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At this time we oppose the bill as presented for a number of reasons I
I'd like to emphasize that the NEA is not opposed to the concept of block
grants, grant consolidation, or simplification of the administration of federal
grants per se.
Our objection to the proposals in the bill is based largely on
several factors: (a) the inadequate amounts of money requested; (b) extension
of the coverage of all programs to include private school pupils; (c) the creation
of new state agencies for overseeing federal funds; (d) the dilution of aid to
federally connected pupils; (e) the lessening of the surveillance of federal programs
to insure that funds are indeed directed to top educational priorities--school
integration, education of the handicapped, education of the educationally disadvantaged.
Level of Funding.
As you are no doubt aware, the schools are in financial crisis.
This year many school systems across the nation are cutting back staff and programs
with the net effect of a decrease in the educational services pupils are receiving.
The administration's proposal does not provide any increase in funds for existing
It simply tosses in an additional $200 million to cover the difference
between the total of the state allotments under the existing grants and the formulas
in this proposal.
We cannot help but conclude that the major purposes of H.R. 7796 are unrelated
to its stated
It seems that the thrust of this bill is to provide
administrative convenience and perhaps to bring political relief from the pressures
for full funding of existing grant programs.
This is not to deny that the administrative process could benefit from simpli
fication--but much of this simplification could be achieved by hacking away at the
administrative rules and regulations which accompany each title and by more coordination
among the federal administrators of the several federal grant programs.
True, some consolidation of federal grant programs is no
doubt feasible, but
not without a careful analysis of whether the national interest these programs are
designed to serve has been met.
Indeed, we feel it would be a disaster to eliminate
some specific programs--for example, those which provide milk and lunch subsidies
for the nation's school pupils. This proposal provides that the states may transfer
up to 30% of the funds from one block grant to another, except that transfers cannot
be made from formula funds for a A category of federally connected pupils or from
the Title I pupils.
Because this proposal does not provide for a substantial increase
in federal funds or even an increase to meet inflation, the national interest would
not be served if the states elected to transfer, for example, 30 percent of the
vocational funds to the education of the handicapped or vice versa.
We do not
believe that this proposal is feasible at the existing levels of funding and without
a substantial increase in general aid-type funding.
Private School Pupils--We object to the inclusion of private school pupils
in those programs which are now limited to operation within the puplic schools.
While the bill provides no more funds, approximately 5 million additional pupils
would be sharing the programs.
The loss to public school pupils will be acute in
those states where the percentage of private school pupils is highest.
programs in public schools will be especially hard hit.
New State Agency--Forty-nine of the fifty states already have state school
boards elected or appointed to oversee the states' schools.
It is our belief that
the appointment of the state advisory council provided in Section 9 would do
nothing but create
We also object to the fact that this proposal
permits the state's chief executive to by-pass the chief state school officer in
appointing the advisory council and even in administering the special educational
It makes no sense whatsoever to set the stage for two agencies-
for the state education agency to administer state funds and programs and the
governor's appointed council and agency to administer federal funds and programs.
Federally connected children--We note that the federal impact aid is not weaken
ed for category A pupils--those whose parents live and work on federal property.
the aid does not follow the category B pupil with a parent merely working on federal
property or in the uniformed services.
The proposal that not more than 30 percent
of the entitlement for category B children can go to districts without any such
pupils is slight protection indeed.
We believe that the funds appropriated by
Congress to relieve the local burden of excessive numbers of pupils whose parents
are not employed by a taxable employer should be directed toward the school system
We also note that this proposal does not provide impact aid for children
living in public housing.
This was authorized in the last Congress but has never
We stress the need to fully fund this authorization.
do not have a local taxpayer or, in many instances, a taxable emp
These are concentrations of children who need special educational services if the
chain of poverty is to be broken.
Weakening of Surveillance--Finally, at this point we are reluctant to weaken
the rate of progress in getting a fair share of educational opportunity for those
pupils who need it most--the minorities, the poor, and the handicapped. We view
this proposal--the no strings, no red tape approach--as an abdication of federal
responsibility for these pupils.
The Commissioner of Education, Sidney Marland,
has announced his intention of skewing all possible federal programs to the low
income, minority, and handicapped students.
We applaud him for this effort this
We find H.R. 7796 which, in general, would weaken his ability to direct
federal funds inconsistent with his stated goals.
In summary, we urge the Congress to fully fund the grant programs which are
now law and to enact a substantial general aid program before considering consolida
Senator PELL. The subcommittee will stand in recess until 10 o'clock tomorrow morning in this same room.
(Whereupon, at 11:55 a.m., the subcommittee was recessed to reconvene at 10 a.m., Thursday, October 28, 1971.)