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The Washington Post
ÅN INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER
TILURSDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 1983
William J. Byron
A nickel a gallon for roads, bridges and mass transit. Why not a nickel a book for research libraries?
By imposing a five-cent tax on every galIon of gasoline sold, the federal government expects to generate $5.5 billion annually for road repairs. The motorists will pay for better highways. Predictably, the trucking industry is unhappy, but all users, heavy and light, will benefit, and hundreds of thousands of repair-related jobs will be filled. Relaxed size and weight restrictions on trucks eased passage of the bill. Nickela-gallon is now the law of the land.
Why muse over the possibility of a nickel a book for research libraries? There is no federal library system to speak of. Such a tax would, some will certainly argue, pose a threat to freedom of the press (although the telephone excise tax seems not to im. pair freedom of speech). Others will ask: What is a book? Are pamphlets exempt? Will magazines be next? Isn't the tax re. gressive? Why raise the issue at all?
Our research libraries are in need of repair. Retrofitting for the new library technology is an even greater need. New equipment is necessary for the new information systems. Roofs, pipes, wiring, shelving, walls and climate control require attention in must old libraries, of course. Construc. tion and reconstruction jobs are waiting to be done: jobs would be generated.
But even if all our libraries were in perfect repair, a major unmet-and often unnoticed-capital need would remain. Scholarly periodicals will soon be published electronically. Scholarly output will be stored in computer banks, not printed jour, nals. People will use the journal and the article by going to a terminal, not a shelf: Front-end capital costs of electronic journal depositories for scholarly output will be great. So will costs of placing terminals and display screens within reach of readers and researchers across the nation.
Publishers, already uneasy at the prospect: of electronic juimals, cannot be expected to hail the possibility of a nickel-a-book excise. tax any more than the truckers welcomed the nickel-a-gallon on gasoline. The vast majority of book buyers, however, would follow the drivers in accepting the levy without protest Revenues produced by this tax, if spent wisely on the improvement of research libraries, would guarantee that readers will have better books to buy in the decades ahead.
A federal initiative toward the improvement of research libraries would be a wel. come signal that Uncle Sam expects the nation to tip its hat, instead of tapping its head, in the direction of those who dedicate themselves to scholarly research.
The writer is president of Catholic University.
Senator STAFFORD. Now, Dr. Smith, we would be very happy to hear from you.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I am Joshua Smith, and I am the president of the Borough of Manhattan Community College of the City University of New York. And today I am wearing more than one hat because I am representing the American Association of Community and Junior Colleges and the Association of Community College Trustees by being the vice chair of the Joint Commission on Federal Relations.
This joint commission believes that our country should make at least as much of an investment in new skills development and human infrastructure improvement as the Congress seems inclined to make in public works infrastructure repair.
The aim of our joint commission is to encourage a broad national strategy that would harness the now fragmented Federal programs on job training and employment in the comprehensive development and full use of the Nation's human resources.
We believe that the House has made a good beginning in H.R. 1310, and wisely it is bringing the resources and leadership of the community colleges and of the National Science Foundation together to attack the private sector's pressing need for special skills in targeting 20 percent of the $100 million that title II provides for the National Science Foundation on strengthening the instructional models and faculty in high technology in the community and technical colleges.
The committee report from the Science and Technology Committee on H.R. 1310 observed, and I quote:
The committee realizes that NSF has traditionally not been involved in community college programs. However, in view of the critical importance of technician training to the future of high technology industries, the committee believes strongly that the NSF must take responsibility for developing and demonstrating the most effective programs for technician training.
The committee intends that funds under this section be used to develop and conduct model instructional programs, to purchase and lease appropriate instructional equipment, and to provide the opportunities for professional faculty development.
Unless we succeed in eliminating the technician gap, the leadership that the United States still maintains in technological and scientific discovery inevitably will decline. Repeatedly our scientific community turns out new technology only to have the Japanese steal the markets growing out of that technology because they have the technicians to move into production faster than we do, as Representative Gillis Long observed in the House Rules Committee deliberations on H.R. 1310.
Mr. Chairman, the bill that you and Senators Pell and Cranston developed last December and that Senator Pell reintroduced 2 weeks ago, the Education for Economic Security Act, you have recognized that the critical teacher shortages in math and science are not confined to the elementary and secondary schools, and you have earmarked nearly as much support for postsecondary teacher development as you have for teacher training in the lower school systems.
Partly because of our steady growth in enrollments--and I will parenthetically say the growth in my own college is so spectacular between semesters this year we increased by almost 30 percent
and then partly because our technician programs are very popular and because our teaching salaries cannot meet industrial competition. The community colleges are grappling with grave shortages of faculty in the computer and electronics sciences and math and physics as well, and in my printed testimony I have included some tables that will give you some idea of the results of a national survey which the association recently took.
