intriguing to me that we have had this debate now revolving around not just Ed-Flex, but Super Ed-Flex, about the accountability, a word that was never mentioned for the 20 plus years that I have been involved in this by that same group of people. They have avoided it, because the NEA and the people who support them are petrified of true accountability.

For all of these years we have been trying to push it. Now we have something in place, school standards that are supposed to actually provide that kind of accountability, and all I am asking from you, from anyone on the panel, but especially you, Dr. Moloney. If you have faith in the standards we have already implemented, not just in Colorado, and, Chester you go around the country and review what every state has done, and I do have some concerns that I have expressed in the past, but do you have faith that those standards are strong enough to withstand the kind of arguments that we know are going to get as we progress along the lines of greater accountability and flexibility?


Dr. Moloney. Let me go to that. Parenthetically, I would note that Congressman Martinez is right, state regulations are often worse than federal regulations.

Quickly, to answer that, a Pennsylvania story. Some years ago, myself, superintendent in the city of Easton, and superintendent in the city of Bethlehem and my colleague Tom Delusio, we went to the state school chief. He said, "what do you want?" We said, "we want you to trust us as much as you trust people in private schools. Give us the freedom."

Now in the city of Denver right now, 71 percent of our minority parents want to go to private schools. They even want to go to schools that aren't of the same religion. Jack Jennings, who used to work here, will say this is the millstone that is dragging down public education. It is freedom, and it is accountability. We can debate standards. We don't have world-class standards, not even close, but they are the best standards we ever had simply because we never had any standards. So freedom and accountability. If there is a final thought, give us that. We can do that. Public education can restore itself to the glories of its past.


Mr. Tancredo. Can he finish answering the question, Mr. Chairman?


Chairman Goodling. Dr. Finn.


Dr. Finn. Congressman, state standards are not all satisfactory, but as the commissioner just said, they are the only standards we have got. We are not going to have national standards for these subjects, and it is also the case that even the heavily regulated top down model of ESEA, such as the administration unveiled yesterday, also ends up depending on state standards in terms of what the children are supposed to end up learning. The question is what will cause those state standards to be attained. In the administration's view, it is regulation from Washington. In the Straight A's view, it is freedom for the state combined with accountability for results.

The state standards are the only standards we have got in this country except in schools that are freed up such as charter schools to set their own. And I think state standards need a lot of work in most states. Colorado's are sort of upper middle in my ratings, but they are not perfect. But this is the place to lodge responsibility and authority.


Mr. Tancredo. Thank you.


Chairman Goodling. Mr. Payne.


Mr. Payne. Thank you very much. I have certainly been listening with interest to the question regarding this time that it takes to keep up with the paperwork of the federal Government.

One of you testified that 50 percent of the administrative time is taken up by the seven percent that the federal government gives, which is kind of astonishing. Evidently the states, and I hear contradictory things where the states are asking for a lot of information, so I can't understand how 50 percent of the bureaucracy is in relation to the seven percent that the federal government provides.

But be that as it may, my colleague left, and he was talking about being petrified by the NEA and how we are captives on this side by the NEA. I would rather be captives of the NEA rather than captives of the NRA, who feel that we should not have any kind of provisions for teenagers being able to buy guns at gun shows, and so I think he has got his letters a little bit wrong. I wanted to yield and let him respond to that, but he isn't here.

The other question that I have is the fact my other colleague Mr. Hoekstra, who is gone, talked about the federal government trying to do all of these things and hire teachers. This is the first time that I heard that the federal government wanted to hire our teachers, and he said to build our schools. I wanted to ask him about where the federal government was asking to hire the teachers. I heard President Clinton say that every kid in grades 1 to 3 should have a class size under 18, so I assume that Mr. Hoekstra opposes that. I suppose that the schools in his district are under 18 students per class. In my school district and when I taught in public schools, I had 45 kids, and we still have those numbers in Newark and other urban areas. And so I just would liked to have asked him, and I would have yielded my time to ask what is wrong with trying to have 18 kids in a classroom in grades 1-3?

Also for the federal government to build schools, the average age of the school is about 100 years old, and I am looking forward to the federal government, I spoke at a school the other day that was built in 1853, and I thought I would speak about slavery because it was going on at that time. I don't understand this opposition to the federal government supporting helping crumbling schools where the 100- and 150-year-old schools cannot handle the wiring for the high tech.

The other question that I do have, and I do have a question, although I am also lecturing, and I am afraid of the gavel, so I am going to ask the question, Dr. Finn, you seem to be the father or the grandfather, maybe the father…


Mr. Finn. Can I just be a cousin?


Mr. Payne. …cousin will do of this Super Ed-Flex, and it says here that states would have to deal with student achievement, and they would have in place a system of awards and penalties based on achievement or lack of it, performance.

Once again, when we are talking about seven percent of the budget, if indeed a school district fails, the seven percent that comes from the federal government I guess there will be a penalty, and penalty being perhaps it may be taken away because 93 percent may have something to do with the seven percent not working. So I wonder, could you explain the penalty phase and how that works with the federal government in this rewards and penalties question?


