Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Rebuild America Coalition Addresses School Infrastructure Needs: Spectrum Sale Advocated to Pay for School Plan

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Rebuild America Coalition Addresses School Infrastructure Needs: Spectrum Sale Advocated to Pay for School Plan

Article excerpt

The Rebuild America Coalition convened in the nation's capital last week to begin the Coalition's examination of the physical condition of the public schools and the reauthorization of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA).

The meeting was chaired by Houston Mayor Robert Lanier and featured members of the Clinton cabinet and staff members from Capitol Hill as speakers.

Laura D'Andrea Tyson, economic Advisor to the President, spoke about the federal government's role in public schools. Tyson noted that this is an area in which the federal government has usually not played a role. However, the case for federal involvement stems from a General Accounting Office report which indicated about one-third of the nation's public schools need serious renovation.

The problem is complicated even further, as the country approaches a baby boomlet, an eleven percent increase between now and 2005, in the number of students in the public schools. The White House's proposal calls for a four year program of $5 billion that would subsidize interest on school construction. The program would be financed by selling broadcast spectrum.

Secretary of Transportation Federico Pena discussed the Department's involvement in ISTEA reauthorization.

From the ongoing regional hearings across the country, he said he has learned that most people do not want radical changes to ISTEA. He charged the Rebuild America Coalition to stress the importance of infrastructure to public education so the United States does not fall behind Europe and Japan. …

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