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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 27, 1999

                            April 27, 1999

Today, in a Rose Garden ceremony, President Clinton will sign the Education Flexibility Partnership Act, legislation that extends to all states the ability 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 believes this legislation exemplifies the kind of bipartisan effort that will be necessary to move forward on important items on the nation's education agenda.

President Clinton Signs Ed-Flex Bill Supporting Local Education Reform Efforts. Today, President Clinton will sign into law the Education Flexibility Partnership Act of 1999 expanding the Ed-Flex demonstration program and enabling all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the territories to form Ed-Flex partnerships. As states and communities implement reforms to enable all children to meet challenging academic standards, they should have the ability to use federal resources in the ways that best complement local efforts and innovation. Under Ed-Flex, states can waive many of the requirements of federal education programs 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. President Clinton first called for expansion of the Ed-Flex pilot program in a speech last year to the National Governors' Association.

Flexibility Accompanied By Strong Accountability For Results. As Congress considered Ed-Flex legislation, the President repeatedly stated that the expanded flexibility conferred by the bill must be accompanied by strong accountability provisions. In particular, the President called for, and Congress eventually enacted, provisions to ensure that waivers are tracked to make sure they produce 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. It also requires states to measure the impact of their waivers on student performance and requires the Secretary to terminate a state's Ed-Flex status if he determines that education performance in the state has not been adequate.

President Clinton Calls on Congress to Move Forward On the Nation's Education Agenda. President Clinton will cite the Ed-Flex legislation as a good example of how bipartisanship can produce legislation to improve America's public schools. President Clinton will urge Congress to move forward in a similar bipartisan manner on more important aspects of the Nation's education agenda - most notably, finishing the job of hiring 100,000 well-prepared teachers to reduce class size; building and modernizing 6,000 public schools across the country; and re-authorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in a way that holds states and school districts accountable for results.