Dr. Finn. Yes, sir. Others may have a different take on it.

On the rewards side, my suggestion would be that the successful state both get its Straight A's arrangement renewed so that it continues to enjoy freedom, and that it receive some kind of a bonus payment for its success.

On the penalty side, I would suggest that the failing state be cast back onto the categorical programs and lose its freedom which it has not used well. We can debate whether categorical programs work well, but it would lose its freedom, and I believe that some bit of its federal money should be docked, maybe only its administrative expenses. Maybe it should have to put up a 10 percent matching payment. I believe there ought to be some fiscal sanction for failure. It should be cast back into the regulatory briar patch of the categorical programs.


Chairman Goodling. Mr. Roemer.


Mr. Roemer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I have heard Ed-Flex mentioned a number of times today, and I co-authored that piece of legislation with my good friend and the distinguished former Governor from Delaware Mr. Castle.

At the White House the other day when the President signed the bill, we had two Democrats and two Republicans at the signing ceremony, and we talked a great deal about the twin components of flexibility and accountability. That bill made it through the United States Congress, and all 50 Governors supported it very strongly. I am proud to have worked on that legislation.

One of the hurdles that we ran into as that legislation wound it way through both of these bodies was that we had a 12 state pilot program and that we pointed to two or three states that had done an exemplary job or a very good job and really were very good role models for the rest of the states. We have now expanded it to all 50 states, and we are hopeful that the other 47 states can follow some of the models that we have mentioned here today in the past, with Texas and Maryland and a few other states.

Dr. Finn, you and I have had many discussions, we exchange ideas and agree and disagree, but why should we move so quickly, having just passed Ed-Flex, to doing this for all 50 states with even more flexibility when we have just accomplished this and we are worried. You have just said that state standards need a lot of work.


Dr. Finn. Well, congratulations on extending the Ed-Flex program to all states. I think this is a progress, and I am glad the others are going to have an opportunity to try it. They will not all do well with it.

If the alternative were a proven, slam-dunk, national federal categorical program that we know works, we might be a lot more cautious about freeing up states to try different approaches. The alternative instead is 34 years of a failed top down national federal program that has spent upwards of a hundred billion dollars and has not achieved its results.

The opportunity before you is to allow some states, and I don't believe that a large number of them would take advantage of it. The Congress may want to put a limit on how many are allowed to take advantage of it and treat this as a more explicit pilot program, although that would not be my preference.

The opportunity is to allow states that are willing to try something different with their main federal aid in ways that the current Ed-Flex program doesn't allow, such as moving money from one activity to another, would be given that chance, rigorously evaluated, held to a level of results that the existing Ed-Flex program doesn't do, and made to demonstrate their results to see whether this works better than the alternative before us which was unveiled yesterday at the White House, and which I think might work, but I would sure be reluctant to impose that on 50 states, too.


Mr. Roemer. I am always willing to try bold and creative ideas, and sometimes I am applauded for them, and sometimes I am criticized for them.

One of the concerns that I have about moving so fast on this proposal is that I hear all of this talk from our panelists to provide all of this freedom and flexibility, and I haven't heard a whole lot of talk, although I might agree that a lot of things need to change when a 34-year-old program has not accomplished some things, I have not heard enough talk about finances.

The Title I program was directed for targeting to the poorest of the poor children in this country, and of these 4-1/2 million of these children that don't get any of this money. We have children in Philadelphia and Houston that have 62 percent poverty and are eligible for free lunch programs that don't get any of this money. So maybe they are failing, but it is not because they are getting Title I funds.

Now, are you willing, as you quote Paul Vallas in your statement, at a hearing the other day, he said, we need flexibility, but we need finances. We need help. If we are going to stop social promotion, we need help with after-school programs and more quality teachers. We need help in summer school programs to teach these kids to read. Where is the other "F" for the freedom and finances here?


Dr. Finn. Congressman, I assume that federal spending on education is going to continue to increase, and the question is whether it is going to increase in the existing programs or in a different way. I have no objection to it increasing. I would like it to increase in such a way that it produces results rather than just expenditure.


Mr. Roemer. So are you for an increase in the federal funds?


Dr. Finn. I would favor an increase in aid to disadvantaged children provided that those running the programs at the state and local level are give the ability to run the programs in ways that they think will work.


Mr. Roemer. Such as Ed-Flex?


Dr. Finn. That is a good example. If we are talking about the largest ESEA reauthorization without respect to Straight A's or Super Ed-Flex, then we can talk about other ways of adjusting the existing formulas or ESEA programs or requirements or budgets, and I would be happy to. That might be a matter of a different discussion.


Mr. Roemer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Chairman Goodling. I want to thank all of you for being here today. It has been a long morning. I appreciate your staying during the votes that we had to cast.

In the Straight A's program, of course, the categorical programs stay on the books. The same lobbyists continue to lobby for those same categorical programs. Nothing changes along that line. Again, thank you very much for coming to testify today.

[Whereupon, at 12 noon, the committee was adjourned.]