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Hispanic Caucus Unveils Chapter 1, Bilingual-Ed. Plan

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WASHINGTON--The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has introduced its proposal for amending the Chapter 1 and bilingual-education programs in the upcoming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Like the Clinton Administration's E.S.E.A. proposal, the caucus bill would target more Chapter 1 funds to areas with the most poor children and remove a provision that effectively excludes limited-English-proficient students from the largest federal program serving K-12 students.

The "equal access to education act of 1993'' was introduced as HR 3993 by Rep. Jose E. Serrano, D-N.Y., the chairman of the caucus, on behalf of the caucus's other 17 members.

The Chapter 1 law now includes a clause barring schools from providing services under the program to children whose educational deficiencies are due primarily to linguistic problems. To avoid the difficulty of proving that students' deficiencies are not due to their language status, schools often simply exclude L.E.P. students.

The bill echoes the Administration's proposal for revamping the Chapter 1 formula to better target poor children by delivering more funds through concentration grants and tightening rules governing districts' eligibility for those grants.

The caucus also proposed updating Census figures every two years to compensate for what they contend is an undercount of Hispanics. Chapter 1 allocations are based on Census counts of poor children, which are only made once a decade.

Title VII Proposal

Like the Administration's bill, the caucus proposal would alter Title VII, the federal bilingual-education program, to provide grants to upgrade the entire program of a school or district to meet the needs of L.E.P. students, as well as to start or enhance instructional programs specifically for those students.

The caucus also echoed the Administration's plan in proposing that states set performance standards for Chapter 1 students consonant with standards they have established for all students. But their bill would also require states to set controversial "opportunity to learn'' standards for school services in order to participate in Chapter 1.

The caucus bill would also:

  • Boost authorized spending for Chapter 1 to $8 billion and for Title VII to $400 million by fiscal 1995.
  • Provide more funds under both programs for teacher training.
  • Permit schools to use Chapter 1 resources to make schools the focal point for coordinated health and social services.
  • For the first time, allow community-based organizations to apply for Title VII grants.

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