In a speech at Iowa's Isaac Newton Christian Academy in Cedar Falls in November, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) criticized the Clinton administration's education policies. He said the problems of American education today can be attributed to the "dictates, meddling and politically correct dogma of federal bureaucrats." The speech fits into Dole's pattern of attempting to pare back federal control of the nation's school policies, on levels ranging from kindergarten to higher education. The Republican presidential nominee said President Clinton's proposed "government takeover" of the student loan program increases costs for students and families. For example, he voted against creating AmeriCorps, Clinton's national service program, in 1993. Dole strongly supports private-sector lending and opposes Clinton's efforts to continue the direct-lending program, which allows the Department of Education to administer loans directly to students. Republicans would like to cap or eliminate the direct-lending program. While Clinton claims that the program saves the federal government money, Republicans believe that the program is untested and too expensive. Dole voted against legislation creating the Education Department in 1979 and he continues to support its elimination. He says that while the department's funding has increased from $14 billion to $33 billion since 1979, the National Assessment of Educational Progress reports that 25 percent of high school seniors are functionally illiterate. Dole has said that if the department were eliminated, the student loan programs and Pell Grant programs could be administered by another federal agency. The senator has also proposed eliminating funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. "The Republican balanced budget plan increases funding for student loans by almost 50 percent, growing from $25 billion in 1995 to $36 billion in 2002," Dole said. "The plan also would enable taxpayers to deduct a portion of the interest paid on student loans for the first time since 1986." While President Clinton lifted a ban on fetal tissue research, Dole said that he would end federal financing for such programs. And he also introduced legislation last year that would prohibit the federal government from granting preferences to individuals on the basis of race, ethnic background and gender in three areas -- federal contracting, federal employment and programs fully administered by the federal government. The bill would effectively put an end to federal affirmative action programs. The legislation, however, would not affect the ability of colleges and universities to grant preferences in admissions or financial aid. Dole aided in preventing the passage of a bill that would have created a program to help black colleges renovate their facilities until a provision was added to include funds for a predominantly white institution in Kansas. Last year, Republicans said they would cut off funds for federal student aid programs for minority and disadvantaged medical students that have not yet received congressional authorization. The programs, part of the Public Health Service, are vulnerable because they were not reauthorized by lawmakers last year. Clinton also called for some cuts to their budgets. "Just as the federal government must cut spending, so too must colleges and universities find ways to trim excessive spending as a means to reduce tuition costs," Dole said. In his fiscal 1996 budget plan, Clinton proposed reorganizing the programs while keeping them intact. He also suggested dividing other aid programs for the health professions into clusters. Altogether he would provide $389 million for programs in the five clusters in 1996, a 7 percent cut from the amount budgeted in 1995. Dole called on the Education Department during former President Bush's administration to pressure colleges to end admissions preferences for the children of alumni. "One of the greatest strengths of American higher education is the high quality of our research universities, which attract students, researchers and faculty from around the world," Dole said.Comments powered by Disqus
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