Education Gets Increases In Other Agencies
President Bush's massive budget proposal includes increases not just for Department of Education programs, but also for related services for children and families overseen by other federal agencies.
School programs funded under the Health and Human Services, Justice, and Interior departments would receive increases ranging from minuscule to substantial in the plan Mr. Bush unveiled April 9. Head Start, mathematics and science education, and school safety, among other programs, would get more money for the next fiscal year under the Bush plan.
"The president is increasing his investment in children not only in our budget at HHS, but throughout his overall agenda for America, crossing over several agencies," Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy G. Thompson said in remarks last week at a Boys and Girls Club here.
The proposed budget for fiscal 2002 does not include increases as large as those seen under the Clinton administration, at least in part to help pay for President Bush's proposed tax cut. Mr. Thompson praised what he perceives to be the plan's fiscal thriftiness.
"The president's budget is responsive to children and families who need a helping hand, while being responsible to the taxpayers who offer that hand," he added. "Overall, the president's budget request asks for $2.9 billion in increased spending for children—a strong combination of adding to existing programs and investing in new ones to support children who are at risk of being left behind under current policies."
Under the HHS budget, Mr. Bush proposed a $125 million increase—about 2 percent—for the $6.2 billion Head Start program, the flagship early-childhood-education initiative that he has also proposed revamping and moving to the Education Department. The increase would serve only as a cost-of-living adjustment, not increase the enrollment of 916,000 youngsters currently participating in the program, according to HHS. Mr. Bush also called for several new HHS programs to help children and families in crisis, including:
- $33 million for a maternity Group Homes program. Teenage mothers and their children who cannot live with their own families because of abuse or neglect would be provided with safe and nurturing environments, according to the proposal.
- A $64 million program to strengthen the role of fathers in their children's lives by providing grants to faith-based and community groups that help unemployed or low-income fathers. It also would provide grants to programs designed to promote successful parenting and strengthen marriage.
- A $67 million program, Mentoring Children of Prisoners, to counsel and work with families to maintain the bond between parents and children during a parent's imprisonment.
Within the Department of Justice budget, Mr. Bush called for hiring 1,500 more school guards, at a cost of $180 million, for the upcoming year, building on the Community Oriented Policing Services program first pushed by Mr. Clinton. In the three years since the federal government began providing money, the Justice Department has awarded $252.6 million in grants to hire and train more than 2,250 school officers. Curtis Lavarello, the executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers, said his membership was greatly encouraged that the Bush administration chose to continue federal funding for the locally run program. Mr. Bush called for cuts in other Clinton-initiated programs to hire police in communities.
"We've certainly seen an increase in the number of officers going into schools" since the federal government began providing funds to local agencies, Mr. Lavarello said. "We've seen a number of incidents that probably would have been the CNN story-of-the-night if it weren't for these officers."
Money for Math, Science
President Bush also has asked for $200 million for a new math and science partnership to be coordinated by the National Science Foundation. The program would bring together scientists, engineers, and mathematicians to work with teachers and school administrators to improve teaching and strengthen math and science curricula.
Of those funds, $90 million would be new money, while $110 million would be redirected from other NSF education programs with similar objectives.
The partnerships "will help both K-12 students and their teachers reach higher performance standards," said NSF Director Rita Colwell.
But Gerald Wheeler, the executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, said that while the partnership is a good idea, much more money is needed. Last year, the National Commission on Mathematics and Science Education, led by former Democratic Sen. John Glenn of Ohio, reported that the nation needs about $5 billion to bolster recruitment and professional development for math and science teachers. ("Effort To Recruit Math, Science Teachers Urged," Oct. 4, 2000.)
"The one challenge is that $200 million is not nearly enough to achieve the level of reform mentioned in the Glenn report," Mr. Wheeler said.The Bureau of Indian Affairs, an agency within the Interior Department, would receive modest increases to build and renovate schools serving American Indian students. Its school construction budget would increase just $162,000, to $292.5 million. But Mr. Bush wants a 9 percent increase for a related, $148 million program that addresses health and safety concerns at existing Indian school facilities.
Vol. 20, Issue 31, Pages 32-33