There is a little bit of Rodney Dangerfield in Education Secretary Terrel H. Bell. The way Bell tells it, he and President Reagan get no respect from educators.
"I think that the president deserves a lot more credit than he's getting from the education community," Bell complained last week in a speech to state school officials. After all, he said, the president put $13.2 billion for education into his budget, $4.2 billion more than the Office of Management and Budget wanted.
Bell and company also are having trouble getting respect on Capitol Hill, where the administration's new education proposals landed like a lead balloon.
The department has not been able even to find a friendly Republican to sponsor its proposals to restructure college student aid. It wants to target $3.5 billion in aid to the lowest-income students and make them pay 40 percent of their college costs, increase funding for the College Work Study program by 60 percent and revise the eligibility requirements for student loans.
Parents of college students, however, may not need to worry about any changes. Even Republicans on the House Education and Labor Committee say the proposals are all but dead.
"Everyone feels that the last thing we need is more uncertainty about eligibility," said William Blakey, counsel on the postsecondary education subcommittee. "We're going to leave well enough alone." WHAT HAPPENED?
Block grants were the Reagan administration's answer to much of what was wrong with government, and the nation's schools are among the places where the solution is being tested. But the department does not intend to try to find out how schools are spending the money until next year, according to officials.
The block grants were created in 1981 by merging 28 categorical programs, ranging from metric education to desegregation assistance, under Chapter 2 of the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act. This year schools received $451 million in such grants.
A study is under way on how states allocated the money, but the department decided not to look at how schools are spending the money until next year because it does not want to burden them with paper work.
A survey of 2,500 school districts by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), however, indicates that 88 percent are using the money for books, computers and audiovisual equipment. "Schools are using the money as a springboard to get into high technology," said Claudia Austin of the AASA.
Big city schools and desegregation programs appear to be the big losers under the block grants. Smaller school districts are the big winners.
According to Austin, block grants cost the typical big city school district $835,000 this year. Figures gathered by the Council of Great City Schools show the nation's 29 largest school districts received $92.l million under the 28 categorical programs in 1981-82, compared with $50.3 million under the block grants.
These hard-pressed districts had received most of federal desegregation assistance, one of the eliminated categorical programs, and had been far more aggressive than smaller districts in seeking money from other programs. SCHOOL FINANCE
A fundamental change is occuring in the way public schools are financed, acccording to a new study by the National Education Association. This year, for the first time, states are paying more than half the cost of public education, providing an average of 50.3 percent of revenue. This compares with 40.7 percent 10 years ago.
Meanwhile, the federal share has dropped to 7.4 percent, the lowest in a decade. The local share has fallen from 51.4 percent to 42.3 percent the last 10 years.