Clinton Threatens to Veto Education Bills
PALO ALTO, California (AllPolitics, Sep. 20) -- President Bill Clinton warned Congress Saturday that he will veto any legislation that fails to fund his efforts to create voluntary national education testing standards.
Under an education proposal he sent to Congress, the president called for standardized reading tests for all fourth graders, and math tests for all eighth graders by March 1999 to measure skills and establish high standards.
Clinton, whose education-reform plan met sharp resistance in the House this week, made his comments during his weekly radio address.
"We have more to do in education to fully prepare our children to raise the opportunities of the new century," he said.
"If Congress sends me partisan legislation that denies our children high national standards or weakens our national commitment to stronger schools, I'll have to give it the failing grade it deserves, and I'll veto it."
Republicans take affront at Clinton's stand
On Tuesday, the House blocked Clinton's plan by an overwhelming 295-125 vote, backing a one-year ban on funding to develop the tests. The lopsided House vote makes it unlikely the testing proposal will proceed without major changes, if at all.
The Senate earlier approved the voluntary testing plan.
Republicans bridled Saturday at President Clinton's threat to veto education legislation.
"I am very surprised that the president would suggest a veto that could force a government shutdown," said Rep. Bill Goodling, the Pennsylvania Republican who chairs the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
Goodling said in a statement: "We strongly support high academic standards and better schools, but strongly oppose new education tests developed by Washington bureaucrats.
Concerns about federal control
Critics fear the plan would result in too much federal influence on locally controlled schools, although the tests would be developed in Washington by an independent, bipartisan board.
In criticizing Tuesday's House vote, Clinton emphasized that improving school standards is key to the nation's long-term success.
"In the 21st century, our children must have a world-class education," the president said. "We must strengthen our schools, raise our standards, insist that our students master the basics."
Clinton was to visit the San Carlos Charter Learning Center in San Carlos, California, later Saturday to promote the educational progress made by such schools, first established in Minnesota in 1991.
Charter schools are public schools run by teachers, parents or community leaders who have more freedom to set curriculum and procedures than traditional institutions. About 700 charter schools currently exist.
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