Studies Evaluate State, Local Experience With Block Grants
Since last year, the first in which school systems received federal aid under Chapter 2 of the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act of 1981 (ecia), a number of groups have conducted studies looking at the first year's experience with the block-grants program. Among them are:
No Strings Attached: An Interim Report on the New Education Block Grant, by Anne T. Henderson of the National Committee for Citizens in Education.
The report gives the legislative history of Chapter 2, documents changes in the distribution and use of federal funds under the block grant, and discusses the governance of the new program through case studies of the experiences of seven states.
It concludes that "the formula that allocates funds from [the federal government] to the states' [school-age population] has resulted in a massive redistribution of federal funds away from states serving large numbers of poor, nonwhite children, toward more sparsely settled states with few minority children."
For further information, contact the National Committee for Citizens in Education, 410 Wilde Lake Village Green, Columbia, Md. 21044.
The New Federalism: State Responses to the 1981 Education Consolidation and Improvement Act, by Linda Darling-Hammond and Ellen L. Marks of the Rand Corporation for the U.S. Education Department. The study analyzes the responses of nine states, reviews the legislation creating the block grants to states, assesses the roles of various state bodies in formulating Chapter 2 policy, and analyzes the various intergovernmental relationships created by the block-grants program.
"The ecia represents a small first step toward realigning the intergovernmental aid system in education," the authors note. "It is a small step both because the consolidated programs represent a tiny fraction of education revenues and because the amount of real deregulation accompanying the new law is minimal."
Most state officials agreed with the intent of the ecia and thought that it created opportunities for "more effective and efficient service delivery," the authors also said. But "again and again," they added, state administrators pointed out "the numerous ambiguities created by the passage of the ecia and its administration by the Department of Education."
For further information, contact The Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, Calif. 90406.
Kaleidoscopes: Emerging Patterns of Response and Action in E.C.I.A. Case Studies of Chapter 2 in Selected States, by Regina M. J. Kyle of E.H. White and Company for the National Institute of Education of the U.S. Education Department. This study evaluates the effects of the implementation of Chapter 2 in nine states.
In general, the author concludes, the process of implementing their block grants "has been a smooth one" in the nine states. "State agencies have been careful and responsible in carrying out their mandates."
This study also concludes that the school systems that received funds during 1982-83 under Chapter 2 had little or no involvement with previous categorical programs and that large amounts of block-grant money is being spent on computers.
For more information, contact E.H. White and Company, 1025 Vermont Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005.
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E.D. Block Grants Analyzed
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The Effects of the Chapter 2, E.C.I.A. Consolidation on the Administrative and Paperwork Requirements for Local School Districts, by Anne H. Hastings and Ted Bartell of Advanced Technologies Inc. for the office of planning, budget, and evaluation of the U.S. Education Department. The purpose of the report was to analyze how Chapter 2 affected the paperwork requirements of local school administrators who receive the federal aid.
The authors found that 11 of the 12 local Chapter 2 administrators interviewed agreed that "the block grant reduced the administrative and paperwork burden on schools" and that the two most positive aspects of the Chapter 2 program are the simplified application procedures and the discretion that is afforded local school officials.
Some of the local officials surveyed, however, said the Chapter 2 program has resulted in the loss of funds directed specifically at innovative local research and demonstration projects, the weakening of controls "to ensure that funds are expended according to the law and for purposes that are in the national interest, and the loss of incentives to plan projects carefully, set objectives and evaluate results." For more information, contact Advanced Technologies Inc., 7923 Jones Branch Drive, McLean, Va. 22102.
Fiscal Effects of the Chapter 2, E.C.I.A. Block Grant on the Largest Districts and Cities, by Richard K. Jung and Ted Bartell of Advanced Technologies Inc. for the office of planning, budget, and evaluation of the U.S. Education Department. This study compares funding patterns under Chapter 2 in 28 of the nation's largest school systems to the funding levels under the former categorical programs in the two years prior to the implementation of the block grants.
Twelve of the 28 school systems received more aid under Chapter 2 than they did the year before; 16 schools systems received less, the authors found. Overall, the 28 school systems studied received 30 percent less in federal funds last year under Chapter 2 than they did the year before under various categorical programs.
The researchers also found that county school systems, in general, "fared better" under Chapter 2 than did city school systems; systems with low proportions of nonwhite students tended to receive higher Chapter 2 allocations. "The findings of this analysis," the authors note, "suggest that some attention be focused on alternatives for assisting districts undergoing court-ordered desegregation, which realized substantial budget reduction under Chapter 2."
For more information, contact Advanced Technologies Inc., 7923 Jones Branch Drive, McLean, Va. 22102.--tt