The topic of the federal government’s involvement in schools was widely debated last week, giving a preview of the discussions that will likely occur this year as Congress renews the main federal K-12 education law. Three Republican governors urged Congress to reconsider federal involvement in schools by granting states more power to fulfill their explicit constitutional duty. "Allow us more flexibility so that federal programs and funding complement and integrate with our state reforms," said Gov. Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey during a Senate hearing on February 23.
In a separate development, a influential senator proposed a significant increase in federal education spending, but suggested that the funds should be given directly to states in the form of block grants. A conservative research group also released a report criticizing current federal policies and proposing alternative solutions.
These calls for change come as Congress prepares to renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which is the main education policy of the federal government. As the debate progresses, observers believe that a key issue will be how, if at all, the federal government’s involvement in K-12 schooling should be reshaped.
During the National Governors’ Association’s winter meeting, governors visited Congress and the White House to advocate for freedom from federal regulations at a time when President Clinton is proposing to tie federal funding to school performance mandates. In a speech to the governors on February 22, President Clinton outlined his vision for the federal role in education. He argued that the federal government should provide more flexibility while demanding greater accountability. He stated, "We should not allow schools to fail year after year."
At the Senate hearing, Michigan Governor John Engler urged senators to provide block grants to states instead of setting specific priorities for how grant dollars should be spent. He said, "I urge you to allow policies to be set and money to be spent at the state level." However, Engler also suggested a "Super Ed Flex" plan as an alternative, which would give states broad flexibility in applying regulations in exchange for guaranteeing results.
In a surprising twist, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici proposed a 40 percent increase in federal education spending over five years. Although details of the plan were not provided, the additional funds would be given to states in the form of direct block grants.
The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation also entered the debate by releasing a report called "New Directions: Federal Education Policy in the 21st Century." The report includes contributions from scholars, journalists, and state and local officials, with the aim of generating fresh ideas about the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the federal role in education. According to the foundation’s president, Chester E. Finn Jr., the current programs under the ESEA are outdated, ineffective, and in many ways harmful.
In the report, Diane Ravitch, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the Manhattan Institute, suggests a direct way to reform Title I, the largest program within the ESEA. She proposes converting the $8 billion program into a "portable entitlement" that would allow funding to follow a student to the school or tutor of their choice. Title I currently provides aid to schools with high concentrations of students from low-income households.
Your assignment is to rephrase the entire text using improved vocabulary and natural language while ensuring uniqueness. The resulting text should be in English. Here is the initial text for you to revise:
"Rewriting the text with enhanced language and ensuring originality in English is your given task."