Clinton Initiative Targets Social Promotion Policies

Article excerpt

President Bill Clinton wants to give school districts a financial incentive to end the practice of social promotion.

Social promotion involves allowing primary and secondary school children to advance a grade level even if they lack the academic skills to warrant moving forward.

Clinton called for an end to the policy of social promotion and offered schools a powerful incentive -- $600 million in new grants for after-school academic programs. The president made the offer as part of an expansion of 21st Century Learning Centers, a relatively new federal program that tries to meet the needs of working parents while providing children with a safe haven after school.

From a modest $1 million beginning, the program grew to $40 million in funding last year and jumped to $200 million in fiscal year 1999. In his recent announcement, Clinton said he would request $600 million for the program in the government's fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

"Don't say the kids are failing. Give them after-school programs. Give them summer school programs. Give them the tools they need to succeed," Clinton says.

Under the president's plan, schools that agree to eliminate social promotion would receive priority under the 21st Century program. Districts may use these after-school funds to support academic enrichment, recreational outlets, technology education, and even career exploration activities. …