Advisory Panel Asks Funds Rise for Black Schools; Proposal Eyes Higher Education '10 Percent solution'.(NATION)

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Byline: Steve Miller, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A White House advisory board has recommended designating 10 percent of all federal money spent on higher education for historically black schools, which represent 3 percent of the nation's public colleges and universities.

Twenty of the 22 members of the President's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) last week approved the final draft of the report. It calls the concept the "10 percent solution" and asks for its implementation during the Bush presidency.

The proposed funding increase will avail black students to more fields that are traditionally nonblack, said board Chairman Benjamin Franklin Payton, president of Tuskegee University.

"I am talking about the failure of this country to provide for the future of bright blacks," Mr. Payton said. "If you look at the data and see who is producing the black engineers or behavioral science, it is the HBCUs [historically black colleges and universities]."

The 10 percent solution is not a quota plan, he said, but a means to "level the playing field for those who have been underserved."

A public hearing on the advisory report will be held early next year before being sent to the president for his consideration.

"Hopefully, it will then be shared with the affected departments, who will then tell the [Office of Management and Budget] of its commitment," said one board member, who asked not to be identified.

Multiple agencies would be affected by the plan, including the departments of Agriculture and Interior as well as the Department of Education. The percentage of each agency's funds that go to black schools varies.

The report also said that the advisers "expect that all covered departments and agencies will take our recommendations into consideration in formulating ... their fiscal year 2004 budgets."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education, one of government's largest funding bodies for public universities, said it has a budget of $18.5 billion for higher education in fiscal 2002.

Currently, between 3 percent and 6 percent of that goes to historically black schools, where 14 percent of all black college students are enrolled. …