Published Online:

Capital Digest

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

Secretary of Commerce Robert A. Mosbacher has decided against adjusting the 1990 census to compensate for the undercounting of the poor and minorities.

Urban educators had pressed for an adjustment because allocations for 18 federal education programs, including Chapter 1 compensatory education and Chapter 2 block grants, are based on census figures. (See Education Week, Nov. 28, 1990.)

Cities and states adversely affected by Mr. Mosbacher's decision last month are expected to file suits in an effort to force an adjustment.

Mr. Mosbacher said that after reviewing the matter and consulting with various experts, he concluded that "the evidence in support of an adjustment [was] inconclusive and unconvincing."

He noted, however, that the Census Bureau estimates that blacks were undercounted by 4.8 percent, Hispanics by 5.2 percent, Asians and Pacific Islanders by 3.1 percent, American Indians by 5 percent, and whites by 1.7 percent.

Michael Resnick, associate executive director of the National School Boards Association, noted that the undercount "is not a one-shot problem" because federal aid allocations will be based on the 1990 census "for a full decade."

President Bush has approved a blue-ribbon panel's recommendation that the government close 36 military bases and research laboratories by 1997, and a House committee voted last week to uphold the findings.

Mr. Bush affirmed the findings of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission on July 10. The Congress has 45 days from that date to either approve or reject the recommendations; it cannot modify them.

Despite the efforts of members of Congress whose districts would be affected, the House Armed Services Committee voted 44 to 8 last week against rejecting the recommendations.

The full House is scheduled to vote this week.

School districts that serve the children of the targeted bases' civilian and military employees stand to lose millions of federal dollars.

For example, the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools reports that the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District in Seaside, Calif., would lose $7.64 million annually if nearby Fort Ord is closed, as the commission recommends.

The federal commission's July 1 recommendation that the government close three dozen bases and consolidate 43 others is part of an effort to trim the size of the military by 25 percent. The closures and realignments are expected to save up to $1.5 billion annually.

The recommendations follow a 1989 decision to close or consolidate 91 military facilities by 1995. Thus far, only one of those facilities has actively begun reducing its personnel, said John Forkenbrock, executive director of the impact-aid group.

In a recent letter to the group's members, Mr. Forkenbrock said that the Defense Department's office of economic adjustment will assist affected school districts on request.

The Congress this month sent to President Bush legislation designed to coordinate new and existing programs intended to wipe out illiteracy.

HR 751 would allow educators to use Chapter 2 block-grant funds to identify students with reading difficulties, and would expand the Even Start program, which serves disadvantaged preschoolers and their parents.

It would also create a National Institute for Literacy, state literacy-resource centers, and an initiative to encourage literacy programs in workplaces. It also would finance television literacy programs aimed at families.

Similar legislation was approved last year, but died after being combined with an omnibus education package.

The new bill was approved by voice vote in both the House and Senate after battles over provisions that would have required literacy programs in state prisons. A compromise made such programs discre8tionary.

All but two states met a July 1 deadline for agreeing to provide special-education services to disabled children from 3 to 5 years old, according to the Education Department.

Only Oregon and Alabama decided to opt out of the new federal-grant program, which was created by a 1987 amendment to existing federal special-education law.

States had until July 1 to mandate services for handicapped preschoolers or risk losing all federal special-education funds aimed at that population. (See Education Week, March 27, 1991.)

Oregon, which faces a $630-million shortfall in its education budget this year, has reportedly decided to save money by postponing participation in the program until next year. State legislators in Alabama, faced with similar budget problems, are still debating the issue.

The House Education and Labor Committee is expected to act this week on a measure to reauthorize federal programs for disabled children from birth through age 2.

Like a similar measure passed by the Senate in June, the House bill authorizes $220 million for the program. In addition, it would set aside funds for programs serving at-risk infants and for training personnel to work with infants and toddlers with disabilities.

The bill also seeks to clarify rules governing programs on American Indian reservations, according to Patricia Laird, a senior analyst with the House Select Education Committee, which drafted the measure.

Neither that bill nor the Senate bill, however, contains a Bush Administration proposal to require states to charge fees for services based on parents' ability to pay. That proposal is included in a separate measure, not expected to pass, that was introduced by Representative Bill Goodling, a Pennsylvania Republican.

Deadlines for the infant-and-toddler program were already extended earlier this year under a separate measure approved by the Congress in May. (See Education Week, May 29, 1991.)

Medicaid expenses shared by the state and federal governments are expected to more than double in the first six years of the decade, according to a Bush Administration task force.

Officials estimate that Medicaid spending will rise from $72 billion in 1990 to $200 billion in 1996.

The increase is expected to stem from inflation, program expansions ordered by the Congress, and rising health-care costs, according to the report by the Health and Human Services Department and the Office of Management and Budget.

Managing health-care costs is expected to be the primary focus of the National Governors' Association's summer meeting this year. It will also be prominent on the agenda at the annual meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Economists and education advocates alike have argued that expensive new Medicaid mandates have been responsible for squeezing state budgets already hit hard by inflation.

Medicaid spending accounted for about 4 percent of the average state budget in 1970. By last year it had increased to 14 percent, according to the nga

Programs designed to move welfare recipients toward self-sufficiency have helped put people to work and saved state and local governments money, according to a study released last week.

The Manpower Development Research Corporation analyzed 45 studies evaluating state and local programs operated during the past decade under the federal Work Incentive Program, which predated the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training program enacted under the Family Support Act of 1988.

While the programs shared similar goals, jobs focuses more heavily on upgrading the education and job skills of welfare clients.

The study's authors, Judith M. Gueron and Edward Pauly, found that the pre-jobs programs reaped savings that exceeded their cost, and that one of the most successful--the "Saturated Work Initiative Model" in San Diego--saved as much as $3 for every $1 invested.

Contrary to common assumptions that such programs would yield only short-term gains in the employment and earnings of welfare recipients, the study also showed that program gains lasted at least three years.

But the authors cautioned that the pre-jobs programs did not re4duce poverty, leaving a large number of people either on welfare or in low-wage jobs.

They also noted that the most disadvantaged, long-term welfare clients "did not have large or consistent earnings gains."

"It will be critical to learn whether jobs, with its greater investment in increasing poor people's educational achievement and occupational skills, does better," they said.

Copies of the report, "From Welfare to Work," can be ordered from the Russell Sage Foundation, Publications Department, 112 East 64th St., New York, N.Y. 10021. The cost is $12.95 for paper and $34.95 for cloth; postage is $3 for the first copy and 50 cents for each additional copy.

The Education Department's office of bilingual education and minority-languages affairs says it will seek to redirect the bilingual-education research agenda away from the question of whether bilingual education works and toward studying successful approaches and techniques.

In a recent report to the Congress and the President on the condition of bilingual education in the United States, obemla officials said that research has centered on the efficacy of bilingual education and its various methodologies "for too many years."

"Enough is known to identify effective, even exemplary programs, to determine why they work, and to use this information to improve other programs," the officials said.

In its report, the bilingual-education office also said it planned to build on President Bush's "America 2000" plan with initiatives designed to help prepare limited-English proficient youngsters for school, and to keep l.e.p. high-school students from dropping out.

The report said obemla also intends to emphasize the connection between English and other subjects, and to complete a thorough assessment of developmental bilingual-education programs that could increase the percentage of American students who can speak more than one language.

Copies of The Condition of Bilingual Education in the Nation can be obtained by writing obemla, U.S. Education Department, 330 C St., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20202; or by calling (202) 732-5706.

Web Only

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login | Register
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories