Reagan Budget Belies Statements Supporting Education, Union Says
Washington--Leaders of a major division of the afl-cio, who last week released a report criticizing the Reagan Administration's budget cuts in education, said they intend to offer the document to Democratic presidential candidates for use against the President in the 1984 election campaign.
The report, which examines the Administration's budget proposals for two education programs for the fiscal years 1982 through 1984, provides additional evidence that education is likely to be a major political issue among Congressional and Presidential candidates.
The issue has been prominent nationally since last April, when the National Commission on Excellence in Education released its report, "A Nation At Risk." Subsequent reports by other national commissions and speeches by President Reagan have helped to keep national attention on questions surrounding quality of the nation's schools and the proper role of federal government in education.
The report by the Public Employees Department (ped) of the afl-cio, ''The Three R's (Reagan, Rhetoric, and Reality), is an analysis of the effects of the Administration's vocational-education and compensatory-education budget proposals on each of the nation's 435 Congressional districts, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. The Administration's proposals are compared with actual funds approved by the Congress in specific program areas.
In releasing the report, Kenneth T. Blaylock, president of the ped, said: "Back in the spring, Education Secretary Terrel H. Bell was quoted as saying, 'Anybody that says the President is anti-education and against learning just hasn't looked at the record.' Since that time, we have taken a long, hard look at President Reagan's education budgets.
"In light of his budget cuts, plus Mr. Reagan's attempts to dismantle the U.S. Department of Education, we can only conclude that he is the most anti-education President this country has ever had."
Mr. Blaylock was joined at a press conference by Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and Rep. Paul Simon, Democrat of Illinois. Mr. Shanker serves as the secretary-treasurer of the ped
In addition to the political candidates, according to Thomas Fahey, spokesman for the organization, the report will be distributed to each of the ped's 33 union affiliates--including the aft More than two million workers at the federal, state, and local levels are members of the national labor organization.
The report argues that the President's "back-to-basics" crusade is designed "to shift public attention from his own abysmal record in the area of federal aid to education toward areas where he can speak with more openness and candor...."
In those areas--teacher pay, the length of the school day, and graduation requirements for high-school students--the President "can speak without regard for the financial implications of what he advocates," according to the report.
"But the reality is something else altogether," the report asserts. For the past three years, it says, the President's budget proposals have included funding cuts for major federal education programs.
The two federal programs examined in the report are Chapter 1 for disadvantaged children--formerly known as Title I--and vocational and adult education.
The report explains that the two programs were chosen because they "serve to further goals that are truly national in scope, and they are, therefore, properly the object of federal assistance."
The major findings contained in the budget analysis are:
Chapter 1. The President's request for a 45-percent reduction in funds for the program in the fiscal year 1982 would have meant services for nearly 1.2 million fewer children, the report explains. In the fiscal year 1983, the President's 48-percent reduction would have eliminated services for 2.2 million children, it says.
The Congress restored 25 percent of the funds the President targeted in fiscal 1982, and 62 percent in fiscal 1983.
During the coming fiscal year, an additional 1 million children would be denied program services if the Congress accepts the President's request for a 26-percent cut in funding, according to the report. (The Congress is still deliberating on the President's 1984 budget request.)
Vocational education. The President proposed a 25-percent reduction in federal support for vocational and adult education in fiscal 1982, according to the report, and a 49-percent cut in fiscal 1983. The Congress, however, limited the budget cuts for the program to 22 per-cent and 19 percent, respectively.
For fiscal 1984, the President has proposed a 53-percent reduction.
During last week's press conference to release the report, Mr. Shanker said, "This Administration has been indulged in its penchant for misrepresenting the facts about the goals and consequences of its education budget."
"In the face of such severe Chapter 1 budget cuts and service reductions," he added, "this Administration is misleading the American public by claiming no budget cuts and maintenance of service levels. Clearly, the reality belies the rhetoric."
Vol. 02, Issue 42