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Clinton makes education a priority for second term

by Charles Dervarics

Saying that the first two years of college should be as much of a birthright as twelve years of primary and secondary school, President Bill Clinton has asked the Congress to increase federal spending on education by $51 billion.

 

 In the budget Clinton submitted to the Congress on February 6, he asked for: $35 billion in tax credits for college tuition; and $16 billion in more funding for existing federal programs such as Head Start and Title I, and new initiatives such as the repair of crumbling school buildings — particularly in cities.

 

 “It includes historically high levels of investment in every area of education from preschool to high school to college,” Education Secretary Richard Riley said.

 

In his State of the Union address to Congress, Clinton said that investing in education had the same urgency as it had at the beginning of the Cold War. For higher education, the particular of the president’s proposed budget include:

 

·         A 5 percent increase in TRIO programs, which help recruit low-income and minority students for college, from $500 million to $525 million for the fiscal year beginning in October. About half of the new funds, $13 million, would go to Talent Search, one of five of the major TRIO programs. The Education Department said it planned to make new awards in Talent Search as well as for Educational Opportunity Centers, which would receive $29 million in the new budget, up $3 million from current funding.

 

·         * A 3 percent increase in funding for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Although the increase is smaller than previous years, it is $4 million more than last year. Funding for the main HBCU program would increase from $109 million this year to $113 in 1998. Funding for HBCU graduate institutions would remain the same at $19.6 million. HCBUs, however, could receive an extra $2 million in the president’s new budget for endowment grants. Congress provided no funds for this purpose during the past two fiscal years.

·         * A 10 percent increase for financial and next year, or $47 billion. Within that, the budget recommends $857 million for college work/study programs, an increase of $27 million from current funding. The number of recipients also will increase from 945,000 to 973,000 under these projections. The budget also would freeze funding for Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants and Perkins Loans at $583 million and $158 million, respectively. The only major cut proposed in the student-aid budget is elimination of the State Student Incentive Grants program, funded at $50 million this year. The program began as a way to encourage states to offer need-based aid, and all stages currently provide such aid, the budget stated. The budget would continue expansion of the direct loan program. Student loan fees for the most needy borrowers would fall by about half in most programs. New education initiatives in the budget included.

·         * A $200 million, first year downpayment on America Reads!, a new initiative to ensure all children can read by third grade. The Education Department eventually plans to commit $1.4 billion for this initiative, with another $1 billion provided through national service programs to recruit reading tutors.

·         * $500 million for education technology, nearly double current funding, so that states and school districts can make new purchases and design: plans to integrate technology with learning.

·         * $5 billion for a school construction initiative which would target inner city districts as well as small towns. The federal government would provide $5 billion over four years to pay interest on school district bonds, and the president hopes the initiative will stimulate about $20 billion in school investment. This initiative was proposed by Sen. Carol Mosely Braun (D-Ill.).

·         * $6 million to help low-income students take advanced-placement tests. “This program would help raise academic expectations by encouraging low-income students to take such tests for college credit, while also stimulating more high schools to offer advanced placement courses,” the president’s budget states. The president’s budget proposed in creases in many existing programs, though not all. In particular:

·         * Head Start: The preschool child development program would receive $4.3 billion, up $300 million from current funding to serve an additional 36,000 students.

·         * Title 1: The budget recommends $8 billion, up nearly $400 million from current funding, with most of the increases provided in grants to local districts.

·         * HBCU Capital Financing Program: The budget would continue to provide $000,000 in administrative costs for this program, which the federal government guarantees bond financing for the repair and construction of HBCU facilities.

·         * Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need The budget recommended $30 million, a $6 million increase, for this program that provides fellowships at graduate schools that seek students from underrepresented groups.

·         * Early intervention Scholarships: ED proposed to terminate this small $3.6 million program to help encourage disadvantaged youth to pursue post-secondary education. The program “would require a much greater federal investment to have a national impact,” the budget stated.

·         * Howard University: The Washington, D.C.-based institution would receive $196 million, the same as current funding.

·         COPYRIGHT 1997 Cox, Matthews & Associates
  COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group



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