But as you go about blending H.R. 1310 with the Senate legislation, Mr. Chairman, we have two specific recommendations. If you maintain the set-asides which S. 530 proposes for vocational programs, then the postsecondary set-asides should equal the elementary, secondary set-aside.
As Dr. David Pierce, executive director of the Illinois State Community College Board noted in testimony before this committee last week, the data collected on vocational enrollments for the 1979-80 academic year by the National Center for Educational Statistics shows that 39 percent of all students in vocational programs were in postsecondary courses. And if only occupational specific programs were counted, the postsecondary share was 51 percent.
Community college growth would make that percentage even higher now, yet the set-aside prescribed by S. 530 for secondary programs in the emerging technologies would be 22.75 percent of the total funding for the bill, while the set-aside for postsecondary programs within the same area would just be 12.25 percent.
And that imbalance, we believe, tends to run counter to today's trends and to the reality which point us toward yet more advanced technician training beyond high school to serve the needs of industry for tomorrow.
Our second proposal goes to the other part of H.R. 1310, and that concerns the congressional scholarships to aid students who want to seek careers in teaching mathematics and science.
We endorse the concept, but we strongly recommend that students become eligible for the scholarships in their sophomore year of college rather than in the junior year. We believe that it is altogether too late to wait until the junior year to determine that a student is going to make the decision to go on into a career in education. We also believe that the student will not have the proper foundation in science and mathematics that would be required to make that person a good teacher.
In closing, Mr. Chairman, we would like to add to the hearing record the general statement of legislative priorities from the Joint Commission of ICCT and AACJC, entitled “Paramount Priority, Human Infrastructure.” And that will accompany my prepared testimony, and we thank you again for the opportunity to appear.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Smith and the general statement referred to follow:]
MATHEMATICS, SCIENCE AND FOREIGN LANGUAGE EDUCATION
New York, New York
Mr. Chairman, the community colleges are very pleased to be invited to testify on
legislation that may well prove to be the most important public policy that Congress
addresses in this session.
The task facing our country, of rejuvenating the national
skills base, of rebuilding, if you will, the economy's human infrastructure, is one
that requires the working together, the pulling together of all of us
-- the Congress,
the community colleges and the entire educational system, the governors, the private
We recognize that it is not a challenge that Congress alone can solve.
Yet we look to you, Mr. Chairman, to chart the national strategy to meet it.
We have started off emphasizing the need to expand the general skills base,
Mr. Chairman, because in our judgment, a depleted skills base has a lot to do with
the problem which is the primary focus of your hearing, which is the insufficent
supply and quality of math and science teachers at every level of education.
our skills base were keeping up with the needs of the emerging technology, if we
were turning out technicians, engineers, scientists and mathematicians on the same
relative scale that Japan, the Soviet Union and several other industrial rivals are,
the Nation would have an easier time staffing the science, math and technology pro
grams of its schools and colleges with qualified personnel.
would less constantly bleed our faculties, and we would cease to devour the "seed
corn" of our own national productivity.
Even though the push we made in the sciences a generation ago in the wake of
Sputnik culminated in the United States capturing the space lead and putting the
first man on the moon, hindsight shows us that it was not a commitment and success
in which the whole learning and training establishment shared, as it ought to have
It was a push concentrated in a smaller scientific community
the fashion of the Manhattan Project of an earlier generation.
Let's not make the same mistake in tackling the present crisis.
not make the mistake of thinking we can turn it around overnight.
The fact that
Japan, with half our population, is turning out twice as many engineers as we are
speaks to a momentum that we cannot match with simple jobs programs.
Nation must have, in our judgment, is a "moon shot" commitment to the development
of its human capital, a commitment reaching every corner of the economy, every
level of the workforce.
In fact, Mr. Chairman, it is the concensus of the American Association of
Community and Junior Colleges and the Association of Community College Trustees,
both of which I represent here today as Vice Chairman of their Joint Commission on
Federal Relations, that our country should make at least as much of an investment
in new skills development and human infrastructure improvement as the Congress seems
inclined to make in public works infrastructure repair.
The aim of our Joint Com
mission is to encourage a broad national strategy that would harness the now frag
mented federal programs on job training and employment in the comprehensive
development and full use of the Nation's human resources.
The House has made a good beginning in H.R. 1310. Wisely, it is bringing
the resources and leadership of the community colleges and of the National Science
Foundation together to attack the private sector's pressing need for special skills.
In targeting 20 percent of the $100 million that Title II provides for the National
Science Foundation on strengthening the instructional models and faculty in high
technology in the community and technical colleges, the Committee Report from the
Science and Technology Committee on H.R. 1310 observes,
"The Committee realizes that NSF has traditionally not been involved in community college programs. However, in view of the critical importance of technician training to the future of high technology industries, the committee believes strongly that the