Published Online:

Capital Digest

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

The time is not ripe for legislation tightening national school-bus safety standards, Diane Steed, administrator of the National Highway Safety Administration, has told a House transportation subcommittee.

Ms. Steed appeared last month at a hearing on bus-safety issues held in the wake of a May accident that killed 27 people in Kentucky.

The accident--in which an allegedly drunk driver collided head-on with a former school bus owned by a church group--spurred the agency to undertake a review of safety standards, she noted. The study is to be completed this month.

Ms. Steed argued that proposals for new legislation are premature until that and another major study of the issue have been completed.

The nhsa and the National Science Foundation have been collaborating for more than a year on a bus-safety study, which is scheduled for completion early next year.

Ms. Steed said that the Kentucky crash might have been less disastrous if a relatively new bus had been involved. School buses built after 1977 are subject to more extensive safety standards than those that applied when the bus in the accident was built. She noted that the 1977 changes appear to have helped reduce dangers to bus occupants.

The Reagan Administration's budget policies have cut federal domestic-spending programs by a total of $159 billion since 1981, according to a new report by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.

The cumulative figure represents the difference between actual spending and the larger amount the union says was needed to maintain the levels of service provided when Mr. Reagan took office.

Compensatory education, student aid, and child nutrition are among the programs highlighted by the report, entitled "The Republican Record."

It estimates that 200 domestic programs would have required $2.24 trillion from fiscal year 1982 through fiscal year 1988, in order to maintain 1981 service levels. Actual spending, however, reached only $2.08 trillion.

Funding for the Chapter 1 compensatory-education program has lagged by a total of $4.7 billion, and student aid has been cut by $3.3 billion, according to afscme.

The report charges that a $910-million shortfall in funding for school-nutrition programs has caused a 12 percent decrease since 1980 in the number of children being served.

It concedes that half of the 12 education-related programs studied received more than enough over the past seven years to maintain 1981 service levels. But, it argues, the increases were offset by heavy cuts in other programs.

Education programs overall have received $11.1 billion less than needed, according to the report.

A collection of speeches by Secretary of Education William J. Bennett, is due to arrive in bookstores next week.

The book, Our Children and Our Country, touches most of the topics Mr. Bennett has focused on during his tenure in Washington, including education reform, aids, drug use, and the importance of character education.

Its publisher, Simon & Schuster, touts the essays as "the educational and political convictions of a remarkable public servant."

Mr. Bennett will receive no compensation for the book. The publisher will donate part of the proceeds to the Education Department's school-recognition program.

Reimbursement rates for the federal school-breakfast program will increase, under legislation cleared by the Congress.

The comprehensive nutrition bill, which awaits the President's signature, raises breakfast reimbursements by 3 cents per meal.

The measure also expands reimbursements to day-care centers and private institutions offering summer programs.

A new federally funded board to monitor the quality of U.S. educational data used in international comparisons has been established by the National Research Council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Board on International Comparative Studies in Education will work to ensure that the data are accurate and reliable and will produce fair comparisons. It will also review proposals for cooperative research with other countries, assist in the planning of cross-cultural studies, and disseminate research findings.

The 13-member board, formed in response to a request from the National Science Foundation and the Education Department's center for education statistics, is funded by a $150,000 nsf contract. Chaired by Norman M. Bradburn, provost of the University of Chicago, the panel includes prominent civil-rights and testing experts.

A $2.5-billion measure that would subsidize child care for poor and middle-income families was approved by the House Education and Labor Committee last month.

The bill, passed by a 19-to-14 vote, also would provide funds to expand the supply of child-care services, train day-care providers, and establish a national commission to set safety standards.

The Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee approved a companion measure in July, but floor action has not yet been scheduled in either chamber.

Representative James M. Jeffords of Vermont was the sole Republican on the House panel to vote for the measure. Two Democrats, Timothy Penny of Minnesota and Pat Williams of Montana, opposed it.

The committee adopted amendments to the bill that would lower the maximum age for receiving child-care services from 15 to 12; guard against the hiring of potential

child- or drug-abusers in federally funded facilities; and create a national commission to explore "public-private approaches" to child care.

Sherwin T.S. Chan has been appointed by President Reagan to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to serve the 14 months remaining in the term of Clarence M. Pendleton Jr., who died in June.

Mr. Chan, whose background in education includes serving as co-founder and vice president of the Chinese Parents and Teachers Association of Southern California, is the first Asian-American appointed to the rights commission in its 30-year history.

He also serves as an officer in two of the campaign organizations of the Republican Presidential candidate, George Bush, and was a delegate to the 1988 Republican convention.

President Reagan also promoted William B. Allen to serve as the commission's chairman. Mr. Allen, who was appointed to the panel in 1987, is professor of government at Harvey Mudd College in California.

Legislation aimed at making technological assistance more accessible to handicapped adults and students has been signed by President Reagan.

The new law authorizes an appropriation of $9 million the first year to help up to 10 states create programs that provide the handicapped with information on obtaining and using the devices.

A major review of the Job Training Partnership Act program will be undertaken by a new advisory committee appointed by the Labor Department.

The committee includes j.t.p.a. practitioners, educators, representatives of public-interest groups, and business and labor leaders.

The panel will study such issues as whom the program should serve, what services it should provide, and how the quality of services can be improved. It will also consider whether j.t.p.a. programs should try to coordinate their activities more closely with non-j.t.p.a. service providers.

The group plans to issue an interim report in January.

Efforts to teach high-school and college students about soil and water conservation and natural-resource management will be expanded, under an agreement signed last week by Bonnie Guiton, assistant secretary for vocational and adult education, and George S. Dunlop, the Agriculture Department's assistant secretary for natural resources and the environment.

The agreement is designed to foster a partnership between the Future Farmers of America, a student organization chartered by the Congress, and local farmers in designing soil- and water-conservation plans.

The 40 percent of American farmers who have highly erodible land must develop conservation plans by 1990 in order to remain eligible for certain u.s.d.a. program benefits.

Web Only

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login | Register
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories