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Sends Back Federal Check for $1.4 Million
MONTGOMERY, AL -- Alabama Governor Fob James sent a letter to Education Secretary Richard Riley on September 28 telling the Federal Government that Alabama will be returning $1.4 million already received for the state's Goals 2000 program. Another $6 million in federal funding designated for this program will be rejected.
Alabama applied for the goals money last November under former Governor Jim Folsom. Conservative groups have been asking James to return the money, while liberal groups were upset that he had not agreed to use it.
James's letter cited "a new and unprecedented level of potential federal intrusion into state and local responsibility for and control over public education." The decision came following a meeting between Assistant Secretary of Education Michael Cohen and Alabama officials, including James's Finance Director Jimmy Baker and several state Board of Education members.
Dick Brewbaker, James's education liaison, said he was in favor of Goals 2000 until the Cohen meeting. He said the program would have the power to certify Alabama's state standards, including its curriculum content and student assessment. In response to Brewbaker's concerns that the Goals 2000 Educate America Act contains a lot of "shalls" and "musts," Cohen responded, "Trust me. We're not going to make you do this stuff."
Alabama joins a growing group of states skeptical about Goals 2000. States that have already rejected Goals 2000 funding include Montana and New Hampshire. Virginia has delayed a decision.
Governor James said his administration decided to take this course of action "given the magnitude of the issues presented and the genuine concerns created by this potentially sweeping new federal involvement in education."
He said the act which created Goals 2000, the Educate America Act, "sets up a national school board and vests control over standards and educational objectives in the federal bureaucracy."
The Governor said the long list of requirements a state must follow in order to take part in the program, along with approval from the national Department of Education in order to make changes in a state's education improvement efforts, makes the federal program undesirable.