Cavazos' Criticism of House Voc.-Ed. Bill Draws Fire From Key Republican Panelist
Washington--The House bill reauthorizing vocational-education programs "does not go far enough in eliminating set-asides and unnecessary categorical programs, and, in fact, creates new ones," Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos said last week.
Speaking at a meeting of state vocational-education directors, Mr. Cavazos also criticized the bill for diminishing the state role in occupational-training programs.
Mr. Cavazos vowed to push the Administration's legislative proposal--which would give state officials greater authority over allocation of funds to special groups currently served by set-asides--during Senate action on the measure this summer.
The Secretary's comments drew a sharp rebuke from Representative Bill Goodling of Pennsylvania, the ranking Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee and a prime sponsor of the legislation.
"That is an unbelievable statement," Mr. Goodling said in an interview. "The bill they sent us doesn't eliminate set-asides at all."
Under current law, 57 percent of federal vocational-education funds are designated for special populations, with specific percentages for the disadvantaged, the handicapped, and other groups. The remaining 43 percent goes for program-improvement projects administered at the discretion of the states.
The House bill eliminates the 57/43 split. Instead, it would distribute 80 percent of funds to districts according to a formula based on the numbers of Chapter 1 and handicapped students and total enrollments.
The remaining 20 percent would stay at the state level. Of that amount, half would go to maintain two current set-asides for programs serving displaced homemakers and promoting sex equity.
The bill also creates two new categorical programs aimed at linking high-school and community-college vocational efforts and upgrading facilities and equipment.
The Education Department favors keeping the 57/43 split in funds, but not mandating specific percentages for each population group. Instead, it would allow each state to determine what percentage would go to each group based on state needs.
Mr. Cavazos also told the direc8tors that the bill does not go far enough in requiring performance standards and is insufficiently clear in identifying authorized program activities.
But Mr. Goodling defended the bill, arguing that "in order for anyone to move ahead in the program, they must show improvement."
"[Secretary Cavazos] had better read our bill," said Mr. Goodling, who promised to communicate with Mr. Cavazos about his remarks.
Also last week, aides to the House and Senate education subcommittees appeared at a meeting of members of state vocational-education councils.
The chief Democratic counsel for the House Education and Labor Committee, John F. Jennings, and Jo-Marie St. Martin, a Republican staff member, defended the House bill and its radical changes before a tough audience whose members could lose their official positions as a result of the legislation.
The bill eliminates the state councils in favor of a larger council that would coordinate vocational-education programs with several other job-related federal initiatives, such as the Job Training Partnership Act.
Mr. Jennings said a larger panel was needed because tight resources would require more coordination of programs in the future. David Evans, staff director for the Senate education subcommittee, said the idea of a single state council for several federal programs was popular among Senate members as well.