Summary: S.1996 — 105th Congress (1997-1998)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for S.1996. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in Senate (04/28/1998)

REAL Life Educational Opportunity Act of 1998 - Amends title VI (Innovative Education Program Strategies) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) 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 title IV allotment for use exclusively for such parental choice programs. Requires State educational agencies (SEAs), except in the case of such programs, to distribute 90 percent (currently 85 percent) of title VI funds to local educational agencies (LEAs).

(Sec. 4) 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.

(Sec. 5) Allows LEAS that establish parental choice programs to apply for education flexibility waivers of certain statutory or regulatory requirements. Requires approval of such waivers by the Secretary of Education or the SEA, as applicable.

Prohibits the Secretary from waiving requirements for: (1) civil rights protections and discrimination prohibitions; (2) services provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; (3) fiscal accountability measures; (4) equitable participation of private school students and teachers; and (5) parental involvement in program activities and services.

(Sec. 6) Directs the Comptroller General to make contracts for annual evaluation of each parental choice program. Requires the Secretary of Education to reserve certain funds for such evaluations.

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.