Summary: H.R.4169 — 105th Congress (1997-1998)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for H.R.4169. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in House (06/25/1998)


Title I: Educational Facilities Improvement

Title II: Reducing Class Size

Title III: Charter Schools

Title IV: Scholarships

Title V: Voluntary National Tests

Title VI: A+ Accounts for Public and Private Schools

Title VII: Dollars to the Classroom

Putting America's Children First Act of 1998 - Title I: Educational Facilities Improvement - Amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) title XII (School Facilities Infrastructure Improvement) to establish an educational facilities construction and renovation bond subsidy program.

(Sec. 101) Directs the Secretary of Education to use such bond subsidy program funds to pay up to 50 percent, according to a sliding scale based on need, of the interest costs applicable to any State or local bond for construction or renovation of educational facilities in local areas. Provides for: (1) mandatory direct grants to local bond authorities for up to 100 local areas with the highest numbers of school age children whose families do not exceed 100 percent of the poverty line (plus an optional 25 additional local areas with extraordinary construction or renovation needs); and (2) mandatory grants to States for State or local bond authority assistance for local areas according to a specified formula. Authorizes reservation of specified amounts for Indian schools, schools in U.S. territories, and certain studies, evaluations, and reports.

Sets forth requirements for authorized activities, waivers (in order to increase assistance), fair wages, and reports.

Authorizes appropriations for FY 1999.

Title II: Reducing Class Size - Establishes a program to help States and local educational agencies (LEAs) recruit, train, and hire 100,000 additional qualified teachers to: (1) reduce class sizes nationally, in grades one through three, to an average of 18 students per classroom; and (2) improve teaching in the early grades so that all students can learn to read independently and well by the end of the third grade.

(Sec. 203) Authorizes appropriations.

(Sec. 204) Entitles States with approved applications to allotments according to a specified formula. Reserves certain funds for evaluations, outlying areas, and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) schools.

(Sec. 205) Sets forth requirements for: (1) State applications and the Secretary's approval; (2) within-State allocations; (3) State level activities; (4) local uses of funds; matching funds; (5) carryover; (6) accountability; (7) participation of private school teachers; and (8) evaluation.

Title III: Charter Schools - Amends ESEA title X part C (Public Charter Schools) to authorize a State educational agency (SEA) to use funds for planning, designing, and initial implementation of public charter schools. Requires local educational agencies (LEAs) to use innovative assistance funds for the same purpose.

(Sec. 302) Extends the grant program period of eligibility. Allows basic grants or subgrants for planning, design, or initial implementation of charter schools to be awarded for a period of up to five years, which may be followed by an additional two-year extension period, notwithstanding that the State does not have a specific statute exempting charter schools from significant State or local rules that inhibit the flexible operation and management of public schools.

Sets forth certain priorities for awarding grants to SEAs. Bases such priorities on requirements of State laws regarding charter schools' budget autonomy, increased numbers, and periodic review and evaluation.

Includes among requirements for SEA applications a description of how the SEA will: (1) inform each charter school of available Federal programs and funds that each such school is eligible to receive; (2) ensure that each such school receives its commensurate share of Federal education funds allocated by formula; and (3) disseminate best or promising practices of charter schools to LEAs.

Requires SEA applications to include assurances that, and descriptions of how, LEAs will comply with the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act with respect to provision of special education and related services to children with disabilities in charter schools.

Includes among selection criteria for awarding grants to SEAs the number of charter schools created in the State.

Prohibits States that receive grants under this Act and designate a tribally controlled school as a charter school from considering payments to a school under the Tribally Controlled Schools Act of 1988 in determining the eligibility of the school to receive any other Federal, State, or local aid or the amount of such aid.

Eliminates authority for State revolving loan funds for charter schools.

Directs the Secretary to: (1) reserve a specified amount for national activities on behalf of such schools; and (2) (along with SEAs) ensure that each public charter school receives its full share of funding for LEAs for helping disadvantaged children meet high standards.

Sets forth requirements for student records transfer and for paperwork reduction.

Specifies that a public charter school: (1) must have a performance contract with the authorized public chartering agency in the State; and (2) is a school to which parents choose to send their children.

Extends through FY 2003 the authorization of appropriations for the public charter schools grant program.

Prohibits the use of funds under this Act to make contracts or subcontracts with persons who have fraudulently labelled products as "Made in America."

Title IV: Scholarships - Amends ESEA title VI (Innovative Education Program Strategies) to allow any State that has enacted or will enact a law establishing a voluntary public and private school parental choice scholarship program in compliance with specified ESEA requirements to reserve an additional 15 percent from its annual ESEA title VI allotment for use exclusively for such parental choice programs. Requires State educational agencies, except in the case of such programs, to distribute 90 percent (currently 85 percent) of title VI funds to local educational agencies based on criteria which gives priority to low-income families and areas.

