WASHINGTON — The House on Thursday overwhelmingly approved an education bill that renews and expands programs affecting most of the nation's elementary and secondary schoolchildren.
The 401-1 vote came after lawmakers rejected an attempt to bar federal funds for youth suicide prevention courses and approved a $1-million presidential award program for excellence in teaching foreign languages.
Rep. Philip M. Crane (R-Ill.) voted against the bill.
Rep. Augustus F. Hawkins (D-Los Angeles), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, said the vote was the first calling for a real increase in domestic spending in several sessions of Congress.
Senate Has Not Acted
Actual spending levels for the programs in the House bill will not be determined until an appropriations bill is passed. The Senate has not passed an education bill.
The omnibus School Improvement Act consolidates 14 programs, renews them until 1993 and authorizes some $780 million in spending above current levels.
The largest item in the bill is the government's Chapter 1 program for low-income and educationally disadvantaged children. The bill authorizes $4.1 billion for basic grants for Chapter 1 services, $200 million higher than current spending.
Other provisions in the bill call for twice as much spending on bilingual and adult education programs and new initiatives for dropouts, preschoolers and the gifted and talented.
Suicide Issue Debated
One of the few major debates on the legislation came in response to an amendment by Rep. Bill Grant (D-Fla.) to prohibit federal education grants for youth suicide prevention efforts until a federal study is completed. Lawmakers rejected the amendment.
School districts are authorized to use education block grants to carry out such activities. But Grant said dissemination of information on suicide might foster an epidemic among adolescents.
"We just don't know enough about this issue yet to be approving courses in our public schools," he said. "It's not that we don't want to deal with the problem. We don't want to aggravate the problem."
Major authorizing provisions of the education bill include:
--$246 million for bilingual education, double the amount now being spent.
--$200 million for adult education, almost twice the $109 million now being spent.
--$25 million for a new gifted and talented program named after the late Sen. Jacob K. Javits (R-N.Y.).