Education Gets Millions in Last-Minute ‘Christmas Tree’ Bill

By James Hertling — October 17, 1984 4 min read

Washington--In the middle of the night on Oct. 3, as the 98th Congress neared adjournment, a group of lobbyists and Senators turned the reauthorization for Head Start programs into a legislative “Christmas tree” bearing more than $200 million in new education initiatives.

The bill, which House members also approved last Tuesday, includes provisions for the establishment of a Center for Educational Excellence at Indiana University; a $96-million fund to encourage top students to become teachers; a $24-million program of federal merit scholarships; and a $100-million fund to train school administrators.

The $7-billion Head Start bill, S 2565, was “the last train leaving the station” for education bills that otherwise would have died, said one lobbyist. Among them were:

$6 million toward the construction of a Center for Excellence in Education at Indiana University in Bloomington, a proposal made by Senator Dan Quayle, Republican of Indiana. An aide said Senator Quayle is likely to request the funds for the center next year in the fiscal 1985 supplemental appropriations bill.

The center would be used as a “national research and training resource” for elementary- and secondary-school teachers and administrators, according to the bill. Among other tasks, the Indiana center would work to develop educational computer software, improve teaching techniques, and upgrade elementary- and secondary-school management, according to Senator Quayle’s aide.

Funds for college scholarships for 10,000 top high-school students who intend to become teachers, and a $10-million fellowship program for teachers, allowing them to take a paid one-year sabbatical.

The bill authorizes expenditures of $5,000 annually from fiscal 1986 through 1990 for each of the 10,000 prospective teachers who would receive these “Carl D. Perkins Scholarships,” named for the long-time chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee who died last summer.

Recipients would be required “within the 10-year period after completing the postsecondary education ... to teach, for a period of Continued on Page X

Education Department Gets Millions in Last-Minute Bill

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not less than two years for each year for which assistance was received.” The obligation could be satisfied by teaching in public elementary and secondary schools and programs or by teaching handicapped children, among other possibilities.

The provision authorizes fellowships--not to “exceed the average national salary of public-school teachers for which data are available"--for one public- or private-school teacher in each Congressional district, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and other territories. The recipients in each state will be selected by a seven-member state-wide panel.

Senator Orrin G. Hatch, chairman of the Labor and Human Resources Committee, sponsored the measure, which was strongly supported by the American Federation of Teachers.

The measure is similar to legislation passed by the House, HR 4477, known as the Talented Teachers Act. (See Education Week, Aug. 22, 1984.)

National merit scholarships of $1,500 for 10 college-bound students a year in each Congressional district, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

According to Sally Laird, an aide to Senator Robert C. Byrd, the West Virginia Democrat who sponsored the measure, the program is not authorized until 1986 so that state education agencies have time to deter3mine the criteria for eligibility. “This is not a financing mechanism but purely an award for merit at the secondary level,” Ms. Laird added.

Under the statute, recipients would have to meet the excellence criteria as determined by the state, be high-school graduates or have an equivalency diploma, and have been accepted in a postsecondary institution.

A $100-million, five-year program of grants to states to establish technical-assistance and training centers for school administrators, “with particular emphasis upon increasing access for minorities and women to administrative positions.”

Recipients of contracts under this award, among other things, “must assure the involvement of private-sector managers and executives in the conduct of their programs,” according to the bill.

The provision was offered by Senator John H. Chafee, Republican of Rhode Island.

Head Start

The bill to which the education measures were attached reauthorizes Head Start programs for disadvantaged preschoolers at $1 billion for fiscal 1985 and $1.2 billion for fiscal 1986. The program has received slightly under $1 billion in each of the past two years.

Follow Through, a continuation of Head Start programs for kindergartners and 1st graders that is opposed by the Reagan Administration, would receive $10 million for fiscal 1985 and $7.5 million for fiscal 1986.

Without the new authorization, Follow Through, which received $14 million last fiscal year--but $85 million in fiscal 1980--would have died, according to Gordon A. Raley, staff director of the House subcommittee on human resources.

President Reagan was expected to receive the bill by the end of last week; he has 10 days to sign it, according to a White House spokesman.

Gregory A. Humphrey, an aft lobbyist, said he did not anticipate a veto because of the favorable publicity preschool programs have recently received.

Conservation Corps

In other action affecting the young, lawmakers last week resurrected an old concept to create the American Conservation Corps, a new program that would employ jobless youths between the ages of 16 and 25 and provide summer jobs for those between 15 and 21 in national parks and Indian lands.

The House approved the Senate-passed version of the bill last Tuesday, authorizing $50 million in fiscal 1985, $75 million in 1986, and $100 million in 1987.

The Reagan Administration had strongly opposed and eliminated the Young Adult Conservation Corps, a similar program that was part of the Comprehensive Education and Training Act, which is better known as ceta.

A version of this article appeared in the October 17, 1984 edition of Education Week as Education Gets Millions in Last-Minute ‘Christmas Tree’ Bill