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William Bradford Reynolds, assistant attorney general for civil rights, this month told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit that a federal judge illegally extended his authority and misinterpreted a 1980 consent decree when he ordered the U.S. government to pay Chicago schools $103.8 million in desegregation aid for this year and more in subsequent years. (See Education Week, Aug. 29, 1984.)

Mr. Reynolds reiterated the U.S. Justice Department's position that the government is not bound by the vague language of the consent decree to a broad funding plan for Chicago and that U.S. District Judge Milton I. Shadur's Aug. 13 order to that effect violated the constitutional separation of powers.

"For the first time in over 200 years, a member of this judiciary has directed the President of the United States on how to conduct himself in the legislative arena," Mr. Reynolds said.

The appeals court, which had temporarily blocked an order requiring the government to pay Chicago $28.8 million immediately, is expected to rule on the government's appeal by the end of September.

Theodore R. Sizer, chairman of the education department at Brown University and author of Horace's Compromise, has proposed that superior high-school students be offered free tuition at any of their state's public colleges and universities.

Speaking at a Williams College convocation, Mr. Sizer recommended that, for example, Massachusetts students who demonstrate their proficiency in five areas be awarded a new "Horace Mann Scholar's Diploma" that would entitle them to a free education at any state college or university. The five areas are: communications skills, mathematics and science, literature and the arts, history and civics, and foreign languages and culture.

"Students know that they have to perform well, not just serve time,'' Mr. Sizer said of the plan. "And they know they will get both a sense of warm accomplishment and substantial benefits if they succeed."

Under the proposal, a student would prove his or her prowess by taking tests or carrying out some other set of tasks demonstrating capability. According to Mr. Sizer, the exercises would be set by state-appointed committees or administered by professional and scholarly associations, such as the College Board.

The Auburn, Me., school board has denied a request by the parents of a 9-year-old student for permission to enroll their daughter in courses at the University of Maine at Augusta.

William and Andrea Cutler requested permission to enroll their daughter, Jenny Cutler, in the university for the second consecutivend to provide the balance of her education at home. Board members voted on Sept. 5 to deny that re-quest until Jenny takes a test showing what she learned last year.

The Cutlers, who have appealed the board's decision to the Maine Department of Education, were told by department officials that they will probably approve the necessary waiver to allow Jenny to attend the university.

Roy D. Loux, superintendent of the Auburn schools, said the district must administer some kind of assessment to monitor Jenny's instruction. The girl's mother said last week that proposal "was just not appropriate" but declined to comment further.

Representative Augustus F. Hawkins, Democrat of California, has been officially installed as chair-man of the House Education and Labor Committee by the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.

First elected in 1962, Representative Hawkins now serves as chairman of the employment-opportunities subcommittee of the Education and Labor Committee. According to a spokesman in Representative Hawkins's office, the Congressman has not yet decided whether to move to another panel chairmanship--specifically, the elementary, secondary, and vocational-education subcommittee, which opened up after the death last month of the former committee chairman, Representative Carl D. Perkins, Democrat of Kentucky. He will, however, relinquish the chairmanship of the House Administration Committee.

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