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Federal File: Appointments Approved; New Jobs Program; Whither Literacy Program?; No 'Food' Federalism, Pls

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The Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee managed to find time during its hectic schedule last week to approve the nominations of five people to high posts in the Education Department.

That move cleared the way for the full Senate to act on the appointments of: Gary M. Jones, to undersecretary of education; Harry M. Singleton, to assistant secretary for civil rights; Lawrence F. Davenport, to assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education; Gary L. Bauer, to deputy secretary for planning and budget; and Charles L. Heatherly, to deputy undersecretary for management.

Committee staff members said last Thursday that there was "no way of telling" whether the full Senate would find the time to act on those appointments before embarking on a two-month recess at the end of the week.

Earlier last month, the Senate committee was unable to gather a quorum in order to act on the nominations.

The chairman of the committee, Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, sheepishly told the prospective appointees that he and his colleagues had trouble getting to the 9:30 A.M. confirmation hearing on time as a result working late the night before.

Another Rights Rebuke

The Washington Council of Lawyers, an association of government and private attorneys, recently joined the civil-rights community in criticizing the Reagan Administration's record of enforcing civil-rights laws in education and other areas of American life.

A study by the council faulted the Justice Department's civil-rights division and its chief, William Bradford Reynolds, for failing to initiate any school-desegregation suits during the past 20 months and for dropping investigations that were pending when the Carter Administration left office.

Mr. Reynolds, the council said, "has attempted to return the law of school desegregation to the era of 'separate but equal' and has virtually denied the continuing existence of segregated schools."

Similar allegations have been leveled at the Administration by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, a lobbying group.

In response, J. Harvie Wilkinson 3rd, a deputy assistant attorney general, said that the Administration was planning to bring charges of racial bias against three school systems, which he would not name. He added that the previous Administration only filed two such lawsuits during its first 20 months.

Whither Literacy Program?

A state official and the Secretary of Education agreed at a Capitol Hill hearing last month that the federally supported adult-education program is helping to decrease the numbers of Americans who are "functionally illiterate," that is, who do not possess the reading and writing skills necessary for survival in modern society.

But they disagreed on whether the program needed to be modified. Secretary Terrel H. Bell said that although adult education helped 35,000 adults to remove themselves from public-assistance rolls during 1980, the program would be more efficient if it were combined with vocational education into a block grant.

The Congress has not been receptive to this proposal, and Judith A. Koloski of the Maryland education department voiced her opinion that the consolidation would be "inappropriate."

"We don't need a new system," she said, adding a plea for more federal funds to serve "the more than 20 million illiterate adults in our country."

No 'Food' Federalism, Pls

Opposition was also voiced by the House last week to the Reagan Administration's proposal to give to state governments complete responsibility for child-nutrition programs. The financing of such programs--including the school-lunch program--is currently shared by the local, state, and federal governments, but it would be "turned back" to states under the President's proposed "new federalism" plan.

Although that plan has been bogged down by disagreements between the Administration and the National Governors' Association, the House approved a resolution, H Con Res 384, "that the United States should maintain federal involvement in, and support for, the child-nutrition programs."

At a recent hearing of the Subcommittee on Elementary, Secondary, and Vocational Education, child-nutrition experts maintained that federal programs might not be continued by the states.

"The reason for the national programs in the first place was the failure of almost any state to address the issue of child malnutrition," Dr. Julius B. Richmond of the Harvard Medical School said at the hearing. "Federal child-nutrition programs did not grow out of state programs," he said.

--Tom Mirga and Eileen White

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