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AMERICAN COUNCIL ON EDUCATION
Division of Governmental Relations
February 18, 1983
The Honorable Dave McCurdy
Dear Representative McCurdy:
On behalf of the higher education associations listed below, we commend you for your leadership regarding efforts to resolve the current crisis in mathematics and science education. We support your introduction of H.R. 836, to permit a tax credit to certain employers that engage the services of pre-college mathematics and science teachers for part-time and summer employment. However, we have a number of concerns regarding your proposal in H.R. 835 to utilize loan-forgiveness as an incentive to attract undergraduate students into teaching careers in mathematics and science.
As you consider modifications to H.R. 1310, now pending before the Science and Technology Committee, we respectfully request your consideration of the following observations:
• NDSL forgiveness would complicate the existing loan programs
authorized under the Higher Education Act, Title IV; these are already very difficult for institutions to administer and for students to understand. Forgiveness for math and science teachers at 9 percent interest, for example, would create a fourth distinct category of NDSL loans which already have rates of 3 percent, 4
percent, and 5 percent.
the amount of funds on hand at a given campus depends on the
One Dupont Cirde, Washington, D.C. 20036-1193 (202) 833-4736
• In contrast to loan programs, grant or scholarship mechanisms with
service provisions are intended to create an obligation for service rather than to distribute student aid. Evidence suggests that the more like a loan the assistance becomes, through the option of periodic cash payments in lieu of service, the less service is obtained.
Since data are inconclusive about the effects of loan-forgiveness as a mechanism to influence labor shortages, we believe that the proposed scholarship program contained in H.R. 1310 should be implemented as an experimental approach toward addressing this problem, and assessed for its impact after the expiration of the authority. One of the advantages of such an approach is that the size of the award and the prospect of a substantial payback obligation can be expected to provide both a greater incentive to pursue a teaching career and a greater deterrent to avoiding the service responsibility. Loan forgiveness has been presumed to afford a neglible incentive and to pose insignificant obstacles to avoiding the service responsibility.
Importantly, the proposed scholarship program has the further advantage of not increasing administrative difficulties in the existing system of student financial assistance. We believe that the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act two years from now is the appropriate occasion for discussion of any suggested alterations in the federal commitment to student aid.
This letter is on behalf of:
American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
Senator STAFFORD. Reverend Byron.
Father BYRON. I do not think it would be a sufficiently strong incentive. I think if it were to be applied at all, it should apply to all of teaching as a profession, and the reconsideration of the higher education amendments would be the place to take that up.
And it seems to me that we are getting a maldistribution now because of the debt burden that students carry. I just have a feeling that fewer students are choosing the science and humanities disciplines through Ph. D. programs and selecting, for example, law or medicine or dentistry, because of the anticipated ability to pay off their debts; not professional school debts, but their undergraduate student debts.
And if they are choosing a spouse also carrying a heavy debt burden, that just makes the matter much more complex. So as a device to meet this problem, I do not see it as being particularly useful. But I do see a misallocation of our talent in function of the debt burden, which is an argument for more grants or a GI bill type of student aid.
Senator STAFFORD. Thank you very much, sir.
Senator PELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have some questions I might submit for the record. I would just add the thought that what is needed here is not only the national incentive, but some how to restore the prestige to teaching that it deserves, because the real strength of our Nation is the education of our young people, and the teachers play a role in that, and yet over the last few years their position in the community, their prestige dropped.
And I would hope that we can take some kind of measures like that honoring teachers.
Mr. FRETWELL. Could I speak to that for a moment, Senator? A very good question Senator Pell has raised: There are a lot of answers to it, but I would suggest one, believe it or not, that does not cost significant amounts of money, necessarily, and this is what I will call "colleague ship.” The bay area writing project, for example, which I think addresses one of Senator Denton's chief concerns, improving the teaching of English composition in the schools, which came out of Berkeley, Calif., but is in use extensively in our State, provides a close working relationship, not just for one course, but over a period of time, between teachers in the schools and teachers of the same subject-in that case, English-at the collegiate level.
