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April 29, 1999: Improving America's Schools

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"This new law provides opportunity, demands responsibility, and promises real gains in learning for all of our children."

President Bill Clinton
April 29, 1999

Today, at the White House, President Clinton signed legislation that expands to all states the opportunity to participate in the Ed-Flex program. Ed-Flex allows states to waive certain federal requirements if doing so will enhance school reform and improve student achievement. The President hailed this legislation as an example of the kind of bipartisan effort needed to move forward on the nations education agenda.

Supporting Local Education Reform Efforts. Today, President Clinton signed into law the Education Flexibility Partnership Act of 1999 (Ed-Flex) to give all states the ability to use federal resources in ways that best complement local efforts and innovation. Under Ed-Flex, states can waive many of the requirements of federal education programs in order to advance school improvement efforts. In exchange, participating states must:

  • have a comprehensive school improvement plan;
  • agree to waive comparable state requirements; and
  • hold districts and schools affected by the waivers accountable for results.

Pairing Flexibility with Accountability. As Congress considered Ed-Flex legislation, the President demanded that the expanded flexibility conferred by this bill be accompanied by strong accountability requirements. The President called for, and Congress eventually enacted, provisions to ensure that waivers are tracked to guarantee they are producing results -- and that waivers are revoked when they fail to do so. The new legislation:

  • authorizes the Secretary of Education to deny Ed-Flex status to states that have failed to develop challenging education standards and assessments for measuring student and district progress;
  • requires states to measure the impact of their waivers on student performance; and
  • requires the Secretary to terminate a states Ed-Flex status if he determines that demonstrated student improvement in the state has not been adequate.

Urging Congress to Work Together on Education. President Clinton cited Ed-Flex as an example of how bipartisanship can produce legislation to improve America's public schools. President Clinton called on Congress to move forward in a similar manner on other important aspects of the nation's education agenda, most notably:

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