Federal Education Policy and the States, 1945-2009
The Clinton Years: IASA - Compromises on Compliance
Using education as a major campaign issue, Clinton won his second term in 1996, beating Senator Robert Dole (who had supported most of Clinton's education proposals in the first term). He campaigned against Republican efforts to close the Department of Education and transfer money from public schools to individual vouchers. This election was the last time that the Republican Party would call for reduced public school funding. Republicans lost votes both with the business community that had supported the reforms and with the large numbers of voters. In his first State of the Union address after his re-election, Clinton proposed detailed educational plans-voluntary national tests in fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math, tutoring, after-school programs, and funding of 100,000 new teachers to shrink class size.
Following the election, conservatives fought against national testing, believing that it gave too much control to the federal government (though the first President Bush had proposed a similar measure just a few years earlier). Republicans were looking to take education as an election issue in 1998 and 2000, and while they supported budgets with more and more funding for education, they opposed many of the standards and testing provisions that provided accountability in return for more funding. The Department of Education, hesitant to battle states at the same time that pressure was building in Congress to dismantle IASA and Goals 2000, generally certified state submissions of compliance with IASA or gave states more time to comply. Due to the rejection of NESIC by Congress, there was no appropriate body to evaluate standards, so if states followed the proper process for meeting the requirements of IASA, they were certified. However, by 2000, only seventeen states were in full compliance with IASA, which had been enacted six years earlier.