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Math, Science Aid To Be Protected in Expansion Plan

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States and school districts would be required to continue funding at current levels math and science programs supported by the Eisenhower Mathematics and Science Program under a compromise proposal that would broaden the program's focus to cover professional-development projects in a variety of disciplines.

The proposed compromise has gained the support of the Clinton Administration and key education groups that had opposed the Administration's plan to broaden the program's scope.

The measure will be offered by Rep. Tom Sawyer, D-Ohio, when the House Subcommittee on Elementary, Secondary, and Vocational Education meets this week to mark up its version of the massive Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

"This expands broadly into the other areas but doesn't jeopardize'' mathematics and science programs, Mr. Sawyer said at a news conference last week.

The Administration proposed a three-tiered funding structure that would have set aside a certain amount of money for math and science educators depending on how much money was appropriated for the broader program.

Groups such as the Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and the National Science Teachers Association had feared that the plan would effectively clamp spending ceilings on math and science programs. (See Education Week, Oct. 27, 1993.)

Those organizations, as well as the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English, have endorsed the Sawyer amendment. Organizations representing other disciplines are reviewing it.

'Maintaining Funding'

The Clinton Administration has also signed on.

"It pretty closely parallels our proposal,'' said Tom Wolanin, the deputy assistant secretary for legislation and Congressional affairs.

Like the Administration's proposal, the amendment would require states and school districts to submit plans outlining how they would use the money, which is to be distributed based on school enrollment and poverty rates.

Under the amendment, they would have to explain how their plan has "maintained funding'' for math and science programs.

By setting a relatively high funding ceiling of $700 million, the amendment effectively endorses a related Administration proposal to eliminate the popular Chapter 2 block grant, an idea that aides say is opposed by a majority of subcommittee members.

"Chapter 2 is so popular among local administrators it's hard to get rid of,'' said John F. Jennings, the education counsel for the Education and Labor Committee.

The Administration proposed "merging'' Chapter 2 and the Eisenhower program into the new professional-development program.

As the subcommittee prepared last week to mark up its E.S.E.A. bill, panel members had reached agreement on a large portion of the legislation. (See Education Week, Jan. 19, 1994.)

Aides said that the most contentious issues, which will be debated at the markup, are the status of Chapter 2 and proposed changes in the Chapter 1 funding formula.

Meanwhile, the Subcommittee on Select Education and Civil Rights last week approved by a voice vote reauthorization language for the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, which will be offered as an amendment when the E.S.E.A. is considered by the full Education and Labor Committee.

The amendment would add "safe schools'' activities as an allowable use of program funds, but would make no other major changes in current law, rejecting several Administration proposals.

Instead of authorizing states to set aside 20 percent of the funds for community-based activities, as proposed, the amendment would require districts to spend 21 percent of their funds on such activities.

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