Education Policy: Research: Historical Overview: Clinton:

Federal Education Policy and the States, 1945-2009

The Clinton Years: State Initiatives for Systemic Reform

States took full advantage of the funding that became available for broader uses, in contrast with the categorical funds that had traditionally come from the federal government. One of the largest recipients and most visible users of Goals 2000 funds was the state of Texas: between 1994 and 1997, Governor George W. Bush's state received over $100 million from the program, which in Texas was called Academics 2000 . (Many other states also used titles other than Goals 2000 to emphasize that theirs were state initiatives with federal support, rather than instances of a federal program that set their standards.) This funding supported the development of the state's standards and tests-Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), an aligned assessment program-as well as widespread professional development and education programs. In Texas and most states, the Goals 2000 funding allowed for development and implementation of systemic reform much sooner than would have been possible with the state's own tax revenues. When Governor Bush campaigned for president in 2000, the state's record in education testing and reform was one of his major issues.

The flexibility and innovation that the Goals 2000 program accorded to the states was necessary to assure that the federal government was not using the act to establish national standards. As a result, however, the act could not assure that state standards were of uniformly high quality. Clinton had proposed the creation of a National Education Standards and Assessment Council as part of Goals 2000. This council would have reviewed state standards and assessments to make sure that they were both comparable across states and sufficiently rigorous. Later renamed the National Education Standards and Improvement Council (NESIC) and slightly modified in the bill, this council would have had the potential of creating criteria to assess the quality of state standards and tests. However, conservatives resisted NESIC on the grounds that it would mandate too much federal control of state decisions, and liberals were concerned about the potential for promoting national tests. To enact the Goals 2000 legislation, Clinton accepted the elimination of NESIC.


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