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Panel Urged To Add Aid for Disadvantaged

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WASHINGTON--Education advocates focused on the needs of disadvantaged students last week as they strongly urged a House appropriations panel to fully fund education programs in fiscal 1989.

"We're not asking you to throw money. We're asking you to make a conscious, deliberate, and wise investment in our nation's human resources,'' said James A. Blank, president of the National Education Association's Wisconsin affiliate.

Meanwhile, conferees were still working late last week to reconcile differences between budget resolutions passed by the House and Senate. The House version earmarks $400 million more for education programs than its Senate counterpart.

Budget resolutions set proposed funding levels for broad categories of programs and flag high-priority items, while appropriations panels allocate funds to specific programs.

At a hearing last week before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, witnesses used the plight of "at risk'' students, coupled with the national need for better-trained workers, to buttress their arguments for more funding for disparate programs.

Programs touted as beneficial for the disadvantaged included Chapter 1, vocational education, magnet-schools aid, and even a proposed center for gifted and talented Hawaiian students.

Witnesses also urged increased funding for a program benefiting handicapped preschoolers, for a restoration of 1988 cuts in impact aid and vocational education, and funding for several new programs authorized by HR 5, the omnibus education bill signed by the President last week.

Those initiatives include a dropout-prevention program, a basic-skills program for secondary-school students, and Even Start, which is to provide educational services to disadvantaged preschoolers and their parents.

Community Efforts

Vocational educators praised Administration officials for not proposing elimination of vocational programs, as they did last year, but criticized their plan to eliminate several categorical programs funded through the vocational-education law in favor of unrestricted state grants.

Programs supporting community-based organizations and vocational training for non-English-speaking students directly serve disadvantaged students, the educators argued. They also argued that consumer and homemaking education helps prepare students to take on the responsibilities of job and family, and tackles social problems such as teen-age pregnancy and drug abuse.

Delegate Ron de Lugo, Democrat of the Virgin Islands, and the territory's education commissioner, Linda Creque, painted a bleak picture of an educational system short of money and burdened with huge numbers of noncitizen students and dilapidated schools, including two that were closed temporarily in February when sewage backed up into the buildings.--JM

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