Capital Digest: House Panel Approves Education Research Bill

May 27, 1992 3 min read

The House Education and Labor Committee last week approved by voice vote legislation to reauthorize--and reorganize--the Education Department’s research branch, after rejecting a Republican effort to give the President authority to appoint the members of a new board that would set research policy.

Republicans objected to provisions in HR 4014 that would allow education and research organizations to nominate board members, arguing that the panel would be captive to the education establishment.

But Representative Major R. Owens, the New York Democrat who chairs the Subcommittee on Select Education and is the bill’s primary author, said the G.O.P. proposal would defeat the purpose of establishing an independent policy-setting board--to prevent the politicization of research and give “stakeholders’’ a voice.

The amendment was defeated on a party-line voice vote.

Also defeated by voice vote was a Republican effort to strike language that would bar the department from aiding states in adopting curriculum frameworks, except through research laboratories.

The bill would bar the department from any standards or assessment activity not specifically authorized, and would authorize only testing research through the institute system established by the bill.

A separate bill approved by the panel last week would authorize work on standards, but not testing.

Two amendments adopted by voice vote would authorize a $30-million program to train teachers as “change agents,’' and mandate “a comprehensive, coordinated program of research in the area of teaching and teacher education.’'

The Senate last week approved an emergency spending bill that would provide $1.2 billion for summer youth programs this year, as well as $882 million for emergency cleanup of riot damage in Los Angeles and flood damage in Chicago.

The House had passed a bill including only the cleanup funds, which President Bush supports and has promised to designate as emergency funding--allowing it to be enacted without corresponding cuts or tax increases required by budget rules.

The Senate added $1.45 billion, which will be spent only if Mr. Bush also declares it to be emergency aid, something he is unlikely to do. It includes $700 million for summer youth-employment programs, and $250 each for summer education programs under Head Start and Chapter 1. An additional $250 million would be earmarked for the Bush Administration’s “weed and seed’’ program, which funds law-enforcement and social programs in inner cities.

Rita Esquivel has resigned as director of the Education Department’s office of bilingual education and minority-languages affairs, effective May 29.

Ms. Esquivel said in an interview that she wishes to return to the California school district where she had worked for 26 years before coming to the department. The Santa Monica-Malibu district had granted her several extensions of a leave of absence, she said, but “this time, they said I had to make up my mind.’'

She will direct an adult-education program for new immigrants.

The 1989 appointment of Ms. Esquivel, a career educator, was cheered by bilingual-education advocates as a sign that the Bush Administration would not continue Reagan Administration policies they viewed as hostile to their programs, and advocates have praised her tenure.

States would be required to enact and enforce measures barring the sale of tobacco products to anyone under age 18 under legislation that is nearing passage.

The measure was adopted May 12 by conferees reconciling differences in House and Senate bills to reauthorize a $1.5 billion block-grant program for substance-abuse efforts. States that do not comply could lose up to 40 percent of their block-grant funds.

Approval is expected by the Congress and President Bush.

A version of this article appeared in the May 27, 1992 edition of Education Week as House Panel Approves Education Research Bill