Former U.S. Secretary of Education Shirley M. Hufstedler warned last week that “the budget struggles on the Potomac right now will have very serious consequences for every aspect of the American educational systems not only in this decade, but well into the next century.”
“To give $1.6 trillion to the military, appropriations for the federal education programs are being systematically stripped,” Ms. Hufstedler said in an address at Stanford University, where she is a visiting professor of law. “Savage cuts were taken last year in programs designed to help school districts meet the needs of the most disadvantaged youngsters in the country.”
“The most acute military need is not hardware, it is human resources,” she said.
Ms. Hufstedler, who was the first secretary appointed to the Cabinet-level department established during the Carter Administration, claimed that the Reagan Administration is “abandoning” minority children--who, she said, will make up 75 percent of “all the children who will reach age 18 by 1999.”
“These are the same children who must overwhelmingly provide the personnel for the armed forces, the labor force whose work must support an aging America.” The budget cuts in education programs will result in “unemployment, welfare dependency, and crime,” she said.
Ms. Hufstedler also suggested it was unwise to cut funding for American education at the same time that “the investment in education” in the U.S.S.R. is increasing. “We have an acute shortage of secondary-school teachers qualified to teach mathematics, science, computer technology, and languages,” she said. “About 100,000 students in the secondary schools in the United States now receive calculus in high school. All students attending high school in the U.S.S.R. now receive three full years of mathematics before graduation.”
She urged the audience not to wring their hands, but to “ring doorbells” to urge a reversal of the Administration’s reductions in education programs.