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Senate Panel Approves 'Competitiveness' Bill

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WASHINGTON--The Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee last week approved the "education for a competitive America act,'' a $900-million package of education programs sponsored by Senator Claiborne Pell, Democrat of Rhode Island.

S 406, a counterpart to trade legislation recently approved by the House, would also reauthorize several elementary- and secondary-education programs contained in HR 5. That bill, which recently passed the House Education and Labor Committee, is expected to reach the House floor early next month.

The Senate panel last week amended S 406 to include another proposal by Senator Pell, a $50-million dropout-prevention measure, S 320, which would support demonstration projects by school districts to address the problem.

Also, like the House trade measure, HR 3, the bill would create a program to aid foreign-language education for elementary and secondary students. Mr. Pell's proposal authorizes $35 million for this purpose; HR 3, $50 million.

The Senate legislation would also provide $20 million annually to subsidize "educational partnerships'' between schools and private-sector institutions "to encourage excellence in education.'' The House measure includes $105 million for such programs.

In addition, S 406 would reauthorize teacher-training programs under the Education for Economic Security Act and expand the Chapter 1 compensatory-education program to include high-school students, a program authorized at $400 million annually. Final action on these programs is not expected before next year, when a House-Senate conference committee will have to resolve differences on more than a dozen programs that HR 5 would extend through 1993.

More prompt action on the new programs is likely, Capitol Hill observers say, as the Congress works to complete action on the trade bill. President Reagan, however, has threatened to veto the legislation in its House-passed form, which he regards as overly protectionist.--J.C.

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