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Math-Science Bill Amended; May Harm Chance of Passage

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Washington--The House Education and Labor Committee has drastically revised a bill designed to bolster mathematics and science education in the nation's schools, dimming prospects for the bill's passage during the lame-duck session of Congress.

During its mark-up last week of the bill, HR 7130, the education panel by voice vote adopted amendments sponsored by its chairman, Carl D. Perkins, Democrat of Kentucky, that weakened the responsibility of the National Science Foundation (nsf) for programs created by the bill and passed much of that responsibility instead to the Education Department (ed).

Representative Perkins's amendments would also expand the role of state and local education agencies under the proposed National Engineering and Science Manpower Act.

Before the amendments were adopted, the bill, which originated in the House Subcommittee on Science, Research, and Technology, would have authorized the spending of up to $500 million over the next five years primarily for the improvement of college-level programs.

The largest section of the bill aimed primarily at precollegiate education was a proposed $50-million "set-aside" fund for inservice training for elementary- and secondary-school teachers. The programs would have been developed and operated by the nsf

Members of the education panel adopted the changes, according to a staff member of the education subcommittee, because they felt that jurisdiction for mathematics and science education programs more properly belonged with ed and not with the nsf and because they felt the programs proposed by the science panel were too narrow in scope.

The differences of opinion between the education and science committees, combined with the short amount of time left in the lame-duck session, significantly reduce the bill's chances of approval by both the full House and Senate, the staff member added.

Under the revisions adopted by the committee, grants would be made to local school districts and state departments of education for the creation of mathematics, science, computer, and foreign-language programs. The revised bill would also provide grants to state boards of vocational education and community colleges for the expansion of electronics and computer-training programs. These new grants would be made by ed, and not by the nsf

The education subcommittee also took the liberty of revising the spending figures originally set by the science panel.

The original bill authorized expenditures totaling $51 million during fiscal 1983, with a cap of $505 million over the four-year life of the bill. These expenditures would have been made through the nsf

The amendments adopted last week would cut back funding for the nsf portion of the bill to $41 million in fiscal 1983, with total expenditures not to exceed $354 million by fiscal 1987. The new programs to be run by ed, on the other hand, would be funded "by such sums as may be necessary" over the life of the bill.


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