(Sec. 403) Includes such parental choice programs among State and local uses of title VI funds.

Requires such parental choice programs to be located in an area that has the greatest numbers or percentages of children: (1) living in areas with a high concentration of low-income families; (2) from low-income families; or (3) living in sparsely populated areas. Requires such programs to ensure that program participation is limited to families whose family income does not exceed 185 percent of the poverty line.

Directs the Comptroller General to make contracts for annual evaluation of each parental choice program.

Provides that title VI funds to establish a parental choice program shall be considered assistance to the student and shall not be considered as assistance to any school that chooses to participate in such program.

Prohibits the Secretary from exercising any direction, supervision, or control over curricula, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any school that chooses to participate in a parental choice program.

Title V: Voluntary National Tests - Directs the Assistant Secretary for Educational Research and Improvement, before any funds are obligated for a fiscal year, to submit to the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate a spending plan for activities funded through the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) for such year.

(Sec. 502) Gives to the National Assessment Governing Board (established under the National Education Statistics Act of 1994) exclusive authority over all policies, direction, and guidelines for establishing and implementing voluntary national tests for fourth grade English reading and eighth grade mathematics.

(Sec. 503) Requires such tests to be made available, upon request, to a State, local educational agency, or private or parochial school.

Prohibits making the use of such tests a condition for receiving any Federal funds.

(Sec. 504) Directs the Board to review the current national test development contract, and modify it as necessary, or terminate it and negotiate a new contract under the Board's exclusive control.

Sets forth Board responsibilities with respect to development of, and content and standards for, such tests.

(Sec. 505) Prohibits a State or local educational agency from requiring any private or parochial school student, or home-schooled individual, to take any test developed under this Act without the student's or individual's written consent.

(Sec. 506) Amends the National Education Statistics Act of 1994 to: (1) revise requirements for appointment of Board members; and (2) provide that the Board, in its exercise of its functions, powers, and duties, shall be independent of the Secretary of Education and the other offices and officers of the Department of Education.

(Sec. 507) Directs the Secretary to appoint individuals to fill vacancies on the Board caused by expiration of member terms or creation of new membership positions under this Act.

Title VI: A+ Accounts for Public and Private Schools - A+ Accounts for Public and Private Schools Act - Amends the Internal Revenue Code to permit tax-free expenditures from education individual retirement accounts for elementary and secondary education expenses (including tuition, special needs services, home schooling expenses, and transportation expenses) required for attendance at a public, private, or religious school, or for homeschooling that meets State or local requirements.

(Sec. 602) Increases from $500 to $2,500, through December 31, 2002, the maximum annual contribution to such an account.

Title VII: Dollars to the Classroom - Dollars to the Classroom Act - Requires the Secretary to award directly to the States the total amount of all the funds (except those used for specified multiyear awards) that are appropriated for the Department of Education for the fiscal year for specified programs or activities under: (1) the Goals 2000: Educate America Act; (2) the Educational Research, Development, Disseminations, and Improvement Act of 1994; (3) the School-to-Work Opportunities Act of 1994; (4) the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA); and (5) the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act.

(Sec. 702) Sets deadlines for: (1) each State to conduct a census to determine, and report to the Secretary, the number of kindergarten through grade 12 students in the State for the academic year; and (2) the Secretary to publish and disburse the amount each State will receive under this Act for the succeeding fiscal year. Sets forth: (1) a formula for determination of such award amounts, based on relative numbers of such students in each State; and (2) penalties for false information. Provides for continuation of certain multiyear awards made before enactment of this Act.

Requires award amounts under this Act to be paid to the State Governor, who shall make them available to the individual or entity in the State responsible for the State administration of Federal education funds. Prescribes requirements for the use of such funds, earmarking not less than 95 percent for distribution to local educational agencies (LEAs) for the costs of activities or services provided in the classroom that LEAs determine appropriate, excluding associated administrative expenses, but including nonadministrative expenses associated with statewide or district wide initiatives directly affecting classroom learning.

Prohibits: (1) any Federal agency head except the Secretary from promulgating regulations under this title; and (2) the Secretary from issuing any regulations regarding the types of activities or services that may be assisted under this title.

(Sec. 703) Amends ESEA title I (Helping Disadvantaged Children Meet High Standards) to require that at least 95 percent of title I funds made available to an LEA be used for costs of activities and services provided in the classroom for the fiscal year.

Directs the Secretary to: (1) develop and implement a plan for streamlining regulations and eliminating bureaucracy so that 95 percent of such ESEA title I funds for LEAs are used for the costs of activities and services provided in the classroom; and (2) recommend to the Congress legislation containing changes to Federal law needed for such funds to be used in such manner.

(Sec. 704) Requires each LEA that receives funds under this Act to provide for the participation of children enrolled in private and home schools.