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State of Kentucky, and more importantly, from Hardin, Gil Burkett, Gilbert C. Burkett, and sitting next to him, the gentleman from Brunswick, Ga., Glynn County, who has taught many members of this committee at least to understand the formula of title I, Ralph Erskine Hood. It is a pleasure to see both of you.
Chairman Perkins left me a little note that says, "If you fail to notice them and record their presence in the record, you will never get to be chairman again."
Thank you very much, gentlemen.
Dr. FISH. Thank you, sir.
Mr. FORD. Sam, do you have a statement here?
STATEMENT OF SAMUEL B. HUSK, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, COUNCIL OF THE GREAT CITY SCHOOLS
Mr. Husk. I have prepared a statement to be given to the committee. I would like to submit it for the record.
Mr. FORD. The next speaker is Samuel B. Husk, vice president of the Council of the Great City Schools.
Without objection the prepared statement submitted by Mr. Husk will be inserted in the record at this point.
You may proceed in any way you feel is most convenient to explain it or amplify it.
[Prepared statement of Samuel B. Husk follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF SAMUEL B. HUSK, EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT,
Mr. Chairman, the Council of the Great City Schools appreciates the opportunity to testify on H.R. 5181. Our member city schools have a responsibility for educating 11% of the nation's children, 25% of its minority children, and 30% of the children from low-income families. We are grateful for the Chairman's continued and devoted interest in seeing that federal education legislation is implemented in a proper and orderly way.
Many of our cities' school board members, and professional staff members who represent the city schools in their respective State capitols, are incredulous at the failure of the Executive branch to provide the estimates, required by law, which would allow this Subcommittee to judge whether the Impact Aid reforms in Public Law 93-380 will indeed correct the inequities addressed by the Congress. Our member cities agree that the Executive branch has a right to its own policy on Impact Aid. It has the right to repeat that position in appropriate forums, when making proposals where legislation is being considered, in oversight hearings, in testifying on appropriations, and in making the annual budget presentation. But these cities further agree that the Administration does not have the right and should never have the right to ignore its responsibility to implement the law, which in this case includes the development of adequate data and estimates. Congress acted on this legislation; President Ford signed the Education Bill before the largest number of witnesses in education history; and now thousands of schools are awaiting the estimates for fiscal year 1976 in order to build their school budgets and plan effectively.
Mr. Perkins, you are to be commended for these hearings and those you held a month ago on this area. The Congress has the responsibility to explain the new legislation and to communicate its intent and potential effect to those at home who will be affected. As Congressman John Brademas has pointed out in his essay entitled "Law-Makers in a Changing World," we need responsible interchange between both the Legislative and Executive branches and the localities to articulate the effect of the Education Amendments of 1974.
Our member city school districts agree on the need for this communication between the various levels of government. However, they do not entirely agree on
whether the reforms should be delayed for a year and a half for the purpose of having better knowledge of what the effects of the reforms will be.
Among our districts are a few with large numbers of military and federally related children. These particular districts are concerned with the effects of the unknown factors in the reforms, such as the public housing funding, and the host of differential rates for differing categories of funding levels in Public Law 874. In developing their fiscal 1976 budgets, they see gaps in the seams when they attempt to estimate the revenues anticipated from impact aid. A lack of accurate revenue information can be serious in a large school system; in some smaller school systems the lack of data and the pending reduction in funds can lead to disaster. The question for districts in this area is whether save-harmless provisions are adequate to protect them from severe hardship. To these districts, then, the proposed delay seems desirable.
Other urban school districts, however, are expressing strong opposition to the proposal. Some of the opposition arises from years of frustration in trying to get some help from the so-called "C" provision of P.L. 874 for public housing students. Back in 1968, in the minority views on the Education Amendments of 1967, the Education and Labor Committee Republicans emphasized the public housing provision as probably the most equitable part of P.L. 874. Yet the statement was made, and the years have borne proof of its truth, that the public housing program was legislatively positioned so that it would never be funded. Public housing previously either required separate funding or depended upon funding of the entire Impact Aid program to trigger it. The Amendments of 1974 changed that situation by calling for an initial 25% funding for all Impact "A" and "B" category children, and including public housing children within those two categories as appropriate. To balance the effect of funding public housing students, the conferees on H.R. 69 agreed to then fund all other programs up to 68% of their entitlement before allocating additional dollars beyond the initial 25% level for children in public housing. A further trade-off resulted in eliminating the poverty concentration program of ESEA Title I and instead directing public housing funds to the children and the schools in these generally low-income neighborhoods. To add one and one-half years to the seven years of waiting for Congress to develop an equitable Impact Aid public housing provision on top of these numerous delaying complications, and after a delay of one year already, seems to those who are ready to implement programs to be asking too much.
