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Public Papers - 1992

Message to the Congress Transmitting Proposed Legislation To Establish a ``GI Bill'' for Children

1992-06-25

To the Congress of the United States:

Forty-eight years ago this week, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the GI Bill. With the hope of duplicating the success of that historic legislation, I am pleased to transmit for your immediate consideration and enactment the ``Federal Grants for State and Local `GI Bills' for Children.'' This proposal is a crucial component of our efforts to help the country achieve the National Education Goals by the year 2000. Also transmitted is a section-by-section analysis.

This legislation would authorize half-a-billion new Federal dollars in fiscal year 1993, and additional amounts in later years, to help States and communities give ,000 scholarships to middle- and low-income children. Families may spend these scholarships at any lawfully operating school of their choice -- public, private, or religious. The result would be to give middle- and low-income families consumer power -- dollars to spend at any school they choose. This is the muscle parents need to transform our education system and create the best schools in the world for all our children.

At the close of World War II, the Federal Government created the GI Bill giving veterans scholarships to use at any college of their choice -- public, private, or religious. This consumer power gave veterans opportunity, helped to create the best system of colleges and universities in the world, and gave America a new generation of leaders. Now that the Cold War is over, the Federal Government should help State and local governments create GI Bills for children. Under this approach, scholarships would be available for middle- and low-income parents to use at the elementary or secondary school of their choice.

This bill will give middle- and low-income families more of the same choices available to wealthier families. Through families, it will provide new funds at the school site that teachers and principals can use to help all children achieve the high educational standards called for by the National Education Goals. In addition, the legislation will create a marketplace of educational opportunities to help improve all schools; engage parents in their children's schooling; and encourage creation of other academic programs for children before and after school, on weekends, or during school vacations.

Once this proposal is enacted, any State or locality can apply for enough Federal funds to give each child of a middle- or low-income family a ,000 annual scholarship. The governmental unit would have to take significant steps to provide a choice of schools to families with school children in the area and permit families to spend the ,000 Federal scholarships at a wide variety of public and private schools. It would have to allow all lawfully operating schools in the area -- public, private, and religious -- to participate if they choose.

The Secretary of Education would select grantees on the basis of: (1) the number and variety of choices made available to families; (2) the extent to which the applicant has provided educational choices to all children, including children who are not eligible for scholarships; (3) the proportion of children who will participate who are from low-income families; and (4) the applicant's financial support (including private support) for the project.

The maximum family income for eligible children would be determined by the grantee, but it could not exceed the higher of the State or national median income, adjusted for family size. All eligible children in the project area would receive scholarships, as long as sufficient funds are available. If all eligible children cannot participate, the grantee would provide scholarships to those with the lowest family incomes. Students would continue to receive scholarships over the 4-year life of a project unless they leave school, move out of the area, or no longer meet the income criteria. Up to 0 of each scholarship may be used for other academic programs for children before and after school, on weekends, or during school vacations.

This bill provides aid to families, not institutions. However, as a condition of participating in this program, a school must comply with Federal anti-discrimination provisions of: section 601 of title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (race), section 901 of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (gender), and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (disability).

Funding is authorized at 0 million in FY 1993, and ``such sums as may be necessary'' through FY 2000. The Department of Education would conduct a comprehensive evaluation of these demonstration projects. The evaluation would assess the impact of the program in such areas as educational achievement and parents' involvement in, and satisfaction with, their children's education.

I urge the Congress to take prompt and favorable action on this legislation.

George Bush

The White House,

June 25, 1992.

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
1000 George Bush Drive West, College Station, Texas 77845
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