National News Roundup
The director of the federal program to promote educational equity for women, who was removed from her post last week in a reduction-in-force in the Education Department, has charged that her removal is part of a political effort to eliminate federal support for women's education programs.
The director, Leslie Wolfe, had been the focus of a longstanding dispute between groups that supported the federal women's program--known as the Women's Educational Equity Act--and the Reagan Administration, which sought unsuccessfully to abolish the program.
Ms. Wolfe's post was among 111 positions, many of them managerial, eliminated in what the Administration characterized as a move to improve the efficiency of program management. But members of Congress who support the program contended in a recent hearing that she was removed as part of an effort to de-emphasize an activity the Administration opposes. (See Education Week, Aug. 17, 1983.)
In the reduction-in-force, the professional staff of the women's program was reduced from six people to two. Ms. Wolfe was replaced by Cleve Haynes, a staff member who, as a veteran, has preferential status in federal employment.
"The biggest problem is that it damages this program beyond repair,'' Ms. Wolfe said in an interview. "It is no longer a [priority] pro-gram with a director. It is now a section of a branch of a division in the office that administers the block-grant program."
Deadline Extended For Draft Sign-up
The U.S. Education Department announced this month that college students receiving financial aid will be given an extra month, until Oct. 1, to comply with the law requiring them to register for the draft.
Department regulations originally required students to sign up by July 1, but this spring Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell extended the deadline to Sept. 1.
Before breaking for its summer recess, the Senate added an amendment to the Defense Department authorization bill for the fiscal year 1984 calling for the latest deadline extension. House and Senate conferees agreed to the amendment, but the revised version of the bill will not reach the floor of either chamber until Sept. 12.
Income Disparity For Black Americans Still Pronounced
Two decades of progress in education and civil rights have not brought economic equality for black Americans, according to a study issued last month by the Washington-based Center for Social Policy.
The report, "A Dream Deferred: The Economic Status of Black Americans," found "wide economic disparities" between blacks and whites in earnings, unemployment, and poverty rates. The study's conclusions were based on comparisons of 1960 and 1980 census data and other government statistics.
The gap exists despite the fact that blacks have made significant gains in educational attainment. Between 1960 and 1980, the median level of education among blacks increased from 7.7 years to 12.1 years.
However, blacks still earn less than whites of comparable educational backgrounds.
The report notes that 35.5 percent of white heads of households with four or more years of college, earn more than $40,000 annually, while only 18.1 percent of blacks in that category earn that much.
The explanation for the economic disparity, the report contends, lies in the increasing number of black families headed by women and in the decreasing proportion of employed black men.
About 47 percent of black families were headed by women in 1981, compared to about 14 percent of white families. Only 55 percent of the black male population was employed in 1982, compared to 75 percent in 1960.
Use of Libraries Found Outpacing Population Growth
The circulation of books from the nation's public libraries has expanded more than twice as fast as the U.S. population over the last 40 years, according to a University of Illinois researcher.
Based on a yearly survey of 53 representative public libraries serving communities of 25,000 or more people, Herbert Goldhor found that library circulation between 1941 and 1982 grew by 160 percent, while the U.S. population grew by only 70 percent during that period.
Mr. Goldhor attributes the increase in circulation to a number of factors: New and more modern facilities attract the public; libraries now offer more variety in circulation materials, including video cassettes, records, tapes, prints, and movies; more books are being published; and library networks make difficult-to-locate items more accessible to borrowers.
In 1981, national circulation figures exceeded a billion for the first time and in 1982, they reached the 1.07-billion mark.
"Over the last 10 years, American public libraries and librarians have been doing a great job," said Mr. Goldhor.
But the use of libraries by children has not kept up with the pace set by adults, according to Mr. Goldhor, who is director of the Library Research Center in Urbana, Ill. The researcher offers several explanations for this finding, including an increase in the quality of school libraries, a decrease in the number of children in the country, and the rise in television watching.