Education, which made most lists of the top 10 domestic issues for 1983, appears to be an also-ran in the presidential campaign.
For Education Secretary T.H. Bell, that means a steady but unspectacular series of campaign appearances, at functions like the 25th anniversary last week of the California State University at Fullerton.
Bell's schedule contrasts sharply with the more glamorous itineraries of Treasury Secretary Donald T. Regan and Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Hanford Dole.
Asked about Bell's role, campaign press aide John Buckley said the secretary doesn't generate a lot of invitations because he doesn't have his own regional or political following.
Bell's natural constituency is educators, but organizations such as the National Education Association are among Democratic nominee Walter F. Mondale's biggest boosters.
A Bell aide said the secretary was invited to speak at the convention of the American Federation of Teachers, but it conflicted with the Republican National Convention. FIGURES DON'T ADD UP YET. . .
Regulations governing the distribution of the math and science aid authorized by Congress last summer are being drafted in the in the secretary's office, but a final decision has not been made on which officials will control which grants and contracts.
In part, this is because the program still doesn't have any money, officially. While President Reagan has signed legislation authorizing $350 million for math-science spending in fiscal 1984 and $400 million in fiscal 1985, Congress hasn't finished the fiscal 1985 appropriation for the Education Department.
Based on the highly prescriptive language of the math-science bill, it seems the department won't have much discretion in distributing the funds. The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Office of Postsecondary Education are expected to handle the bulk of the money, although some will go to Bell's discretionary fund.
The question of whether staff will be added for these programs is also a ticklish one -- memories of the RIFs and reorganizations of the past three years are still fresh. "We are holding out staff resources to deal with it if necessary," said one official. Translation: "Maybe."