How the plans stack up

President Bush and congressional Democrats, led by Sens. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Evan Bayh of Indiana, proposed separate plans last week to reform education. Here's a comparison of key points:

Closing the achievement gap

The Bush Plan

Holds schools accountable for progress of low-income students.

Gives bonuses to schools and states that make significant progress toward closing the gap and sanctions schools that fail to narrow the gap.

Breaks down test results according to race, gender, income, English proficiency, and disability.

The Lieberman/BAYH Plan

Increases funding for poor students by more than 50 percent.

Requires statewide goals for closing achievement gaps (based on race, income, or English-language proficiency) and state sanctions on districts that fail to meet performance standards.

Rewards high-performing states for exceeding standards.

Teacher quality

The Bush Plan

Holds states accountable for ensuring that all students are taught by effective teachers.

Gives teachers up to $400 in tax deductions for out-of-pocket expenses.

Establishes partnerships between schools and universities to improve math and science instruction.

The Lieberman/BAYH Plan

By 2006, requires teachers to have state certification and a BA in the area of instruction, and to pass rigorous state-developed content tests.

Requires local education agencies to provide professional development for teachers, principals, and administrators.

Encourages training and mentoring partnerships among schools, universities, nonprofits, and businesses.

School Choice

The Bush Plan

Assists schools that fail to make adequate yearly progress. Gives students the option to attend a higher-performing public school if their schools fail to meet requirements for two consecutive years. After three years, students may use vouchers to attend a private school.

Requires school-by-school report cards for parents.

Provides funding for charter schools, promotion of school-choice plans, and tax deductions for K-12 education expenses.

The Lieberman/BAYH Plan

Gives funding for charter schools and public school-choice initiatives.

Requires annual report cards for parents with information about school districts and individual schools.


The Bush Plan

Requires state-developed annual academic assessments in reading and math for Grades 3-8. Requires annual testing of a sample of 4th- and 8th-graders using National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

Requires challenging content standards in history and science.

Grants states and districts freedom from some government requirements in exchange for a five-year proposal to improve performance.

The Lieberman/BAYH Plan

Links federal funding to five standards: overall academic achievement, closing gaps between high- and low-performing groups, helping students reach English-language proficiency, and improving teacher quality.

Allows three years for implementing accountability systems.

Penalizes a state that fails to meet its performance objectives in more than one standard after three years by cutting its funding in half.


The Bush Plan

Requires states to ensure that students with limited English achieve fluency within three years and to set standards in core subjects that are as rigorous as those in classes taught in English.

Boosts funding for character education and school safety, and ties some funding to states having a zero-tolerance stance toward violent students.

The Lieberman/BAYH Plan

Requires states to develop annual goals for English-language development.

Reduces red tape for rural education funding.

Adds $35 billion to federal investment in education over next five years.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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