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E.D. Rapped on Chapter 1 Revisions

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Washington--The chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee told a panel of Education Department officials last week that their proposal to alter the laws governing the Chapter 1 program for migrant children "will create many problems and will cause unnecessary hardship" for poor families.

In addition, the committee's ranking minority member told the officials that they "should have considered the political implications" of their plan to alter the funding formula for Chapter 1 allocations to the states, particularly in light of last year's legal battle over the department's decision to base awardson 1970 rather than 1980 census data.

The Congressmen made those comments during a hearing last week on measures to make technical amendments to the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act of 1981 (ecia).

Package 'Pocket Vetoed'

Earlier this year, President Reagan "pocket vetoed" an ecia technical-amendments package sponsored by the Education subcommittee's ranking Republican, Representative William F. Goodling of Pennsylvania, and approved by the Congress during the final days of its last session. (See Education Week, Jan. 19, 1983.)

The President said he found the bill unacceptable, in part, because it included a provision that would have strengthened the Congress's right to disapprove regulations issued by the Education Department.

Representative Goodling has re-introduced a version of the technical-amendments bill in the Congress's current session that is stripped of the legislative-veto provision and other sections of which the Administration disapproves.

This year, however, the Administration plans to send to the Congress its own ecia technical-amendments bill. Department officials say it would:

Reduce from five years to two years the amount of time that a migrant child would be eligible to receive services under the state Chapter 1 program. The department has argued that the change is necessary because the government "must focus migrant-education funds on the truly migratory." Furthermore, it said, students forced to drop out of the special migrant program would still be eligible to receive services under the regular Chapter 1 program for disadvantaged students.

In addition, the department wants to eliminate a section of the law forcing it to spend at least $6 million annually for the coordination of the migrant program.

Allow the department to use the definition of an impoverished family associated with the 1980 census when it makes its regular Chapter 1 allocations to the states.

Last year, the department decided to use the 1970 data in making these allocations because it claimed that newer 1980 data were not available in time. In doing so, the department created a scramble among states for Chapter 1 dollars. The issue wound up in the federal courts but was resolved after the Congress passed an urgent supplemental appropriations bill ensuring that all states could receive the maximum amount of Chapter 1 dollars possible using either the 1970 or the 1980 data.

Delete a requirement that forces the department to use a 1975 Census Bureau survey when it allocates Chapter 1 funds. The department has argued that the removal of this requirement "would eliminate the anomaly of adjusting allocations made on the basis of more recent 1980 data to account for obsolete" data collected five years earlier.

Indicated Support

Representative Goodling told the department officials testifying before the House panel that he "probably could suppport" most of the funding-formula aspects of the Administration's proposal.

"But you know the political implications of switching a funding formula," he added. "This can get very thorny. You're going to have to provide us with computer runs to show us just what you're doing here."

Both Representative Goodling and the panel's chairman, Representative Carl D. Perkins, Democrat of Kentucky, also warned the department officials that their proposals regarding the migrant program were not likely to meet with Congressional approval.

Representative Goodling reminded the officials that the proposals would have to win the favor of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee. "When you get there, you're going to have to deal with" Republican Senators Robert T. Stafford of Vermont and Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, he said. "And I can tell you that they are set in concrete against this issue.".

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