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Goals 2000 Budget Plan Favors State Aid, Goals Panel

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Education Department officials have announced that the National Education Goals Panel and the two new boards that will set academic and occupational-skills standards will receive a total of $8 million in 1994, and that development of model national opportunity-to-learn standards and model assessments will not begin until next spring.

When Congress appropriated $105 million for fiscal 1994 activities under the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, the law was not yet enacted. Lawmakers did not specify how much should go to particular programs, effectively allowing the department to allocate funds.

The bulk of the money, $87.4 million, will be funneled to states and districts to support development of school-improvement plans, the activity that is the heart of President Clinton's Goals 2000 strategy.

The goals panel will receive $3 million in fiscal 1994, the maximum authorized in the Goals 2000 law. Most of it will be used for drafting progress reports, holding conferences, and developing materials for local activists, said the panel's executive director, Ken Nelson.

The National Educational Standards and Improvement Council, which will develop model standards for student performance and curriculum content as well as certify standards and assessments that states submit, was allotted $2 million. The National Skill Standards Board, which will develop standards for occupational training, is to receive $3 million.

"There's a lot of pressure to get moving'' on the issues the panels will address, and officials "wanted to insure adequate resources to take on a lot of things in this first year,'' Michael Cohen, an adviser to Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, said last week.

Second-Year Plans

The skills board will be financed through the Labor Department starting in 1995. The newly announced funding for the other two panels is to last through 1995; they will submit separate budgets as independent agencies for fiscal 1996.

The Administration has requested $700 million for other Goals 2000 activities in 1995, about $666 million of which it proposes to devote to reform grants, although many observers say that such a large increase is unlikely.

The 1994 appropriations bill required the department to set aside $5 million in Goals 2000 funds for education-technology grants to states that include technology programs in their reform plans.

Of the remaining $4.6 million, $300,000 will pay for reviews of state plans, while $2.15 million is slated for special assistance to urban or rural districts with many poor or limited-English-proficient students, an activity the Administration has requested $17 million for in 1995. The final $2.15 million is to be spent on dissemination and unspecified technical assistance.

Officials decided to wait until spring 1995 to make grants to consortia to develop model opportunity-to-learn standards and model assessments, an effort the Administration has requested $7 million for in fiscal 1995, which starts Oct. 1.

The department has also requested $8 million in 1995 for technical assistance to states and districts to help them achieve "a greater degree'' of financial equity.

Mr. Cohen said the department had expected the finance-equity program to be part of the pending Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization, rather than Goals 2000, and did not expect to fund it this year. He also said the department is not ready to make opportunity-standards grants, and so waiting for 1995 funds to be available will not delay the effort.

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