Federal News Roundup
The Department of Justice announced last week that it will pursue an unprecedented lawsuit that charges the city of Yonkers, N.Y., with illegal segregation in both schools and housing.
Although residential segregation has been a factor in several school-desegregation suits in the past, the Yonkers case is the first to make it a formal part of the charges.
The suit, which was filed during the last weeks of the Carter Administration, alleges that the city has located public and low-income housing in such a way as to contribute significantly to the segregation of the schools.
It also charges the school board with intentionally segregative practices, including the drawing of attendance zones, faculty assignments based on race, and the "historical steering of minority students" into inferior academic and vocational programs and into special-education classes.
Yonkers, a suburb of New York City, has a public-school enrollment of approximately 20,600. Approximately 60 percent of the students are white, 22 percent black, 17 percent Hispanic, and 2 percent Asian.
Funds for Head Start, the federal preschool program for children from low-income families, should be reduced, and the program should be consolidated into a block-grants package to be administered by states, according to a new proposal by the Office of Management and Budget for fiscal 1983.
Programs for runaway youths and for the prevention of child abuse should be merged into the same block grant, the plan said.
The budget office's proposal, which would phase the $912-million Head Start program into block grants over a four-year period, reportedly is opposed by Richard S. Schweicker, secretary of health and human services.
Head Start, which was initiated in 1965 as part of the Johnson Administration's sweeping package of social- services legislation, served approximately 374,000 children last year.The program had been listed early this year by President Reagan as one of the "social safety net" programs that would be protected from budget cuts.
The federal Office of Management and Budget is said to be one of the few places in Washington this year where the Congressional budget process is truly understood.
Now, budget officials have decided to share their knowledge.
The budget office recently released a publication to explain to the general public the procedures used in the Administration's successful efforts to cut the federal budget. The free, 19-page budget primer explains the meaning of such terms as budget "resolutions," the "reconciliation" bill, and budget "deferrals." It also outlines the Administration's rationale for making use of those budget-cutting tools.
To receive a copy of "Understanding the Budget, Authorization, Appropriations, and Apportionment Process During 1981," write: omb, Publications Office, Room G-236, New Executive Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20500.
Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell characterized his vision of a national education foundation as "more like a rabbit than a cat," at a meeting last week of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Federalism.
A Cabinet-level agency "has claws like a cat," the Secretary explained.
"Yes, but I've been bitten by a rabbit," retorted Gov. Pierre S. du Pont of Delaware, a member of the committee's education subcommittee.
The Secretary's colorful manner of expression also cropped up when he told the group of state, local, and federal officials that two education-related decisions by federal courts--both currently on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court--are "loony."
Mr. Bell used the word to describe a case in which a Connecticut guidance counselor contends she was dismissed from her job in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. He expressed the same criticism of a federal appeals court decision ordering the state of Pennsylvania to provide free summer classes for handicapped students.
The Department of Education has again failed to meet its deadline for publication of the regulations governing education block grants, which will take effect next year.
The regulations were originally scheduled for publication in the Federal Register on or about Nov. 15. The publication date was subsequently changed to the middle of December.
Marie Robinson, a spokesman for the department, said last week that officials "have no idea" when the regulations will be completed.