Clinton Halts Fun for Standards Fight: Says Schools Should Be Kept Free of Politics
Strobel, Warren P., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass. - President Clinton took time out from his heavy schedule of golf, games and glitterati mixing yesterday to weigh in again on the gathering debate over national education standards.
In the face of GOP congressional skepticism, the president has made establishing standardized tests for fourth- and eight-graders a virtual obsession. His remarks yesterday were the second time in five days that he spoke out on the issue.
Mr. Clinton told teachers and administrators at Oak Bluffs School, about eight miles from the Martha's Vineyard estate where he is staying, "I know I'm on vacation, but when school starts, if I don't participate in some start-of-school event, I begin to have a nervous twitch."
Of the fight over national education standards, he said, "I expect this to be one of the major debating issues of the next few weeks when I go back home to go back to work."
The president's decision to switch back into work mode, if only for an hour or so, reflected White House concern that Mr. Clinton's drive for national education standards is in jeopardy.
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman William F. Goodling, Pennsylvania Republican, has proposed an amendment to an upcoming appropriations bill that would block Mr. Clinton's plan by denying the use of federal funds to develop and distribute the tests. A similar amendment in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Daniel R. Coats, Indiana Republican, could come up for consideration today.
In a letter sent to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, the White House said it "will strongly oppose" the amendments. Education Secretary Richard W. Riley has recommended that Mr. Clinton veto the spending bill if it bans funding for the tests.
As he did Saturday, Mr. Clinton yesterday criticized Mr. Goodling's measure without naming the lawmaker. And he repeated his latest compromise offer: to have a nonpartisan board appointed by Congress, rather than the Education Department, develop the tests.
"All we want the Department of Education to do is to have the funds to pay for it and to help the states or school districts who need it to give it," the president said. …