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Trade-Bill Veto May Affect Some Education Programs

The Senate last week approved HR 3, the massive trade measure that had been overwhelmingly passed by the House, but proponents came up three votes short of the margin needed to override a promised Presidential veto.

The bill's backers said they would push to widen support for the measure, adopted by a 63-to-36 vote. Some said a compromise bill acceptable to the Administration could be drafted--most likely by removing a provision that would require companies to give advance notice of a plant closing.

If the bill dies, more than $500 million in education programs and $1 billion in job-training authorizations would be in jeopardy.

The legislation authorizes for one year foreign-language, basic-skills, dropout-prevention, telecommunications, and mathematics and science programs also included in HR 5, the omnibus education bill recently signed into law by President Reagan. If the Congress fails to pass a trade bill, legislators would have to amend the new education law if those programs are to be authorized for 1989.

The trade bill also includes new literacy and vocational-education programs not included in the education law.

Bill Targets 'Spoils System' In Overseas Teaching Posts

Two House committees last week approved legislation that would remove some advantages the spouses of federal employees--particularly those in the military--have in competing for teaching positions in Defense Department schools overseas.

The legislation, HR 3424, would open up more overseas teaching jobs, in more desirable locations, for other teachers. It would require the department to give first priority in filling a vacancy to overseas teachers who want to transfer to another country, and second priority to new applicants. (See Education Week, Nov. 4, 1987.)

Spouses of government employees stationed in a particular country, as well as other locally hired teachers, could be tapped only as a last resort. They could also apply through the civil-service system like stateside recruits.

Military spouses would continue to enjoy a preference over other applicants in the same priority category, but they could no longer take desirable positions from transfer applicants.

The bill would also limit temporary teachers other than military spouses to one-year stints, and give permanent status and benefits to current long-term "temporaries.''

Representative William D. Ford, Democrat of Michigan and the bill's sponsor, said it is needed because a procedure created to allow temporary hires in emergency situations has turned into a "spoils system'' that is unfair to current and prospective career civil servants.

The Post Office and Civil Service Committee, which Mr. Ford chairs, passed the bill without amendment.

In the Education and Labor Committee, which has joint jurisdiction, Representative William F. Goodling, Republican of Pennsylvania, added an amendment allowing administrators to fill midyear vacancies locally.

The panel voted 22 to 7 to approve the bill. Opposition came from a group of Republicans led by Representative Paul B. Henry of Michigan.

It is easier and less expensive to fill teaching vacancies locally, Mr. Henry argued. Military spouses, he added, have a "sense of community'' with the bases where they are stationed, and provide more minority applicants than are available through the civil-service pool.

Secretary of Education William J. Bennett has sent letters to high-school principals nationwide urging them to review curricula to ensure that all students "understand the principles of our constitutional democracy.''

The letter specifically exhorts educators to impart an understanding of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the "Federalist Papers.'' A copy of a recent Congressional resolution urging the teaching of those "founding documents'' was included in the packet, along with a supporting letter from President Reagan.

The House Education and Labor Committee last week approved legislation correcting an error that has complicated school districts' efforts to plan their school-lunch programs.

Under a 1986 measure providing aid for the homeless, the date on which inflation adjustments are made to eligibility formulas for the school-lunch and food-stamp programs was moved from July 1 to Oct. 1. The switch made it difficult for schools to plan in advance for the number of students eligible for subsidies, panel members said.

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