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Record $32.3-Billion Budget for E.D. Includes $767 Million for America 2000

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WASHINGTON--President Bush last week unveiled a $1.52-trillion budget for fiscal year 1993 that includes $32.3 billion for Education Department program.

The proposed $1.6-billion increase would be the largest for any domestic federal agency and one of the largest ever for the department.

But $767 million of that total was proposed for a new private-school voucher plan and other parts of the Administration's America 2000 education strategy--which have already been largely rejected by the Congress.

The choice provision, which the Administration is promoting as a "G.I. Bill" or Pell Grant for parents, would receive $500 million. (See related story, page 1 .)

The remaining $267 million would go toward the creation of innovative schools, academies for teachers and administrators, merit schools, alternative teacher-certification programs, and another choice program for low-income families.

Last year Mr. Bush asked for $690 million for essentially the same programs. The Congress sot aside $100 million for new programs authorized by April 1, 1992, but lawmakers are on track to approve legislation that bears only passing resemblance to the President's proposal.

The Administration also called for a 64 percent increase for research and assessment, which would hike spending from $148.2 million to $243.4 million.

Pell Grants are slated for a $1.2 billion increase, of which $332 million would be used to make up a funding shortfall in the current fiscal year.

The largest hike for an existing education program would go to Head Start, which is administered and funded by the Department of Health and Human Services. The budget calls for funding it at $2.8 billion, a $600-million increase.

Other Education Department programs did not fare as well. The Chapter 1 compensatory education program, for example, would receive only a $124-million increase, most of which would come in the form of concentration grants for schools in particularly impoverished areas.

The Administration also proposed eliminating a number of programs, most of which had been targets in previous years.

Radical Changes

In announcing Mr. Bush's education budget, Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander said it "continues the President's emphasis on radically changing our education system."

Education lobbyists expressed disappointment that most of the new funding would go to new programs that the Congress apparently does not favor.

"The federal government's role ought to be significantly greater than it is, but first things first. A level playing field should be the federal government's objective," said Richard Kruse, vice president of the Committee for Education Funding and the director of government relations for the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

He added, however: "I'm inclined to look at the President's budget in a more generic way. If he wants to spend $1.6 billion more on education, that's great, then let's go through the appropriations process."

Higher Education

In his budget, the President sought to meet the Congress half way on student financial aid programs.

Over all, aid programs would receive $13.7 billion, a 17 percent increase over fiscal 1992.

Mr. Bush proposed increasing the maximum Pell Grant award from $2,400 to $3,700. The Congress is considering bills to extend the Higher Education Act that make similar, albeit bolder, moves.

Like the reauthorization bills, the President's budget also call for increasing limits on Stafford Student Loans, from $2,625 to $3,500 for first- and second-year undergraduates, and from $4,000 to $5,000 for other undergraduates.

The budget also includes a proposal, offered last year by the Administration and rejected by the Congress, to provide 340,000 $500 scholarships to Pell Grant recipients who rank in the top 10 percent of their high-school class or score high on national tests.

Education Research

Educational research and improvement was another big winner in the President's budget request.

Funding for research and development centers, regional education laboratories, the Education Resources Information Center system, and field-initiated research would increase from $71 million to $115! million.

Diane S. Ravitch, head of the department's research arm, said most of the increase would support the National Council on Education Standards and Testing, as well as states and independent organizations working to develop national standards.

Funding for the National Center for Education Statistics would increase from $47.3 million to $63.6 million, while funds for the National Assessment of Educational Progress would increase from $29.9 million to $64.8 million, reflecting several new state-by-state assessments that are on NAEP'S agenda.

Gerald Sroufe, director of government and professional liaison for the American Educational Research Association, praised the increases but said it is too early to tell exactly where the money would be used.

"It's a hell of a package, but I want to see what's inside the box," he said.

The Administration also would raise spending for the Eisenhower Mathematics and Science Programs, from $16 million to $56 million, and would restore funding for the Blue Ribbon Schools program, which was eliminated last year.

Over all, the budget seeks a total of $768 million for precollegiate math- and science-education programs under nearly a dozen agencies, an increase of $117 million over fiscal 1992.

Other Programs

In contrast to the large increases for research and student aid, the budget holds the line on other programs.

Chapter 1 basic grants would remain level at $5.5 billion, while Even Start would receive an increase of $20 million, to $90 million. The President also proposed:

  • Reducing funding for impact aid, from $772 million to $532 million.
  • Decreasing Chapter 2 funding from $474 million to $465 million.
  • Increasing spending for bilingual and immigrant education, from $225 million to $234 million.
  • Increasing spending for special education from $2.85 billion to $2.94 billion.
  • Increasing vocational and adult education spending from $1.44 billion to $1.45 billion.
  • Consolidating the Two programs into a $269 million precollege-outreach grant program.

The President also proposed eliminating funding for the Perkins Direct Loan program, State Student Incentive Grants, Chapter 1 rural technical-assistance centers, Follow Through, and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Asbestos abatement in schools, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, also was slated for termination.

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