| Home > 106th Congressional Bills > H.R. 2557 (ih) To direct the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a feasibility study on the inclusion in Biscayne National Park, Florida, of the archaeological site known as the Miami Circle. [Introduced in House] ...
H.R. 2557 (ih) To direct the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a feasibility study on the inclusion in Biscayne National Park, Florida, of the archaeological site known as the Miami Circle. [Introduced in House] ...
108th CONGRESS 1st Session H. R. 2556 To provide low-income parents residing in the District of Columbia, particularly parents of students who attend elementary or secondary schools identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring under title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, with expanded opportunities for enrolling their children in higher- performing schools in the District of Columbia, and for other purposes. _______________________________________________________________________ IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES June 23, 2003 Mr. Tom Davis of Virginia (for himself, Mr. Boehner, Mr. Weldon of Florida, Mr. Lipinski, Mr. Shays, Mr. Carter, Mr. Wilson of South Carolina, Mr. Ehlers, and Mr. DeMint) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Government Reform _______________________________________________________________________ A BILL To provide low-income parents residing in the District of Columbia, particularly parents of students who attend elementary or secondary schools identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring under title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, with expanded opportunities for enrolling their children in higher- performing schools in the District of Columbia, and for other purposes. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the ``DC Parental Choice Incentive Act of 2003''. SEC. 2. FINDINGS. The Congress finds the following: (1) Parents are best equipped to make decisions for their children, including the educational setting that will best serve the interests and educational needs of their child. (2) For many parents in the District of Columbia, public school choice provided for under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is inadequate due to capacity constraints within the public schools. Therefore, in keeping with the spirit of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, school choice options, in addition to those already available to parents in the District of Columbia (such as magnet and charter schools and open enrollment schools) should be made available to those parents. (3) In the most recent mathematics assessment on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), administered in 2000, a lower percentage of 4th-grade students in DC demonstrated proficiency than was the case for any State. Seventy-six percent of DC fourth-graders scored at the ``below basic'' level and of the 8th-grade students in the District of Columbia, only 6 percent of the students tested at the proficient or advanced levels, and 77 percent were below basic. In the most recent NAEP reading assessment, in 1998, only 10 percent of DC fourth-graders could read proficiently, while 72 percent were below basic. At the 8th-grade level, 12 percent were proficient or advanced and 56 percent were below basic. (4) A program enacted for the valid secular purpose of providing educational assistance to low-income children in a demonstrably failing public school system is constitutional under Zelman v. Simmons-Harris if it is neutral with respect to religion and provides assistance to a broad class of citizens who direct government aid to schools solely as a result of their independent private choices. SEC. 3. PURPOSE. The purpose of this Act is to provide low-income parents residing in the District of Columbia, particularly parents of students who attend elementary or secondary schools identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring under section 1116 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 6316), with expanded opportunities for enrolling their children in higher- performing schools in the District of Columbia. SEC. 4. GENERAL AUTHORITY. (a) Authority.--From funds appropriated to carry out this Act, the Secretary shall award grants on a competitive basis to eligible entities with approved applications under section 5 to carry out activities to provide eligible students with expanded school choice opportunities. The Secretary may award a single grant or multiple grants, depending on the quality of applications submitted and the priorities of this Act. (b) Duration of Grants.--The Secretary may make grants under this section for a period of not more than 5 years. SEC. 5. APPLICATIONS. (a) In General.--In order to receive a grant under this Act, an eligible entity shall submit an application to the Secretary at such time, in such manner, and accompanied by such information as the Secretary may require. (b) Contents.--The Secretary may not approve the request of an eligible entity for a grant under this Act unless the entity's application includes-- (1) a detailed description of-- (A) how the entity will address the priorities described in section 6; (B) how the entity will select eligible students to participate in the program, including how it will ensure that if more eligible students participating in the program seek admission in a participating school than the school can accommodate, eligible students are selected for admission through a random selection process; (C) how the entity will notify parents of eligible students of the expanded choice opportunities; (D) the activities that the entity will carry out to provide parents of eligible students with expanded choice opportunities through the awarding of scholarships under section 7(a); (E) how the entity will determine the amount that will be provided to parents for the tuition, fees, and transportation expenses, if any; (F) how the entity will seek out private elementary and secondary schools in the District of Columbia to participate in the program, and will ensure that participating schools will meet the applicable requirements of this Act and provide the information needed for the entity to meet the reporting requirements of this Act; and (G) how the entity will ensure that participating schools are financially responsible; and (2) an assurance that the entity will comply with all requests regarding any evaluation carried out under section 9. SEC. 6. PRIORITIES. In awarding grants under this Act, the Secretary shall give priority to applications from eligible entities who will most effectively-- (1) give priority to eligible students who attend an elementary or secondary school identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring under section 1116 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 6316); (2) target resources to students and families that lack the financial resources to take advantage of available educational options; (3) provide students and families with the widest range of educational options; and (4) serve students of varying age and grade levels. SEC. 7. USE OF FUNDS. (a) Scholarships.