Administration Says It Lacks Funds To Support Goals Panel

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SEATTLE--Bush Administration officials have informed the National Education Goals Panel that they do not have the money to carry out the panel's ambitious assessment agenda. The White House will have to forge an accord with members of the Congress to obtain such funding, the officials acknowledged.

That acknowledgment signals that lawmakers may have succeeded in using their control of the federal purse strings to gain influence over the goals panel's worker to retard it.

At a meeting after the National Governors' Association conference here last month, Milten Goldberg, the Education Department's director of research, told the panel that while the Administration had requested funds to support its America 2000 education initiative and the goals panel's activities, "at my last reading, I understand Congress is less than enthusiastic about providing money for these efforts."

Michael W. Kirst, a Stanford University professor who spoke at the gathering on behalf of the National Academy of Education, an independent committee of researchers, added: "The N.A.E. supports your agenda, but we don't see that the funding exists to carry it out."

Federal Aid Said Essential

Pending appropriations measures would restrict the use of federal research funds in an effort to prevent the Administration from carrying out its education policies without Congressional approval, leaving no more than $3 million in discretionary funds. (See Education Week, July 31, 1991.)

President Bush had sought $5.3 million to support the goals panel-which was formed by the Administration and the N.G.A. to monitor progress toward the goals they adopted in 1990--as well as additional increases in research funding.

Panel members here discussed seeking foundation grants, and Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander suggested that states contribute some of the money. But governors on the panel said federal funds are essential, even if the proposed national tests are developed by regional consortia of states.

Such a structure was endorsed last month by the National Council on Educational Standards and Testing, which is charged with reporting to the goals panel, the Congress, and the Administration on national testing.

Several governors said they had sought assurances of federal support in a closed-door meeting with Mr. Alexander.

The Secretary said in July that he was not concerned about the appropriators' actions, but he told the goals panel and reporters here that he would seek Congressional consent for the development of the national standards and tests envisioned by the panel.

"The main problem is not a lack of money, but a lack of agreement by those who appropriate it that this is a good idea," Mr. Alexander said after the meeting. "To be blunt about it, some members of Congress are afraid of a national exam."

However, the Secretary also said he was confident that he could "develop a consensus" on the testing issue through the standards council, which includes several influential members of the Congress.

"I think they will be comfortable with $5 million for a test as long as we protect [the National Assessment of Educational Progress] and as long as it is voluntary," Mr. Alexander said.

Romer Seeking 'Reconciliation'

The standards council was created legislatively in June after Mr. Alexander reached a compromise with lawmakers that retained the membership of a council named by the goals panel, added Congressional appointees, and charged the council with examining the wisdom of national testing as well as how to implement it. (See Education Week, June 19, 1991.)

Gov. Roy Romer of Colorado, the outgoing chairman of the goals panel, said he, too, was placing his hopes for consensus on the council. Mr. Romer, a Democrat, has sought a compromise that would satisfy lawmakers who complain that a goals panel made up of Administration officials and governors is insufficiently independent. But the Governor acknowledges that he cannot muster enough votes on the panel to change its makeup.

Members of the Congress "are working on that council," he said. "That's where I'm concentrating my efforts at reconciliation."

At the meeting last month, Mr. Romer was succeeded as chairman by Gov. Carroll A. Campbell of South Carolina, a Republican.

Vol. 11, Issue 01, Page 38

Published in Print: September 4, 1991, as Administration Says It Lacks Funds To Support Goals Panel
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