Now That the Dust Has Settled: A Box Score on Education Bills

November 07, 1990 5 min read

Information for this story was gathered by Washington Editor Julie A. Miller and Staff Writers Ellen Flax, Lonnie Harp, Mark Walsh, and Peter West.

Several education-related bills, including legislation to aid mathematics and science education and to promote community service among youths, were rushed to final passage in the waning hours of the 101st Congress.

Other bills died for lack of time, most notably legislation to amend the Job Training Partnership Act, which observers say may not be revived in the next session.

The science bill, HR 996, includes two scholarship programs from a bill that originated in the House Science and Technology committee; another scholarship program originally proposed by President Bush; and miscellaneous provisions from S 2114, a wide-ranging bill sponsored by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts.

The bill authorizes $122.9 mil lion in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, with spending to rise to $194.5 million in fiscal 1993. It was approved on voice votes in both the House and the Senate.

The measure creates three scholarship programs, each of which would provide $5,000 a year to winners: a “National Science Scholars’’ program proposed by the President, for top high-school seniors intending to study science; “Robert Noyce Scholarships,” for undergraduates willing to commit to teaching precollege math or science; and a program for undergraduates planning to pursue postgraduate work or to work for the government or an American business.

The bill also establishes a national clearinghouse and provides funding for regional consortia to collect and disseminate information on math and science education; provides grants to museums for educational programs, particularly those aimed at elementary-school students; and offers grants to school districts for “systemwide reforms,” such as improved curricula, advanced teacher training, or restructuring.

Higher-education provisions include fellowships and grant pro grams designed to increase the number of women and minorities who want to become professors.

A Senate provision calling for an interagency council to improve cooperation between agencies with science-education programs was dropped, but the bill mandates a report on federal activity and coordination.

Also receiving final approval before the Congress adjourned Oct. 27 were:

A measure that encourages school-age children and young adults to participate in community-service programs, S 650.

The bill authorizes $287 million over the next three years for a grant program to states to expand or implement community-service and “service learning” programs for students in elementary and schools, and for out-of-school youths. Young people between the ages of 16 and 25 can also receive vouchers of up to $5,000 for each year of full-time service to be applied to educational costs.

The reauthorization of the Stew art B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act through 1993, HR 3789 and S 2863. The bill removes barriers preventing homeless children from attending school, and earmarks $50 million for the extra costs of evaluating and providing services for homeless children.

The Copyright Remedy Clarification Act, HR 3045, which strips public schools and other state entities of their immunity from copy right lawsuits.

A coalition of education organizations had opposed the bill out of fear that it would spur copyright holders to seek damages for copyright infringement.

The reauthorization of the asbestos-loan and -grants program, S 1893.

The bill authorizes $200 million a year for the program and directs the Environmental Protection Agency to tell schools that they are not required to remove asbestos. The bill also strengthens training requirements for asbestos workers.

The Environmental Education Act, S 3176.

The measure establishes an office of environmental education at the EPA to manage teacher-training programs, to award grants of as much as $150,000 to exemplary school-based environmental-education programs, and to distribute awards for excellence in environmental education.

The bill authorizes $5 million a year for the grant program.

Measures that would expand cur rent anti-drug education programs and strengthen drug-free school zones.

The provisions, which were included in an omnibus anti-crime bill, S 3266, would increase penal ties for crimes committed in drug- free school zones, provide more money for training teachers, counselors, and other school workers, and authorizes $15 million to expand DARE, an anti-drug program that brings police officers into the classroom.

One major education bill, a wide- ranging omnibus package, met its death in the Senate late last month. (See story, page 17.)

Other education-related bills died for lack of time, including ambitious efforts to overhaul the JTPA

The Senate began work early in 1989 on a bill that would have given the training law a greater focus on youths and basic-skills competency. But a dispute over the funding for mula held up S 543 for more than a year until a hasty, half-hearted effort was made to attach a compromise to an appropriations bill during the final days of the 101st Congress.

The House bill, HR 2039, approved earlier this year, was similar to the Senate bill. (See Education Week, Sept. 12, 1990.)

But its funding formula was different, and House lawmakers refused to agree to the last-minute compromise worked out among senators. There was no time for a conference, and the bill died.

Observers say it is hard to predict whether the next Congress will be willing to embrace similar reforms.

The retirement of Representative Augustus F. Hawkins, Democrat of California, who sponsored the House amendments, and the resig nation of Secretary of Labor Elizabeth H. Dole, a strong Administration voice for the reforms, means both will be absent from next year’s effort. The chief author of the Senate plan, Paul Simon, Democrat of Illinois, is up for re-election this week.

But rather than new faces, some observers said new JTPA plans may be dictated by changing economic conditions, as higher unemployment statistics reflect a renewed need for short-term training.

“This program has been one that has focused on unemployment numbers, and unemployment is definitely going up,” said Larry Jones, associate legislative director for the National Association of Counties. “Members [of the Congress] pay attention to the winds of time, and I thing that’s what we’re in for over the next few months.”

Other bills that died with the closing of the 101st Congress include:

A measure that would have curtailed federal funding to states that did not prohibit the sale of tobacco to minors, HR 5041.

The bill, which died in the House, would have limited growth in federal aid to states that did not adopt such a ban. The bill would have also required stronger warning labels on cigarettes and would have prohibited advertisements for tobacco products within 750 feet of a school.

Several bills that would have required schools in areas designated as “radon priority areas” by the EPA to test for the gas, S 657, S 1689, and HR 3370.

The bills were adopted by the Senate but died in the House.

A version of this article appeared in the November 07, 1990 edition of Education Week as Now That the Dust Has Settled: A Box Score on Education Bills