These school districts also hold that the Amendments of 1974 were intended to make the public housing pupils an integral part of the program. H.R. 5181 would once again separate out these pupils.
Lastly, these school systems would argue that there is a minimum 80% saveharmless for systems effected by the reforms. They cannot afford to forfeit the dollars preserved by this save-harmless provision.
In summary, while there may be some discontinuity among our member school systems regarding the proposals set forth by H.R. 5181, they remain committed to achieving equitable funding for Impact Aid programs, with the inclusion of appropriate support for public housing pupils.
Mr. Husk. Mr. Ford, I will be very brief, as the testimony is also brief. I think in our statement we point out some of the concerns that some of our cities have with regard to the impact aid reform legislation,
Our organization represents many city school systems, 27 in total. Therefore it also reflects a variance in types of districts. We have districts which represent those such as San Diego, with a large number of A and B children who are federally connected.
We have other school districts such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh where we have very little federally related students, with regard to military compaction.
Therefore it is very difficult for us to reach an overall position on this piece of legislation and the change delay that Mr. Perkins is recommending.
I would like to just point out some of the arguments on the other side that may not have been stressed as much as they might have.
We have heard from Dr. Fish and from Mr. Bobo from Montgomery. We have heard about the possible impacts of this new law on particular school districts. But I think also we ought to look at the other side of the coin, which is the school districts which have been waiting since 1968 for the Federal Government to redress an inequity in their concerns about the legislative process that goes on in trying to reach some appeasement of that inequity.
For example I think it was mentioned this morning in the discussion of the Perkins bill that we are not only asking for a delay because of a lack of information but we may be asking for a delay for a wholesale change in the legislation so that many of the amendments would be reconsidered.
I guess many of our school districts would wonder after they have been through the meat grinder once after you have seen the meat that has come out through the grinder whether you come out looking whole or whether you just come out in finer pieces. I think that is one of our
There is also one other point here and that is related to the legislative appropriations process and the lack of clarity on our part in understanding whether the Perkins amendment indeed by delaying the impact or implementation of the 1974 amendments doesn't really amend the existing legislation which is in place for this one year rather than the reform legislation which would go into effect on July 1. If any members of the committee could clarify that for us it would be greatly appreciated.
If the Perkins amendment is simply modifying the existing legislation which has been intact previous to this time we wonder whether the provision for funding public housing pupils off the top will have as strong a legislative pace for points of order and things of that nature as would the reform legislation.
We agree with Mr. Perkins, as he represented, that the behavior of the Office of Education and the gathering of data information has not been the best, I guess derelict. We deplore the fact that we do not have the information needed to get a national assessment of this type of program.
So I think that overall our position would be that if we have the assurances and they were firmly cast that the public housing pupils were indeed to become an integral part of this legislation and not be separated out as they have been in the past in such a manner that it is very difficult for them, then we might be more inclined to support this type of amendment.
However we also feel that many of the changes are very, very integral to the interest of our cities over the years and we would not want those kind of factors to be lost.
I will just stop there.
Mr. FORD. I think you can understand you are wearing a hairshirt as you speak of the big cities. I spent a few years studying the problems of the largest school district. I think I have a fair understanding of how they are impacted by a number of things.
We are also aware of the fact that they don't all get hit the same way. I am not going to ask you to go into percentages. But I am willing to guess you can comment on this if you wish-that the majority
of members of the Great Cities organization are not impacted in the way that you describe when you said that you were about to present the other side.
Outside of New York City, who else would benefit by not going ahead with the Perkins bill?
Mr. HUSK. Outside of New York City
Mr. FORD. I am not conceding that New York City would benefit by not passing the Perkins bill. Someone there believes that they would benefit. I think it is still open to discussion. But so far as I know it is the only city that has given an indication.
Are there other cities that believe that they are disadvantaged by the $63 million figure?