-- (1) In general.--Subject to paragraph (2) and (3), a grantee shall use the grant funds to provide eligible students with scholarships to pay the tuition, fees, and transportation expenses, if any, to enable them to attend the District of Columbia private elementary or secondary school of their choice. Each grantee shall ensure that the amount of any tuition or fees charged by a school participating in the grantee's program under this Act to an eligible student participating in the program does not exceed the amount of tuition or fees that the school customarily charges to students who do not participate in the program. (2) Payments to parents.--A grantee shall make scholarship payments under the program under this Act to the parent of the eligible student participating in the program, in a manner which ensures that such payments will be used for the payment of tuition, fees, and transportation expenses (if any), in accordance with this Act. (3) Amount of assistance.-- (A) Varying amounts permitted.--Subject to the other requirements of this subsection, a grantee may award scholarships in larger amounts to those eligible students with the greatest need. (B) Annual limit on amount.--The amount of assistance provided to any eligible student by a grantee under a program under this Act may not exceed $7,500 for any academic year. (b) Administrative Expenses.--A grantee may use not more than 3 percent of the amount provided under the grant each year for the administrative expenses of carrying out its program under this Act during the year, including-- (1) determining the eligibility of students to participate; (2) providing information about the program and the schools involved to parents of eligible students; (3) selecting students to receive support; (4) determining the amount of scholarships and issuing them to eligible students; (5) compiling and maintaining financial and programmatic records; and (6) providing funds to assist parents in meeting expenses that might otherwise preclude the participation of their child in the program. SEC. 8. NONDISCRIMINATION. (a) In General.--A school participating in any program under this Act shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, or sex in participating in the program. (b) Applicability and Construction With Respect to Discrimination on the Basis of Sex.-- (1) Applicability.--Notwithstanding subsection (a) or any other provision of law, it shall not be considered discrimination on the basis of sex for a school that is operated by, supervised by, controlled by, or connected to a religious organization to take sex into account to the extent that failing to do so would be inconsistent with the religious tenets or beliefs of the school. (2) Single-sex schools, classes, or activities.-- Notwithstanding subsection (a) or any other provision of law, a parent may choose and a school may offer a single-sex school, class, or activity. (c) Children With Disabilities.--Nothing in this Act may be construed to alter or modify the provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. (d) Religiously Affiliated Schools.-- (1) In general.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a school participating in any program under this Act which is operated by, supervised by, controlled by, or connected to, a religious organization may employ persons of the same religion to the extent determined by that school to promote the religious purpose for which the school is established or maintained. (2) Religious purposes.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law, funds made available under this Act may be used for religious educational purposes, and no participating school shall be required to remove religious art, icons, scriptures, or other symbols. A participating school may retain religious terms in its name, select its board members on a religious basis, and include religious references in its mission statements and other chartering or governing documents. (e) Rule of Construction.--A scholarship (or any other form of support provided to parents of eligible students) under this Act shall be considered assistance to the student and shall not be considered assistance to the school that enrolls the eligible student. The amount of any scholarship (or other form of support provided to parents of an eligible student) under this Act shall not be treated as income of the parents for purposes of Federal tax laws or for determining eligibility for any other Federal program. SEC. 9. EVALUATIONS. (a) In General.-- (1) Duties of secretary.--The Secretary shall-- (A) conduct an evaluation using the strongest possible research design for determining the effectiveness of the programs funded under this Act that addresses the issues described in paragraph (2); and (B) disseminate information on the impact of the programs in increasing the student academic achievement of participating students, as well as other appropriate measures of student success, and on the impact of the programs on students and schools in the District of Columbia. (2) Issues to be evaluated.--The issues described in this paragraph include the following: (A) A comparison of the academic achievement of students who participate in the programs funded under this Act with the academic achievement of students of similar backgrounds who do not participate in such programs. (B) The success of the programs in expanding choice options for parents. (C) The reasons parents choose for their children to participate in the programs. (D) A comparison of the retention rates, dropout rates, and (if appropriate) graduation and college admission rates of students who participate in the programs funded under this Act with the retention rates, dropout rates, and (if appropriate) graduation and college admission rates of students of similar backgrounds who do not participate in such programs. (E) The effects of the programs on public elementary and secondary schools. (F) A comparison of the safety of the schools attended by students who participate in the programs and the schools attended by students who do not participate in the programs. (G) The impact of the program on students and schools in the District of Columbia. (H) Such other issues as the Secretary considers appropriate for inclusion in the evaluation. (b) Reports.--The Secretary shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations, Education and the Workforce, and Government Reform of
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