Federal News Roundup
By an overwhelming margin, the Senate has approved $100 million in federal funds for programs aimed at using instructional television to improve science, mathematics, and foreign-language skills.
The measure, known as the "star schools act,'' would authorize the Education Department to award demonstration grants for the planning and creation of televised-teaching networks.
"Our proposal is to link together the universities, colleges, secondary schools, and businesses of this country by satellite, so that the best teaching resources will be available to all of our students,'' said Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Democrat from Massachusetts who is the measure's chief sponsor.
Under the proposed five-year program, the federal grants could be used by nonprofit "partnerships''--composed of state or local education agencies, universities, and public broadcasters--to provide telecommunications services to a select number of "star'' schools in remote and economically disadvantaged areas.
Although some Republican senators assailed the plan on fiscal and policy grounds, the Senate approved the measure with little debate late last month. The proposal received only 16 "no'' votes.
A similar but less generous telecommunications measure has been included in the massive package of trade legislation that the House is now considering. That bill would provide $10 million for instructional projects, and would require matching contributions from the states.
While the House Education and Labor Committee has approved the plan, its future is far from certain. The trade package also contains several highly controversial protectionist measures opposed by many House and Senate members as well as by President Reagan.