March 12, 1999
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON, D.C. ---- FALEOMAVAEGA ANNOUNCES PASSAGE OF THE
"ED-FLEX" EDUCATION BILL
Congressman Faleomavaega announced that both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate yesterday passed legislation that would give states and territories greater flexibility to seek waivers of federal education requirements. The Educational Flexibility Partnership Act expands the current Education Flexibility Partnership Program by making all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, CNMI, the USVI and American Samoa eligible to participate.
The Congressman explained, "Under this bill, American Samoa would be allowed to waive certain federal regulatory requirements in education programs such as the $8 billion per year Title I program for disadvantaged children." Faleomavaega went on to say, "This would allow for more flexibility in the use of the money by the local government." The Ed-Flex program was created in 1994 as a demonstration program under the Goals 2000 legislation. Originally, only six states were allowed to particpate in the program. That number was increased to 12 when Congress passed the 1996 Omnibus Appropriations Act.
Faleomavaega continued, "Congress wanted to be sure that the bill had adequate provisions to hold local governments accountable for meeting program goals." The bill as passed ensures that a waiver from certain federal requirements is coupled with reform efforts to measure improved student performance. The Congressman pointed out, "For example, local officials must specifically describe in their applications how they will measure student progress. After three years, the U.S. Department of Education can remove American Samoa from the program if we fail to make measurable progress towards our student performance goals."
"Our local school officials are in the best position to know the needs of our children," the Congressman said. He concluded by saying, "This bill will allow American Samoa to better coordinate federal and local efforts to more effectively meet the educational needs of the children of American Samoa."
The House passed its bill (H.R. 800) by 330 to 90 votes. The Senate voted 98-1 for its own, similar, version (S. 280) of the legislation, killing a Democratic amendment which would have implemented much of President Clinton's education agenda, including a six-year, $11 billion authorization to hire 100,000 new teachers. The Senate then approved an amendment that would rewrite provisions of the fiscal 1999 omnibus federal spending law, appropriating $1.2 billion as a down payment for Clinton's plan to hire new teachers. Congressman Faleomavaega explained that the measure now goes to a House-Senate conference.