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Two prominent Congressional Democrats have joined forces to sponsor a bill to boost mathematics, science, foreign-language, and technology programs in the schools.

Representative Carl D. Perkins of Kentucky, the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, and Senator Gary Hart of Colorado, began hearings last week on their bill, which is supported by a wide range of education and business groups.

The bill's title, "American defense education act," was chosen to encourage the same kind of public support that existed for another bill to strengthen such programs: the National Defense Education Act, which the Congress passed in 1958.

"The launching of Sputnik in 1957 awakened the Congress and the American people to the urgency of strengthening and encouraging education," said Senator Hart. "It is imperative in 1982 to acknowledge [that] the economic and national security of our nation depends on the education and the training of our people."

The shift from federal to state evaluation of block-grant programs may hinder efforts to assess how well the programs achieve their objectives, according to a new report from the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of the Congress.

Based on a review of previous block grants, the report, Lessons Learned From Past Block Grants: Implications for Congressional Oversight, finds that the shift has opened a "gap in accountability" for the programs. The gao investigators analyzed the requirements for their effective evaluation.

Because the states have no common system of collecting information about the programs, future evaluation efforts are likely to be problematic, according to the report. The investigators also found that there is "no conclusive pattern to the effects of the pre-1981 block grants on the administrative costs of state and local grantees." Hence, the report says, past experience does not necessarily bear out Administration assertions that the new system will save money.

"The lack of any consistency in earlier findings of differences in administrative costs between block grants and categorical programs suggests that the cost savings that resulted from administering block grants would not, by themselves, have offset budget cuts of greater than 10 percent in programmatic activities," the report states.

In addition, the investigators found that past experience does not bear out the claim that under block-grant programs, poor and disadvantaged citizens would not be adequately served.

The report was prepared at the request of Charles B. Rangel, Democrat of New York.

The research library of Columbia University's Teachers College, which claims to have the largest collection of education books and materials in the world, was dedicated last week as the Milbank Memorial Library in honor of the family that supported its extensive renovation and modernization.

The library, named for Dunlevy and Katharine Fowler Milbank and their son, Thomas F. Milbank, former trustees of the college, contains 394,000 volumes, 1,811 current periodical titles, 1,994 linear feet of manuscripts, and an extensive collection of microfiche, film, and other ''nonprint" materials, according to Isabel Mount, director of the office of public relations.

The collection also includes such items as the archives of the New York City school system.

To improve access to these materials, the library has been technologically refurbished, and now has additional computer and other sophisticated information systems, according to Ms. Mount.

The project, begun in 1979, cost $7.7 million and was funded by contributions from The Dunlevy Milbank Foundation Inc., the J.M. Foundation, and Thomas F. Milbank and others.

This week, more than 1,000 colleges and universities across the country are expected to celebrate higher-education's contributions to American society with a variety of academic and ceremonial events. The governors of all 50 states and the mayors of 15 major cities have issued proclamations in honor of the week.

The activities will highlight the second year of the "America's Energy is Mindpower" campaign sponsored by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, a Washington-based organization representing colleges and universities.

In Washington, college and university officials will gather to honor the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, president of the University of Notre Dame. In a ceremony including Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell and many of higher education's prominent national leaders, the outspoken Father Hesburgh will receive the Thomas Jefferson Medal, established last year by case to honor an American who provides national educational leadership. The first recipient was John Gardner, former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare and founder of Common Cause.

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