Mr. Husk. I think the same kind of uncertainty exists in the cities as to what kind of impact there will actually be from the $63 million. I think the concern, Congressman Ford, is not with the figure as much as it is with the idea of keeping public housing an integral part of the program and not putting it in a position where other legislative bodies mainly the Appropriations Committee-can once again put a limitation or elimination on that particular aspect of the program. Mr. FORD. How does the Perkins bill affect that?
Mr. Husk. I don't know whether the language that you have in the Perkins bill really amends the 93-380 or really whether it is amending the existing impact aid legislation.
If it is amending the existing impact aid legislation it may very well be that the Appropriations Committee could find language for considering it in the same manner as it has always been considered and that is that it has to be a separate appropriation or you need to reach a full entitlement for the other parts of the program before
Mr. FORD. Let us walk that through. If the Perkins bill isn't passed the law stays the way it is. If the attitude that the Appropriations Committee has demonstrated in the past for category Cor public housing children persists, your situation isn't any different because they can put legislation on this bill to say-first of all we are obviously going to have a terrible time getting funding even to last year's level of the whole impact program-suppose they decide to fund it at last year's level. If they do fund at last year's level there is a question of whether any of these changes go into effect if they drop anywhere below last year's level.
One way on the floor that you could guarantee the effect of the Perkins bill would be to amend downward the appropriation so that it doesn't equal the levels of the hold-harmless clause because there is a trigger of this entire formula that depends on the appropriation meeting last year's level.
Since there wasn't any money in public housing it does not affect the trigger but you amend down on the other end of the Appropriations Committee or on the floor, without a point of order being made, the amount of money far enough to save the category B schools. That is one technique that I don't think people would like to have to resort to. But it is available.
Mr. HUSK. It may very well be the technique they are going to use. Mr. FORD. If that happens there will be no public housing money, will there? Or very little.
Mr. HUSK. That is correct.
Mr. FORD. Don't you think a guarantee of $63 million is a little better, a bird in the hand, than the possibility of one and a half in the bush? Mr. Husk. I think what we are looking for is the clauses that come beneath the guarantee, the kind of analysis that staff can provide to you or to us to clarify the point that the Perkins amendment would not jeopardize the status of
Mr. FORD. Sam, I am not trying to pick on you. But you are not being consistent because you are saying that you are fearful that if the Perkins amendment—which would not only preserve the action of the formula with respect to public housing but also act as a legislative guarantee that they be the first to get the money, the first $63 million, regardless of the size of the ultimate impact appropriation-you are fearful that because of the past indications of support in the House for public housing funds in impact you might lose that.
But you don't seem to be fearful that you lose it without the Perkins bill. And the parliamentary situation is exactly the same in either case. The Appropriations Committee would have to legislate on an appropriations bill, and if they do they would then have to get a rules approval waiving points of order because if they don't get that approval any one Member would make the point of order and surely there are plenty who would make it.
That is why I find your position kind of inconsistent because it looks to me like if you are in the kind of trouble you justifiably think you are in in the big cities on funding of public housing, it doesn't seem to me that your position is improved by maintaining the status quo.
Mr. Husk. That may be true. But I still don't hear from the committee
Mr. FORD. Wouldn't you generate a substantial amount of support for your $63 million earmarking out of people who have to support you in order to guarantee their own money?
In other words the only way that they can save the category B money that the school districts are about to lose for at least 1 year would be to support a piece of legislation that gives you the $63 million off the top. You wouldn't be fighting the battle alone.
Mr. Husk. It is not that we are talking to that question as much as whether this amendment really will be casting the public housing in the same kind of light as we thought was accomplished by the amendments of 1974, which were to include the public housing as an integral part.
The way of finding out the public housing students may be different. But once they are determined they are the same as any child who is eligible as a so-called B child in the formula.
What happens to you when you come to this particular amendment is that the Perkins amendment-you single out the public housing again as something on the top. You make it a focus of the Appropriations Committee consideration. You raise the whole spectre of "here we are getting into a whole new program which is going to raise substantial amounts of money and we can't do that in this deficit kind of picture we have." You have all of the arguments starting to mushroom which have mushroomed up in the past and have led to nonfunding of a project.
What I am asking is, do we have the kind of backup in explanation of the Perkins amendment which gives us a legislative assurance that this type of separating out could not occur which strengthens the point of