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'A Mile and an Inch Deep:' Sowing Federal Dollars in the Math/Science Field

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The public should not expect a "miracle cure" from the mathematics and science education measure that is widely expected to be enacted by the Congress this year, according to representatives of several major education organizations.

In general, the education officials predict that the act will not go far toward solving problems in the nation's math and science classrooms because it will address too many problems with too few dollars.

"Certainly, it won't hurt," notes Bruce Hunter of the American Association of School Administrators. "But you can't expect too much when you spread money a mile wide and an inch deep."


LEGISLATIVE MOVES


On March 2, the House passed a $400-million version of the education-improvement bill. The Senate was widely expected to act before the end of this month on its version of the measure, which authorizes the spending of $425 million in the fiscal year 1984.

Once Senate action on the bill has been completed, members of that chamber will meet with members of the House to draft a compromise bill that will have to be approved by both chambers.

If approved, the bill then will have to be cleared by President Reagan, who advocated spending only $50 million for math- and science-improvement efforts in fiscal 1984.


The main thrust of both the House and the Senate bills is to improve the quality and increase the size of the math and science teaching force. The bills would take several approaches, including:

General aid or block grants to states for teacher inservice and retraining programs;

Scholarships and forgivable loans for prospective teachers and current teachers seeking retraining, as well as cash awards for exemplary teachers;

Summer institutes and workshops for teachers;

Matching grants to states and school districts for cooperative programs with businesses; and

Grants to postsecondary institutions for research and development projects and teacher training.

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