Democrats’ Alternative to Bush Package Calls For MajorFunding Increases

April 04, 1990 4 min read

By Julie A. Miller

Washington--An education package introduced by House Democrats last week as an alternative to President Bush’s education bill includes dramatically increased funding ceilings for several existing programs, as well as parts of pending literacy, teacher-training, and mathematics-and-science-education legislation.

The measure would also authorize more than $5 billion a year in new spending.

Representative Augustus F. Hawkins, the California Democrat who is chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, introduced HR 4379 March 26. It is the product of two weeks of consultations among Democratic lawmakers and staff members, following the Democrats’ move March 7 to postpone a vote on the President’s initiative, HR 1675.

Mr. Hawkins had reached an agreement with Representative Bill Goodling of Pennsylvania, the panel’s ranking Republican, on amendments that would have made the President’s package more palatable to the chairman, but the compromise was apparently not acceptable to other Democrats on the committee. (See Education Week, March 28, 1990.)

No markup has been scheduled yet, and aides said further action will be determined after the bills are discussed at a hearing this week. Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos is to testify on behalf of the Bush Administration.

Republicans, still angry at the Democrats’ move, are highly unlikely to support HR 4379, although it includes several of the President’s proposals, a Republican aide said.

“It’s a real question as to how serious the chairman is about this,’' the aide added. “I’m not sure he has the support of all his Democrats.”

In fact, five of the committee’s 21 Democrats were not listed as co-sponsors, most notably Representative William D. Ford of Michigan, who is expected to succeed Mr. Hawkins as chairman of the Education and Labor Committee next year.

Democratic aides said some missing members were simply unavailable at the time they were asked to sign on. And while Mr. Ford has some reservations about the bill, aides said, he will likely support it eventually.

Aides said Democrats are likely to offer amendments when and if the bill is marked up, including provisions allowing federal funding for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Such a provision, vehemently opposed by the Administration, was included in S 695, the version of the President’s bill passed by the Senate Feb. 7.

Special Populations Targeted

The Democrats’ proposal, the “equity and excellence in education implementation act,” says its aim is to achieve national education goals, and calls for a federal “commitment” to take on more of the burden of financing services for special populations, primarily by increasing spending on existing programs.

For example, it includes provisions from a pending bill to reauthorize Head Start that would increase the funding ceiling for the preschool program to $7.66 billion by 1994, which the sponsors estimate would serve all eligible 3- and 4-year-olds, as well as some 5-year-olds.

The bill also calls for serving all women and children eligible for the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children by 1994; serving all children eligible for Chapter 1 compensatory-education services by 1993, beginning with ainued on Page 39

Democrats Unveil Alternative to Bush’s Package $1-billion increase for 1991; and fulfilling the Congressional commitment to pay 40 percent of the cost of educating handicapped children.

The bill would also increase authorization levels for the Even Start program, dropout-prevention programs, and mathematics-and-science-education grants.

The bill includes amended versions of several Bush proposals, such as “merit schools,” which would be authorized at $150 million a year, rather than the requested $250 million.

Only Chapter 1 schools would be eligible, under the measure. In addition, funding would be contingent on appropriations for Chapter 1, and awards for private schools would be used to improve Chapter 1 services for their students.

It also includes slimmed-down versions of Bush proposals to aid historically black colleges, provide science scholarships for outstanding students, and give Presidential4awards to exemplary teachers.

As expected, the bill would drop Bush proposals for a magnet-schools program that could aid districts wanting to establish magnets for purposes other than desegregation, and for grants to states to set up alternative-certification programs for teachers.

Instead, HR 4379 would increase authorized spending on the existing mid-career teacher-training program from less than $1 million to $25 million.

The bill also contains several provisions from Mr. Hawkins’s $750-million teacher-training bill, HR 4130, authorizing $50 million a year for forgivable loans to prospective teachers; $100 million a year for grants to states for teacher-training programs at higher-education institutions; and $200 million a year for teacher-training academies.

Other Provisions

Other sections of the bill would:

Borrow provisions from science-education bills now pending in the Senate that would authorize grants to regional science and mathematics consortia and establish a National Clearinghouse for Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education.

Incorporate portions of HR 3123, a pending literacy bill, that could cost $2.7 billion a year.

Beef up student-aid programs by excluding the value of a family’s home, farm, or small business from aid calculations, and increasing spending authority for virtually all student-aid programs. It calls for increasing spending on Pell Grants by $1 billion a year.

Authorize an education summit that could be held by the Congress and governors without cooperation from the Administration.

Require the Education Department to prepare annual reports on the administration of education in each state and the impact of regulatory burdens imposed at the federal, state, and local levels, a plan Mr. Hawkins introduced in January as HR 3860.

A version of this article appeared in the April 04, 1990 edition of Education Week as Democrats’ Alternative to Bush Package Calls For MajorFunding Increases