The July 27 editorial "Education Battle" argued that a Republican proposal called Academic Achievement for All Act (Straight A's) fails to meet the test of keeping federal dollars targeted toward lower-income children. That is wrong. Straight A's would permit even more federal education funding for lower-income children with real accountability to ensure that all children learn.

The Straight A's proposal does nothing to change the focus of federal education programs already in place, but it brings long-needed accountability to these programs and provides greater flexibility to state and local officials in meeting the academic needs of students.

Straight A's gives states the option of combining federal K-12 funds from several programs to boost student learning and narrow achievement gaps. In exchange for the flexibility to achieve these important goals, states are subject to strict accountability for their performance, and they face financial penalties if they leave any students behind. For the first time, states are given financial incentive to close the achievement gap between disadvantaged students and their peers.

Substantial evidence shows that 30 years of Washington-based bureaucracies have resulted in the neediest students being left behind. The Title I education program for the most educationally disadvantaged students has spent $120 billion with no significant improvement in performance. The Post says our proposal is "too great a risk for no good reason." In contrast, the prospect of leaving children behind for another 30 years is too great a risk. Common sense and compassion dictate that we at least try another approach. Not to do so is unconscionable.

We agree with The Post's statement that elementary and secondary education is a state and local issue. Parents and taxpayers expect accountability and performance from their schools, and Straight A's provides both while letting states determine how to get there.

SLADE GORTON

U.S. Senator (R-Wash.)

BILL GOODLING

U.S. Representative (R-Pa.)

Chairman, House Education

And the Workforce Committee

Washington