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 Article of Interest - NCLBA

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Congressman John Boehner's (Rep/Ohio) Weekly E-Bulletin

July 11, 2003

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Two Key Teacher Quality Measures Pass The U.S. House

House Continues Historic Support For Education Reforms


On Wednesday, the House approved two major pieces of legislation to help states and schools ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn from highly qualified teachers. The bills - the Ready to Teach Act (H.R. 2211) and the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Act (H.R 438) - were both approved by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in the House.

As you know, the No Child Left Behind Act, the landmark K-12 education reform package signed into law in January 2002, calls for a highly qualified teacher in every public school classroom by the 2005-2006 school year. Congress has provided historic resources to meet that goal, increasing funding for teacher quality grants by 35% in the first year of the law alone. The bills approved on Wednesday build on this significant financial commitment by instituting reforms and financial incentives that will go even further to helping states and schools meet the call to ensure that every child in America learns from a highly qualified teacher.

Specifically, the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Act more than triples the maximum amount of loan forgiveness - from $5,000 in current law to $17,500 - available to highly qualified teachers in math, science, and special education who commit to teaching in needy schools for five years. This bill provides a dramatic increase in the financial incentive to help teachers in subject areas facing the greatest shortages to teach in schools serving disadvantaged students which often face the greatest difficulty in recruiting and retaining high quality teachers. H.R. 438 also tracks President Bush's latest budget request to help states and schools place highly qualified math, science, and special education teachers in classrooms across the nation.

Make no mistake, the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Act is simple in its purpose and structure, but it is monumental in its potential to improve the lives of the nation's students. By giving highly qualified math, science, and special education teachers a real financial incentive to teach in schools serving disadvantaged students, we have an opportunity to ensure that no child in America is left behind.

In addition to the dramatic new loan forgiveness available for teachers, the House also approved legislation - the Ready to Teach Act - to strengthen teacher training programs to ensure that teachers are able to meet the highly qualified standard in No Child Left Behind. H.R. 2211 makes improvements to the teacher training programs funded under the Higher Education Act to provide the teachers of tomorrow with the skills they will need to be ready to teach when they enter the classroom.

Under current law, teacher training programs are suffering from a serious lack of accountability. If teacher training programs are not producing teachers able to meet the highly qualified standard, states and schools will find it extremely difficult to meet the call of the No Child Left Behind Act. For that reason, H.R. 2211 includes strengthened reporting measures that will ensure programs are held accountable for reporting accurate measures of their effectiveness. In addition, the bill strengthens the teacher training programs and aligns them with No Child Left Behind to provide prospective teachers with the skills and resources they will need to be successful in the classroom.

H.R. 2211 contains measures to improve the quality of teacher training programs and strengthen accountability procedures. The legislation places a strong focus on the effectiveness of teacher preparation, as well as a renewed emphasis on the skills needed to meet the highly qualified standard found in No Child Left Behind: the use of advanced technology in the classroom, rigorous academic content knowledge, scientifically based research, and challenging state student academic standards. In addition, systems would be developed to measure the effectiveness of programs, including a true measure of teacher effectiveness - the academic achievement of students themselves.

This bill takes the important step of recognizing that individuals seeking to enter the teaching profession often have varied backgrounds - and by creating flexible approaches that step outside the box, these individuals can become highly qualified teachers through training programs as unique as their individual experiences.

On behalf of my colleagues on the House Education Committee, I commend the House for approving both of these important bills, and I hope they soon will be sent to the President's desk.

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Yesterday, the House reaffirmed its commitment to the bold new standards set by the bipartisan No Child Left Behind education reform law that was signed by President Bush right here in the Eighth District more than a year ago. By passing a major Fiscal Year 2004 appropriations bill, the House approved an historic third major increase in federal education spending since President Bush signed No Child Left Behind.

No Child Left Behind was built upon two major ideas: greatly increasing the amount of funds injected into our nation's public schools and, in turn, holding those schools accountable for the use of those funds - and the education they are providing to our children. The appropriations measure approved yesterday demonstrates Congress' and the President's continued commitment to those ideas - and to the ultimate goal of ensuring that every child has an opportunity to receive a quality education.

Every penny promised under the No Child Left Behind Act is being delivered and then some. As a result of No Child Left Behind, the federal government is now spending far more money than at any other time in American history for education. That promise was made, and that promise is being kept.

What is crucial to remember is that No Child Left Behind is not about changing funding levels; it's about changing attitudes. The American people no longer believe money alone is the answer to the problems in our nation's schools; after all, if money was the answer, we'd have solved our education problems decades ago. Instead, the answer involves demanding results - and providing the tools to make those results achievable. We have done - and will continue to do - just that.

Among the highlights of the education spending bill approved by the House yesterday:

- Aid to needy and disadvantaged students is increased to $12.35 billion. The $666 million increase for the next fiscal year would be the third significant increase in Title I funding as a result of the No Child Left Behind Act. Last year, Title I funding was increased by $1.3 billion, which was on top of the $1.6 billion increase provided the year before. This increase means Title I spending will have increased more during the first three years of President George W. Bush's administration than it did during the previous seven years combined under President Clinton.

- Special Education grants are increased by $1 billion for the coming year, as requested by President Bush. The $9.9 billion funding level builds on two previous significant increases in funding under President Bush, totaling $2.5 billion.

- Reading First and Early Reading First grants to states are increased to $1.15 billion to ensure that children can read by the time they reach the third grade. Under No Child Left Behind, federal funding has more than tripled for reading programs based on proven reading instruction methods rooted in scientifically-based research.

- Federal funding to help states develop and implement state assessments is increased to $390 million. With this increase, states will have received over $1.16 billion to develop and implement state assessments in math and reading, as required by No Child Left Behind. It also means that in just three years, states have already received 72% of the total collective funding needed by Fiscal Year 2008 to develop and implement the basic tests, according to the non-partisan General Accounting Office.

- Head Start funding to help prepare disadvantaged young children to learn and succeed in school is boosted by $148 million. This increase will bring total Head Start funding to $6.8 billion, providing significant resources to ensure that we are closing the readiness gap between Head Start graduates and their more affluent peers.

- Pell Grants maintain their historically high maximum award of $4,050 to help disadvantaged students achieve the dream of a college education. In addition, overall funding is increased by $885 million, bringing total funding to $12.3 billion. This means that more families will be served, and more students will have a college education within reach.

The Senate soon will consider its own appropriations measure to fund federal education programs, and a House-Senate conference committee will negotiate a final package to send to the President for his signature.

Your comments are appreciated. Contact John Boehner's Hamilton District Office at 8200 Beckett Park Drive, Suite 202, Hamilton, OH 45011, 513-870-0300, or 1-800-582-1001.


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