WASHINGTON — In one of the few domestic policy priorities not eclipsed by the Sept. 11 attacks, U.S. congressional negotiators expected to wrap up work Tuesday on the most sweeping educational reform bill since the 1960s.
The bipartisan effort, which addresses accountability for failing schools, student testing programs, bilingual education, literacy initiatives and new programs to improve teacher quality, was one of President Bush's top priorities in his first year in office.
The House-Senate negotiators said late last week they hope to finish their work on the "No Child Left Behind Act" in a meeting Tuesday, clearing the way for the full House and Senate to swiftly approve the legislation before finishing their work for the year.
The bill is the most extensive update and reform of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act and reflects many months of hard-fought bipartisan compromises.
The bill nearly got derailed in a dispute over funding for special education. The federal government has never met its pledge to meet 40% of the cost of special education, and some lawmakers, mostly Democrats, wanted to force the government to pay its full share--$172 billion--over the next decade.