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NIE to be abolished ... well, sort of.

Education Secretary William Bennett has announced that on October 1 the National Institute of Education -- the Department of Education's primary research arm -- will be abolished. Functions of the comparatively tiny institute -- budgeted at $51.6 million -- will be absorbed by its parent structure within the Education Department, the Office of Educational Research and Improvement. Few funding changes or layoffs are expected to result from the move, according to Bennett.

Bennett said the reorganization "will achieve greater efficiency and responsiveness and eliminate duplication and needless bureaucratic layering." Among the changes will be elimination of two presidentially appointed positions -- NIE's NIE's director and deputy director--and the downgrading of the National Council on Educational Research from a policysetting body to a purely advisory one. A new oversight committee will coordinate research. Most of the agency's research will be consolidated into a new Office of Research.

Penny Early, director of Federal and State Relations for the Washington, D.C.-based American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, says that "other than moving some functions from one block on an organizational chart to another -- and essentially getting rid of the director of NIE -- I don't see anything that's fundamentally different."

But Laurie Garduque, director of governmental and professional liaison for the American Educational Research Association (AERA) in Washington, D.C., sees an important difference. Representing roughly 14,000 individuals involved in educational research, she expressed AERA's past concern that "NIE hasn't made any new awards to individual researchers in four years." The agency's accounting procedures tended to mask that, she says, since there were no budgetary line-items on how NIE spent its research money. But with the new Office of Research, she says, "if they zero out cognitive science research in education it will be clearly evident to everyone." As a result, now the agency can be held up to greater scrutiny and accountability, she believes.

Ironically, in a postscript to the statement on NIE's abolition, Bennett added that the Education Department also intends to seek legislative authority to rename the Office of Educational Research and Improvement. His choice? The National Institute of Education. This name change is the only aspect of the entire reorganization requiring congressional approval.
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Title Annotation:National Institute of Education
Author:Raloff, Janet
Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 20, 1985
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