State Boards Voice Dismay Over Reagan Pollicies

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Sacramento, Calif--An alarmed California State Board of Education, frustrated by the Reagan Administration's first budget cuts in education and by predictions of severe cuts in fiscal year 1983, fought back with a resolution blasting federal education policies.

Approved at the board's meeting this month in an atmosphere of bitterness and harsh language, the resolution asked the Administration to "reconsider its budget proposals and provide adequate levels of funding for federal aid to education."

The Administration wants "to gut federal aid to education and take it apart piece by piece," William Gilbert, one of several outspoken board members, charged. "We need to be reminded of this as we go down the road, and quit treating these people [the Reagan Administration] as people who are sympathetic to us, who are trying to help us. They are trying to kill us, and we ought to recognize that."

'Orchestrated Move'

Lewis P. Bohler Jr. maintained that the Administration's education policy is "an orchestrated move to turn over leadership to those who can afford private schools. It is creating," he added, "a nation of the elite, for the elite, and by the elite."

In addition to its appeal to the Reagan Administration to re-examine its funding policies, the resolution urged that Congress "not enact any legislation which would reflect any further reduction of federal assistance to our schools."

To bolster its protest with specific details, the board cited federal funding that California schools have already lost or would lose if recommendations reportedly made by the Office of Management and Budget (omb) were to be accepted by President Reagan and the Congress:

An actual cut of $125 million for school year 1981-82.

A cut of "at least" $26 million for school year 1982-83. This figure is based on what the board calls "current projections for federal education assistance."

A cut of an additional $105 million for the 1983-84 school year. The board based this figure on the assumption that current omb suggestions, as reported to the board by the California Department of Education, would prevail, with Presidential and Congressional support.

Education Assistance Reduced

"If these budget proposals are enacted," the resolution said, "California will see its federal education assistance reduced from over $1 billion in school year 1980-81 to less than $500 million by school year 1983-84."

The board said "such drastic cuts in federal assistance to California schools will mean the reduction or elimination of services to over 400,000 children (out of a total of 1.5 million now served) and the elimination of funding to pay the salaries of over 30,000 instructional personnel."

Wilson C. Riles, state superintendent of public instruction, repeated this charge Dec. 13 at the annual joint conference in San Francisco of the Association of California School Administrators and the California School Boards Association.

Two days earlier at the same conference, the President's counselor, Edwin Meese III, said he did not know of any plans to cut federal aid to education by 50 percent or other planned cuts in education that could be considered "drastic." (A report of Mr. Meese's speech appears on page 1.)

Two other resolutions adopted by the board urged amendments to the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act of 1981, which goes into effect on July 1, 1982.

Since the statute "contains ambiguities, confusion, and lack of clarity in some provisions," the resolutions said, Congress should amend the legislation "to enhance state and local flexibility in implementation of the act."

Vol. 01, Issue 15

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