May 4, 2001
Honorable Jane Dee Hull
Governor of Arizona
1700 West Washington
Phoenix, Arizona 85007
Dear Governor Hull:
Thank you for your letter regarding reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and for your recommendations with regard to continued funding for schools that provide services solely to homeless children.
As you know, the fundamental principle of this Administration's education policy is that no child should be left behind. Districts and schools must be held accountable for ensuring that all students, including homeless and other disadvantaged students, meet high academic standards. To help achieve the goals of educational excellence for all students and to narrow the achievement gap between the rich and the poor, local communities must have greater flexibility in using federal funds.
H.R. 1, the House Education and the Workforce Committee's comprehensive bill for reforming America's public elementary and secondary schools, includes reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento Act. The proposed legislation retains the basic tenets of the current Act: (1) that homeless children and youth must have access to the same, free appropriate education, including public preschool education, provided to other children and youth; (2) that the barriers that homeless children and youth face in enrolling, attending, and succeeding in school must be removed; (3) that homelessness alone is not a sufficient reason to separate students from the mainstream school environment; and (4) that homeless children and youth should be provided the services they need to meet high academic standards.
The proposed McKinney-Vento legislation as well as the current Act expressly prohibit states that receive McKinney-Vento funds from segregating homeless children, either in a separate school or in a separate program within a school, based solely on their homeless status. However, the proposed legislation would permit a state that has established a separate school for homeless children prior to the enactment of the reauthorized McKinney-Vento Act to remain eligible for McKinney-Vento funding. We support these provisions.
It is not our intent to disrupt ongoing educational services by interfering with existing schools for homeless children that have a track record of success. At the same time, we believe it is important to provide homeless children and youth with the services that they need in a mainstream school environment. While the proposed legislation would give states the flexibility to provide funds to already established schools for homeless children, it would not relieve a state or district of its responsibilities to remove barriers faced by homeless children and youth so they can receive a quality education in a regular school setting.
Thank you for sharing with us your views on the reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento Act and for your efforts to help all children in Arizona, especially disadvantaged children, achieve academic excellence.