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Hatch Sponsors Bill To Consolidate Vocational Ed.

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Washington--The Reagan Administration's controversial block-grant proposal for vocational and adult education was introduced in the Senate last week under the sponsorship of Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah.

The bill would consolidate 11 federal programs under the Vocational Education Act of 1963 and the Adult Education Act of 1966 into a single program.

New Program Funding

The new program would be funded at a level of $500 million in fiscal 1983, down from the current funding level of $740 million under the fiscal 1982 continuing resolution.

Up to 10 percent of the funds appropriated for the block grant could be reserved by the Secretary of Education for programs of nationwide importance, with the remainder going to the states.

States would be required to use at least 30 percent of their block-grant funds for projects directly related to state and local economic development, another 30 percent for strengthening of state and local vocational-education systems, and a final 13 percent toward adult basic education.

U.S. Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell, in letters to the House and Senate leadership, described the current federal vocational-education act as "a plethora of sub-programs, set-asides, and priorities" and "one of the most intrusive of all federal programs."

The current vocational-education act earmarks funds for programs targeted toward women, the handicapped, and other special groups. Several education and women's groups have strongly criticized the proposed elimination of those "set-asides." The new bill, however, unlike earlier draft versions, includes a section prohibiting states receiving funds under the act from discriminating on the basis of sex, race, or handicap.--T.M.

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