The nation's best known and biggest federal educational program named for a politician has, until now, been the Fulbright grant program, after the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (although he introduced the bill creating the program when he was a member of the House).
All that is about to change, however, according to a notice in the Jan. 19 Federal Register (page 5321). Beginning in the 1982-1983 academic year, we will have the Pell grant program, named for Sen. Claiborne Pell (D-R.I.).
It is not a new program -- the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant program, which will supply some $2.6 billion this year to about 2.5 million needy students, is getting its name changed. Thereby hangs our tale.
The acronym for this giant federal grant program is BEOG, and when spoken of it is called the "bogs" program. That pronunciation has somehow given the impression that it was named after the late majority leader of the House, Hale Boggs of Louisana, who died in an aircraft crash.
But Pell was the original sponsor of the program back in 1972, and getting it passed required a tought fight. Since then, there are many people on Capitol Hill who have heard him remark, "There is no Senator Bogs," when officials and educational leaders come before his Senate Education subcommittee to talk about the program. The crack is often not made in pure jest.
Last year, Sen. Thomas Eagleton (D-Mo.) introduced an amendment to change the program name to the Pell Grants, and the full subcommittee, charied by Pell, approved it unanimously. It then breezed through the Senate and was adopted by the House.
To avoid the confusion of two names for the five million students, hundreds of institutions and government agencies who have in hand the printed BEOGs materials for the 1981-1982 academic year, the Department of Education is delaying introduction of the new name until the following year. Then, the notice orders, "all materials concerning the program must refer to 'Pell Grants.'"
Meanwhile, other Captiol Hill legislators may be looking for other programs to preserve their names for posterity. How about the "Tower draft," for a start?