Federal Education Policy and the States, 1945-2009
The Clinton Years: Goals 2000 - Varied Impact
The reliance of Goals 2000 on state-by-state initiatives meant that its impact varied greatly from state to state, district to district, even school to school. Given that the vast majority of funding had to be spent at the district level, there was not a great deal of money available for building state capacity to help underresourced districts. Moreover, with a relatively small amount of funds spread among some 5,000 districts, there were major problems in creating a critical mass of support for preparing teachers to use new standards and develop instructional materials. An Urban Institute study on the use and effects of Goals 2000 grants found that small and/or high-poverty districts particularly struggled with the implementation of standards-based reform. Specifically, these districts had difficulty accessing the support that would have allowed them to design successful programs and strategies. While high-poverty districts were well aware of federal programs targeted at helping the poor, they did not have expertise in standards-based reform and therefore could not provide technical assistance to schools or connect to essential information on this topic. Small districts also struggled in the Goals 2000 environment: they too were not connected to sources of expertise and information-likely due to the small number of professionals not directly involved in teaching-and thus did not have access to resources that might have helped them.
Despite shortcomings at the local level, Goals 2000 provided the major source of funds to move forward with systemic reform efforts. State education agencies developed these reforms, which received support from governors who had participated in the 1989 education summit and from business leaders who were committed to those principles. Goals 2000 funding began at $94 million in 1994 and, with strong advocacy from business and education groups, climbed to $490 million by 1999. Overall, this act provided $2 billion to promote standards-based reform. Though some states initially declined the Goals 2000 funds on the grounds of preserving states' rights, forty-eight accepted grants under the Goals 2000 program within two years of its initiation. Within three years, more than one-third of the country's almost 15,000 school districts had received a Goals 2000 grant through their state.