The Senate bill requires states to test students in grades 3-8 annually, using national guidelines. Problem schools would receive more money while they change their curricula and staff. If students still fail to improve, they would be allowed to switch to other public schools and, eventually, use tax dollars for private tutoring. After five years of failure, schools would be taken over by the state or by private companies.
A pilot program to provide vouchers to poor parents in 10 cities also failed in Congress. But the Senate approved an amendment by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) to penalize schools that discriminate against the Boy Scouts for its stance against homosexuality.
The House and Senate versions now must be reconciled before any reform becomes law.
"The education bill is anything but perfect," says Connie Mackey, director of federal relations for the Family Research Council. "It did not represent the President's initial [approach]."
But the FRC will continue fighting for vouchers. "Nothing's ever dead on the Hill," Mackey says. "You just repackage and try again."
Copyright © 2001 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
See more updates in Yahoo's full coverage areas on the Education Curriculum and Policy and School Choice and Tuition Vouchers.
More Christianity Today articles on school reforms are available in our education area. Previous articles on school vouchers include:
Reading, Writing, and Reform | Vouchers dropped, but testing, tax credits remain in Bush education plan. (June 10, 2001)
Vouching for Parents | Vouchers are not an attack on public schools but a vote of trust in families. (April 2, 2001)
Weblog: Appeals Court Says Vouchers Violate Church-State Separation (Dec. 13, 2000)
Religious Right Loses Power | A few victories, but more losses for conservatives. (Dec. 18, 2000)
School Choice Measures in Tight Races | Recent surveys show much opposition to voucher initiatives in California and Michigan. (Sept. 27, 2000)
Florida School Voucher Plan Struck Down by State Judge | Church-state issues not addressed in ruling. (March 24, 2000)
Judge Freezes Voucher Enrollments | (Oct. 4, 1999)
Editorial: Religious Schools Make the Grade | Give Wisconsin an 'A' for saying no to secularist nonsense. (Aug. 10, 1999)
Voucher Plan Draws Mixed Reviews (July 12, 1999)
Voucher Victory | School-choice advocates win in Wisconsin, but can the movement gain momentum? (Sept. 7, 1998)
Judge Stalls Voucher Expansion (March 3, 1997)
Voucher Opponents Vow to Gut Cleveland Program (Oct. 28, 1996)
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