Appeals Court Upholds Asbestos Regulations
A federal appeals court has upheld federal rules for asbestos in schools, rejecting claims by a group of former manufacturers of the substance that the regulations would encourage schools to undertake unnecessary and dangerous asbestos-removal projects.
The Safe Buildings Alliance, which had filed the suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, argued that the Environmental Proection Agency's regulations are inadequate because they do not establish a level at which asbestos exposure poses a risk to human health. (See Education Week, Nov. 25, 1987.)
The rules require all public and private schools to inspect for the cancer-causing substance by October, to remove or contain crumbling forms of the material, and to monitor all forms of asbestos when it is found.
Hearing Held on Proposed 'Official English' Bills
The House Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights heard opposing views this month on several proposals to enact a constitutional amendment making English the official language of the United States.
Backers of the proposals, which have more than 60 House sponsors, argued at the May 11 hearing that the lack of an official status for English discourages immigrants from becoming fluent in the language and threatens the "primacy'' of English in this country.
"If action is not taken soon, we could face a future of uncertainty in our basic communication, as well as ethnic and racial polarization,'' said Representative William S. Broomfield, Republican of Michigan. He said the amendment would not bar people from maintaining their native languages or restrict students from studying a second language.
Opponents countered that the vast majority of limited-English-speaking people seek to master English, and that the bill could impede their assimilation and threaten their civil rights.
"If it is a symbolic measure with no impact whatsoever on our rights, then it is a frivolous exercise,'' said Representative Albert G. Bustamante, the Texas Democrat who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. "If it restricts civil rights on the basis of one's proficiency in English, then it is a divisive and dangerous amendment.''
While most of the official-English measures make no specific reference to bilingual education, a proposal by Mr. Broomfield states that the amendment should not be used to bar "short-term educational programs'' that help children learn English.
Before the hearing, advocacy groups opposed to the amendment held a news conference urging the Congress to fund fully the English Literacy Grants Program, a measure enacted last month that authorizes $25 million in grants for English-literacy programs for limited-English-proficient adults and dropouts.
The Environmental Protection Agency would be required to develop guidelines for measuring radon levels in day-care centers, under a provision in a bill recently passed by a Senate panel.
The amendment, which would grant $5 million over five years for radon measurement and reduction efforts, is part of an omnibus bill on indoor-air quality that was adopted by the Senate Subcommittee on Environmental Protection.
The Senate has already approved a bill that would earmark $1.5 million for radon testing and abatement in schools. A similar bill is under consideration in the House.
A second House bill would ask the EPA to establish a new, tougher standard for the acceptable level of the gas per liter of air.
The Education Department has awarded a $628,000 grant to Florida State University to create a civilian model of the Army's Job Skills Education program.
The computer-based functional-literacy and basic-skills program is used by the Army and the General Motors Corporation to train recruits and workers in defense plants.
Under the 17-month contract, the university's center for educational technology will adapt the program for use in adult vocational education, adult basic-skills training, and Job Training Partnership Act programs.
New York, California, Delaware, and Indiana have been selected to
pilot-test the program.