E.D. Opposes Reauthorization of Asbestos, Immigrant Programs
Washington--During a House subcommittee hearing last week, representatives from the Education Department argued against sections of an omnibus bill that would extend for five years several expiring programs in elementary and secondary education.
The bill, HR 11, would extend support for a number of federal education programs, including those created under the Bilingual Education Act, the Asbestos School Hazards Detection and Control Act, and the General Education Provisions Act, among others.
There is also a possibility the bill will be amended to extend the Emergency Immigrant Education Act, a $30-million program that expires on Sept. 30.
Administration spokesmen appearing before the House Subcommittee on Elementary, Secondary, and Vocational Education last week strongly opposed this extension.
Gary L. Bauer, the department's deputy undersecretary for planning, budget and evaluation, said, "We do not believe a case has been made that the children of immigrants--many of whom were born in the United States and are hence not themselves immigrants--pose special educational problems that are not being addressed through existing programs."
The Administration officials said they also oppose the reauthorization of federally sponsored asbestos-control activities. "Most of the effort in the area of detection has already been completed," Mr. Bauer said. "The removal of asbestos from the schools can and should be paid for by state and local taxpayers."
The Education Department has estimated that removal of friable--or easily crumbling--asbestos from all public and private schools in the country will cost $1.4 billion. In hearings before a Senate appropriations committee last week, department officials were told to "be assured" that funds for asbestos removal would be included in the fiscal 1985 budget. (See Education Week, March 21, 1984.) There was no similar assurance from the House panel last week.
Among the other programs discussed last week were:
Bilingual Education. The Administration officials said they continue to support the bilingual-education improvements act of 1983, which they believe offers greater instructional flexibility at a lower cost than other bilingual proposals. One such proposal was introduced last week by Representative Dale E. Kildee, Democrat of Michigan, and Resident Commissioner Baltasar Corrada, Democrat of Puerto Rico. (See related story on page 13.)
Impact Aid. The Administration officials said they would propose once again to restrict federal impact-aid payments to "A" children--those with parents who both live and work on federal property--and to end payments for "B" children, whose parents either live or work on federal property. Payments for 'B' children, which are authorized only through the end of the current fiscal year, would be extended under HR 11.
General Education Provisions Act. HR 11 would extend the authorization for the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the National Center for Education Statistics through fiscal 1989. The department officials said they support reauthorizations only through the end of fiscal 1986, when they will present comprehensive new proposals for their reauthorization.
In separate hearings on the Education Department's 1985 budget before the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell was commended for offering a budget that would increase federal education spending by $100 million over current levels.
The subcommittee's chairman, Representative William H. Natcher, Democrat of Kentucky, told Mr. Bell, "We're glad you're still serving," and asked if plans to abolish the Education Department have been abandoned once and for all.
"That isn't an issue before us at present," Mr. Bell said.