In early 1973 I proposed several major initiatives for education: a record $12.4 billion budget request for the Office of Education programs—a 17-percent increase over the previous year—including an additional $1.4 billion in our college student aid programs; and major legislative proposals.
Today I am pleased and proud to be able to join with my colleagues from the Congress and friends from the education community and sign into law the Education Amendments of 1978 and the Middle Income Student Assistance Act. Combined with the appropriations bill for fiscal 1979 I signed earlier this month, these bills represent an historic expansion of Federal assistance to education.
The administration's proposals for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 were intended to reaffirm and strengthen our commitment to equal educational opportunity for disadvantaged children; to ensure mastering the basic skills of reading, writing, and mathematics; to forge a new Federal, State, and local partnership; to achieve increased budget control over Impact Aid; to reduce excessive paperwork; and to address the unique educational needs of bilingual, American Indian, and female students; to aid desegregation of school systems; and to increase aid to private school children, especially through Federal programs for instructional materials, compensatory and bilingual education.
To my great pleasure, the amendments include the major proposals which we made to Congress last February, in particular, the new Title 1 provisions for supplemental funds to school districts with large numbers or proportions of children from poor families, and matching grants to stimulate States to establish compensatory education programs. As a result, more than 7 million disadvantaged children-almost 2 million more than last year—will be served.
The Middle Income Student Assistance Act, which I am also signing today, is similar to the G.I. bill as a landmark in the Federal commitment to aid families with college students. Responding to my original proposals to the Congress, this bill provides more generous Basic Educational Opportunity Grant—Pell grants-to low-income students, and makes eligible students from families with income up to about $25,000. An additional 1.5 million students from middle-income families will be eligible for the Basic Grants program.
The bill also expands the Guaranteed Student Loan program so that the Government will pay interest for any student eligible for a federally guaranteed loan of up to $2,500 per year while the student is still in college.
The expanded commitments to education represented by these two bills fully support the assertion that this has been the most education-minded Congress since the midsixties. This year with the help of education and parent associations, we have together taken an historic step in the evolution of the Federal role in education.
The Nation is deeply indebted to the work of the members of the Senate Human Resources Committee-Education Subcommittee and the House Education and Labor Committee-Education subcommittees. In particular, I wish to extend my personal thank you to Senators Williams and Pell, Congressmen Perkins and Ford, and to Secretary Califano, Assistant Secretary Mary Berry, and Commissioner of Education Ernest Boyer for the bills I am signing today.