Clinton Outlines Education Goals In Economic Plan

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WASHINGTON--President Clinton and Administration officials last week unveiled the outlines of a long-term strategy that calls for increasing federal spending on some education and child-welfare programs, but cutting others as part of a bid to reduce the federal budget deficit.

Mr. Clinton also hopes to launch programs this year to spur state and local school reform, create youth apprenticeships, and phase in a direct-loan student-aid program that would replace the existing loan program by 1997, Education Department officials said.

The President outlined his strategy for boosting the economy in both the short run and in the long term in a joint session of Congress last Wednesday.

Echoing the sentiment of many education lobbyists, Michael Edwards, the manager of federal relations for the National Education Association, said he viewed Mr. Clinton's blueprint as much more than an economic plan.

"It's a four-year budget and a long-term strategy,'' Mr. Edwards said. "It's the most comprehensive blueprint for the start of a new administration since the New Deal.''

While all of the N.E.A.'s priorities are not reflected in the plan, "education and children did emerge as a priority,'' he added.

The President's plan is divided into three parts: $30 billion in short-term spending to help revive the slowly recovering economy, long-term investment in programs he considers important to the nation's well-being and competitiveness, and deficit reduction. Education programs figure in each part of the plan.

"The package takes a holistic view of not only the economy, but of the tie between education'' and other social and human services, Terry Peterson, the counselor to Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, said at a briefing for reporters last week.

Short-Term Spending

As part of the short-term "stimulus'' package, the President proposed $2.76 billion in supplemental education spending in fiscal 1993, the current fiscal year.

A little more than $2 billion of that would cover Pell Grant shortfalls from fiscal years 1992 and 1993. The shortfalls, which resulted when student applications exceeded Administration and Congressional projections, are much higher than those facing appropriators in previous years.

"From now on, this Administration is liable for whatever shortfall is created,'' said Marshall S. Smith, who is on leave as dean of Stanford University's school of education and is acting as a consultant to Secretary Riley.

Mr. Smith and Mr. Peterson said the amount of 1993 Pell Grants will not be pared, although some lobbyists said Administration officials had told them that the maximum grant, $2,300 this year, is likely to be reduced for fiscal 1994.

An additional $1 billion would fund Chapter 1 and Head Start summer programs, and $235 million is slated for a one-time cushion for school districts that are to suffer reductions in Chapter 1 funding in fiscal 1993 as a result of demographic changes.

The compensatory-education program's formula relies on counts of child poverty made as part of the U.S. Census. As data from the 1990 Census replaces 1980 data this year, a dramatic shift in population from cx12p4 el-53lmajor Eastern cities to the West and South will cause Chapter 1 funding to shift in the same direction.

The education spending is considered a stimulus to the economy, Mr. Smith said, because it "serves to protect [teachers'] jobs.''

Investing in Children

Mr. Clinton's long-term investment plan also favors a range of children's programs.

One of the biggest proposed increases would boost Head Start spending from $2.8 billion in fiscal 1993 to $6.8 billion by fiscal 1997, a level the President said would provide services for all eligible 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds. He would begin with a $785 million increase in fiscal 1994.

The Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children would increase $984 million by fiscal 1996.

In the Education Department, officials said, Mr. Clinton is proposing a net increase of about $400 million for fiscal 1994 above the spending level needed to keep pace with inflation, which would add more than $1 billion to the budget. By fiscal 1997, the President plans to increase the department's budget about $4.5 billion above the current-services "baseline'' for that year. Most, if not all, of the increases are apparently slated for new programs.

Mr. Smith said the first new education proposal to be introduced will be legislation similar to a bill that nearly passed in the last session. One section would codify the national education goals and formally authorize a federal role in developing national standards and assessments. The other would establish a grant program to support the development and implementation of education-reform plans at the state and local levels.

The President will include $870 million for the program in his fiscal 1994 budget, Mr. Smith said, and spending is slated to increase to $3.1 billion in fiscal 1997.

"We have to ask more in our schools of our students, our teachers, our principals, our parents,'' the President said in his address. "Yes, we must give them the resources they need to meet high standards, but we must also use the authority and the influence of the Education Department to promote strategies that really work in learning.''

"Money alone is not enough; we have to do what really works to increase learning in our schools,'' Mr. Clinton added.

Reauthorization Plans

Mr. Smith said the Administration's strategy is to provide an infusion of cash to begin developing reform programs, and then "build on'' those reforms in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Hearings have already begun on the E.S.E.A., which is due to be reauthorized next year.

"The idea behind this is that the states will have a year or two to develop their reforms,'' he said, and then the Administration can "put the $9 billion of existing funds in the [E.S.E.A.] behind those reforms.''

"Instead of taking the act program by program,'' Mr. Smith said, "we'll submit legislation reinforcing the state reforms. It's a way of thinking about federal money that's very different.''

The President also proposed an apprenticeship program for high school students and graduates. The program, which would be run jointly by the Labor and Education departments, would receive $270 million in fiscal 1994 and $500 million through fiscal 1997, to be split in an as-yet-undetermined way by the two agencies.

