Reagan's Proposed Amendments Introduced in Senate
The Reagan Administration's proposed amendments to the Bilingual Education Act, which would permit a mix of educational approaches in meeting the needs of language-minority students, was introduced in the Senate last week.
S 2412, the "Bilingual Education Improvements Act of 1982," was introduced April 21 by Senator S.I. Hayakawa, Republican of California, and was expected to be the subject of discussions at a Senate subcommittee hearing April 23 and 26.
Under provisions of the Adminis-tration's bill, Title VII of the Bilingual Education Act of 1968 would be amended to permit a broad range of instructional approaches for "limited-English-proficient" students and to "target funding on projects which serve children whose usual language is not English."
It also would provide vocational training programs for non-English-speaking "out-of-school youth" and adults, and aid to nonprofit organizations and higher-education insti-tutions, in addition to students in elementary and secondary schools. Currently, only school districts are eligible for Title VII assistance.
In a letter accompanying the Administration's proposal, which authorizes $95 million for fiscal 1983, Education Secretary Terrel H. Bell said the changes are necessary "in a period of diminishing federal resources ... to focus the program more specifically." In fiscal 1982, Title VII programs received approximately $139 million.
The Administration's bill addresses a number of issues that have been raised since the publication of a series of controversial U.S. Education Department (ed) studies, one of which questioned continued "federal policy promoting transitional bilingual education without adequate evidence of its effectiveness."
A second report, also commissioned by the ed, asserts that only about one-third of the estimated 3.6 million children that experts claim need bilingual education actually do need it.
Drawing on the findings of those studies, Senator Walter D. Huddleston, Democrat of Kentucky, introduced a bill, S 2002, last November that would also amend Title VII to limit the length of time non-English-speaking students could spend in a federally sponsored bilingual-education program. Senator Huddleston's bill was co-sponsored by Senator Hayakawa.
Secretary Bell noted, in his letter to Congress, that the provisions of the Administration's bill "are consistent with our overall policy and also reflect some of the concerns in the Congress as indicated by proposed legislation (S. 2002)" and other committee reports.--S.G.F.