Title 1 Coalition To Step Up Lobbying

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Members of the Coalition to Save Title I will intensify their lobbying efforts this month with a "national day of action" to inform members of Congress of the amount of Title I money their districts would lose under the Reagan Administration's 1983 budget proposal.

The "grassroots" lobbying effort, scheduled for March 16, will be ''the first shot in a very intense 15-day period" on Capitol Hill, according to Bruce Hunter, a legislative specialist for the American Association of School Administrators.

'Make the Case'

He said the coalition, which includes more than 30 education, civil-rights, child-advocacy, and parents' organizations, will ask members to gather in Washington and meet with their Congressional representatives "to make the case" against any cuts in the federal education program for disadvantaged children.

To assist them in stating their case, coalition members have surveyed about 5,000 school districts to determine by Congressional district the impact of the Administration's proposed reductions for the Title I program.

The Administration has proposed a $1.94-billion appropriation for Ti-tle I in fiscal 1983, a 31-percent reduction from its $2.4-billion level in fiscal 1982. The new cut would come on top of a 22-percent reduction in the 1982 federal support for the program.

"I think the Congress will look at this budget," Mr. Hunter said, ''and understand that they can't balance the budget by cutting $400 million from the Title I program. All they would be doing is destroying a good program."

An evaluation of the program, conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, found the 17-year-old effort to be so "successful" and "effective," that "a 15-year decline in educational achievement is beginning to be reversed, particularly among low-achieving groups."

The department study reported that Title I now serves 5.4 million children in 68 percent of the nation's public schools.

The Administration tried unsuccessfully last year to repeal the Ele-mentary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which created the program. Instead, Title I was retained as a categorical program and renamed Chapter I of the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act.

This year, the coalition is better prepared on the issues than last year, according to Mr. Hunter. But he added that "we face a much harder job organizing people," because the Title I program does not have its own organized constituency or "a ready-made lobby."

'Target List'

Mr. Hunter said coalition members have also compiled a "target list'' of House and Senate "boll weevils," conservative Democrats from the South, and "gypsy moths," moderate Republicans from the North and Midwest, whose support could be crucial in the coming months.

These members of the Congress provided the essential votes for the President's economic program last summer, and they are expected to decide the fate of pending budget bills.

"We're going to be asking the Congress to get back to the usual budget process and not vote on a total package," Mr. Hunter said. "We want education issues to be voted on in an education appropriations bill so that our issues get individual consideration instead of being lumped."

The coalition has already received some Congressional support, Mr. Hunter said.

Letter Initiated

More than 60 members of the House have joined in a "Dear Colleague" letter initiated by Carl D. Perkins, the Kentucky Democrat who chairs the education and labor committee, and Augustus F. Hawkins, Democrat of California.

"We cannot understand the ratio-nale for severely cutting a program which, according to all recent evaluations, has been extremely effective in improving the basic skills of educationally deprived children," the letter states. It urges House members "to reject any fiscal 1982 rescission requests and hold fast to the $3.4 billion authorized level" approved in the 1981 budget.

A similar petition is being circulated in the Senate.

Vol. 01, Issue 23

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