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Reagan Education Policy Debated

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Washington--The Reagan Administration's record during the past 22 months "proves that the President came to Washington not to bury education but to resuscitate it," a high-ranking Education Department official told a group of educators meeting here last month.

But a Congressional aide countered that the "rhetoric doesn't match the reality," and charged that the President has reduced services to the disadvantaged while increasing regulatory burdens on them.

The symposium on the Administration's education policies was sponsored jointly by the Bureau of National Affairs, the Harvard Education Review, and the Institute for Educational Leadership.

Speaking in the Administration's defense, Gary L. Bauer, ed's deputy undersecretary for planning, budget, and evaluation, said, "It would be hard to fear the President's initiatives, because when he took office, education was in a downward spiral with no end in sight."

The President has provided the nation with "dynamic leadership," he continued. "The National Commission on Excellence in Education, with the President's backing, did what no single writer could do: sound an alarm. You can't put a dollar amount on that."

He also pointed to the Administration's efforts to increase choice in education through tuition tax credits for parents with children in private schools and vouchers for parents whose children are eligible for Chapter 1 services.

John F. Jennings, counsel to the House Subcommittee on Elementary, Secondary, and Vocational Education, responded: "I hear today that the goal of this Administration is to promote excellence in education, but I see very little to support that. What I do see is 3 million fewer children receiving school lunches, 700,000 fewer children receiving Chapter 1 services, and, for the first time in years, needy students deciding not to go to college because there's no aid available. I don't see excellence in those facts."--tm

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