The teachers, who are master teachers, as defined in the schools, work then with certain of their colleagues who can learn from them in the school, a mentor situation, and they in turn are, I hope, inspired, certainly helped by people in the English department in certain universities. Now, this is a relatively low-cost program, but there are some satisfactions, some prestige for an elementary schoolteacher to be working with his or her colleague at the high school level, and so on, up the line. I had this experience as a teacher in the elementary school, and being plugged into a good science teacher meant a lot to me at that time, and the school district did not spend much money on it.
Senator PELL. A good idea. And thank you very much.
Senator STAFFORD. Well, the Chair wants to thank you all very much, gentlemen, for your patience; we appreciate the sacrifice you have made, and we apologize for the demands of time that always seem to catch up with us here.
We really are going to study your detailed statements carefully in drafting the legislation, and for the whole subcommittee, our thanks.
Thank you very much.
The next panel will consist this morning of Mr. Gilbert D. Johnson, manager of training and education, Information Technology Group, Electronic Data Systems, Dallas, Tex., and also Dr. William Lucas, the assistant superintendant, Los Angeles School Distirct, Los Angeles, Calif., who will be an extra added attraction today. We understand, Doctor, there was apparently some mixup in the schedule—when we asked you to be here or in the airlines, we do not know which; but anyway we are delighted you are here this morning.
We still have the old bugaboo of time, gentlemen, because if we run an awful lot longer, we are going to become illegal by Senate rules. So, Mr. Johnson, we would be most happy to hear from you. STATEMENTS OF GILBERT D. JOHNSON, MANAGER, EDUCATION
AND TRAINING, INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY GROUP, ELECTRONIC DATA SYSTEMS, ACCOMPANIED BY MILTON RUSSELL, GENERAL COUNSEL, ASSOCIATION OF DATA PROCESSING SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS; AND WILLIAM LUCAS, ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT, LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
Mr. JOHNSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to introduce Mr. Milton Russell, who is the general counsel for ADPSO under whose sponsorship we are appearing here today.
Senator STAFFORD. We are very glad he is here.
Mr. JOHNSON. I am going to depart from my notes, if I may. I understand that they will be submitted for the record.
Senator STAFFORD. Sure.
Mr. JOHNSON. As you know, we are here representing industry, in particular the data processing industry. We do not consider ourselves to be educators, nor legislators, but we do appreciate the opportunity to share with you our concerns regarding present educational standards as they apply to math, science, and computer science.
Within our industry we tend to do a great deal of internal training. In my firm, EDS, we have been conducting extensive internal training programs since 1968. Because we have experienced problems with the academic qualifications of people coming into our entry-level programs, we are deeply concerned with the issues currently before this subcommittee. As an example of the basis for our concern, we currently have approximately 140 entry-level technical positions open at our local facilities. We also have approximate 1,500 applicants to fill those positions; however, because of academic qualifications, only 75 of those applicants are qualified.
By in large, the principal academic failings of unqualified applicants are the lack of a basic sounding in mathematics and science, as well as a general weakness in computer literacy. The importance of these subjects at all levels of education cannot be overemphasized. In a great many of the junior high and high schools, computers are becoming more and more prevalent. Unfortunately, our experience indicates that many of the teachers who use this equipment have received very little training other than simple operating instructions. Computer literacy throughout academia appears to be a problem.
As indicated in my written testimony, we feel that there are three basic factors that should be considered in relation to the problems you are considering. The first is that we are in the age of the computer. Almost everything in our society is influenced by computers and computer technology. This situation reinforces the need for computer literacy.
Second, academia must remain abreast of computer science. In past eras, most of the new technology has come out of academia. In the field of computer science, that new technology is now being driven by industry, and we recommend a closer association between industry and academia to close that technology loop.
And third, the computer industry needs to realize its responsibility to play an active part in closing the technology loop.
In our written testimony, we have provided seven recommenations. We do not feel that they are subject to direct legislation, but we do feel that they might be encouraged by legislative action.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Johnson follows:]