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Educators Praise House Teacher-Recruitment Bills

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Washington--The House Education and Labor Committee held its first hearing last week on legislation designed to improve the recruitment and training of teachers.

And though educators praised in general the bills under study, they disagreed over how much of the proposed federal funding should be earmarked for colleges and universities.

The House measures--HR 4130, sponsored the committee's chairman, Augustus F. Hawkins of California, and HR 3909, put forth by its ranking Republican, Bill Goodling of Pennsylvania--are similar in intent but narrower in scope than two Senate bills on the subject--S 1675 and S 1676.

Representative Hawkins's bill, the proposed "21st century teachers act," would authorize $50 million a year for forgivable student loans to prospective teachers willing to work in a poor or rural school district; $250 million for grants to colleges for programs to recruit and retain prospective minority and high-achieving teachers; and $500 million for "professional-development academies" serving both new and experienced teachers.

The Goodling bill would create a loan-forgiveness program for early-childhood and elementary-school teachers, and a state teacher-training program to improve the quality of teaching at those grade levels. Each would be authorized at $50 million for the first year.

In contrast, the legislation proposed by Senators Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island would authorize a wide variety of programs and carry a potential combined annual cost of as much as $700 million. (See Education Week, Oct. 4, 1989.)

"We have tried to streamline and focus resources on teachers and administrators," Mr. Hawkins said in a statement last week.

Witnesses at the hearing generally praised the proposals. But some, including the president of the American Federation of Teachers, Albert Shanker, and Richard Gutkind, a teacher-training specialist for the Pittsburgh public schools, suggested that aid be directed more toward schools and districts and less toward higher-education institutions.

"You can't leave higher education out; we have something to contribute," countered Kala Stroup, president of Murray State University, who supported collaborations between schools and colleges.

All the bills call for training academies that would be cooperative ventures between colleges and schools. Unlike the Senate bills, however, the House bills would target recruitment funding specifically at higher-education institutions.--jm

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