Labor would also allocate, under the President's recommendation, $1 billion in fiscal 1994 for summer youth-training programs, which amounts to $375 million over the baseline of $671 million. By fiscal 1997, spending would reach $625 million beyond the baseline.

The President said in his speech that as many as 700,000 summer jobs would be created, and he challenged the private sector to create an additional 300,000 jobs.

Student-Loan Reform

The Clinton strategy also includes plans to revamp the student-loan program.

By fiscal 1997, the Administration plans to make all student loans through the Education Department. A pilot direct-loan plan was included in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act last year.

Top aides to President Bush first introduced the direct-loan idea, but they abandoned it after questions were raised about the Education Department's ability to administer the program.

President Clinton and his advisers see the loan-distribution method, in which higher-education institutions would serve as the intermediary between the student and the federal government, as a way to save money by reducing defaults and eliminating the subsidies to guarantors and banks that now participate in the program.

Mr. Smith acknowledged that implementing a direct-loan program was "very challenging,'' but added that department officials have "deep concern'' over the program's current structure and that the administration of the student-aid program is Mr. Riley's top management concern.

Mr. Smith said the Federal Family Education Loan Program, formerly known as the Guaranteed Student Loan Program, could not be immediately replaced entirely because such loans would still be outstanding. But the Administration hopes to make all new loans directly by 1997.

At the same time, the Administration is developing a plan to allow cx12p4 el-30lsome students to work in community- or national-service jobs in exchange for college tuition.

Although the details are still not clear, Administration officials said that $3 billion would be included in the fiscal 1997 budget for the service program, and that an additional $2.8 billion would be requested to get the program off the ground over the next several years.

In his speech to Congress, the President likened the program to the Peace Corps, which was created by one of Mr. Clinton's political heros, President Kennedy, but added that "we will provide more than twice as many slots for people before they go to college to be in national service than ever served in the Peace Corps.''

"This program could do for this generation of members of Congress what the Land Grant College Act did and what the G.I. Bill did for former congressmen,'' Mr. Clinton said.

Mr. Smith said the program would be open to high school and college students, as well as post-collegiate servers.

Mr. Smith also said the program would exist outside the Education Department. Admininstration officials and persons in the service field have suggested a decentralized program that would draw on existing service programs. (See Education Week, Jan. 13, 1993.)

Students who choose not to participate in the service program would have the option of repaying their loans through an Internal Revenue Service reduction that would be determined by their income.

Other Proposals

The Administration also hopes to spend $100 million in 1994 on a "safe schools'' initiative that is still being fleshed out.

The proposed increases in education spending are to be partially offset by spending cuts as part of Mr. Clinton's deficit-reduction effort.

Mr. Smith and Mr. Peterson said the fiscal 1994 budget would include about $1 billion in new spending above the current-services baseline and $590 million in cuts. By 1997, they said, Mr. Clinton would propose about $5.5 billion in new spending, offset by $1 billion in cuts.

In addition, they said, the Education Department would lose 198 of its 4,960 full-time staff positions under Mr. Clinton's plan to cut government jobs. However, they also said the Administration would "take into account'' the need for staff to run new programs, such as the direct-loan initiative.

Most of the education cuts remain unspecified, but the officials said Mr. Clinton would propose consolidating the campus-based aid programs--Perkins loans, work study, State Student Incentive Grants, and Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants--and reducing their budget by $200 million in fiscal 1994. In fiscal 1993, those programs totaled $1.4 billion.

Mr. Clinton will also call for the elimination of impact-aid payments on behalf of students whose parents either live or work on federal property. Those so-called "b'' payments received $135 million in the current fiscal year.

Mr. Clinton's Republican predecessors repeatedly tried to cut the campus-based aid programs, and the impact-aid cut has been proposed by every President since Harry S. Truman.

Reaction Mixed

Nonetheless, John Forkenbrock, the executive director of the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools, said he was disappointed that President Clinton followed their lead.

"I heard on the radio today that it is the first day for pitchers and catchers to report to spring training, and I sort of feel like the catcher, with a mask, a chest protector, and a cup,'' Mr. Forkenbrock said. "It seems like at this time every year I'm getting hit in the face, chest, and crotch.''

In past years, the Congress has reinstated the "b'' payments, but Mr. Forkenbrock said that is less likely with Mr. Clinton in the White House.

Other education lobbyists generally voiced support for the Clinton plan. While certain education programs will suffer, they said, the plan represents a commitment to children and education.

"I'm just really excited and ecstatic that we've got someone in the White House who realizes the importance of human investment,'' said Arnold L. Mitchem, the immediate past president of the Committee for Education Funding.

However, some lobbyists noted privately that spending on the proposed new programs would apparently eat up the increases proposed for the Education Department, and might even exceed them. That means that most existing programs would receive level funding or less.

"The numbers don't really add up yet,'' one lobbyist said. "We'll have to wait for the whole budget.''

Vol. 12, Issue 22

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