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The National Science Foundation plans to create regional science-education resource centers to help the agency "significantly expand" its efforts to improve precollegiate instruction over the next five years.

The proposed centers would offer inservice instruction and information on effective curricula and teaching techniques, according to John H. Moore, the foundation's deputy director. They are expected to focus on the need to increase participation in science and engineering by women, minorities, and the handicapped.

The proposal was included in the nsf's "long-range plan" for fiscal years 1989 to 1993. The 16-page document is expected to serve as a framework for the agency in preparing its budget requests. The Congress has authorized a doubling of the agency's budget over the five-year period.

The Phoenix Indian School, threatened with closing as a result of a federal land deal, will remain open until 1991, under legislation approved by the Congress.

The school is located on part of 104 acres of valuable federally owned land in downtown Phoenix, which the Congress agreed to trade for a tract of environmentally sensitive swampland in Florida.

The school faced an uncertain future until Senator Dennis DeConcini, Democrat of Arizona, attached an amendment to the land-swap bill allowing the boarding school for Indians to continue operation until 1991, when the deal is expected to be completed.

The federal government will also receive at least $80 million in the trade. Of that amount, $35 million will go into trust funds to finance new education programs for Indian children in Arizona.

Few regulations exist to protect the safety of young children on playgrounds, a new federal study has found.

According to the report by the Centers for Disease Control, construction workers may be protected more thoroughly than preschool children at play.

Although falls account for 60 percent of the injuries sustained by preschool-age children on playgrounds, few safety guidelines have been developed to minimize their potential harm, said the agency.

For young children, the study noted, a fall of as little as one foot onto a hard surface could be fatal. Yet about half of all day-care playground equipment is not installed over impact-absorbing surfaces, such as mats or wood chips, the agency estimated.

While federal job-safety regulations in some cases require guardrails to protect workers who are only four feet above the ground, no such regulations are in effect for playground equipment, which can exceed 10 feet in height.

The report recommends that equipment be installed over softer surfaces, and be properly anchored and maintained.

Representative Bill Goodling, Republican of Pennsylvania, has joined a group of Democrats in criticizing the appointment of three members of the new governing board for the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

In a letter to Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos, the senior Republican on the House subcommittee on elementary, secondary, and vocational education charged that the appointments flouted Congressional intentions in establishing the board. The three members are Chester E. Finn Jr., the Education Department's former assistant secretary for educational research and improvement; Mark D. Musick, vice president of the Southern Regional Education Board; and Herbert J. Walberg, professor of education at the University of Illinois.

Unlike Democratic critics, however, Mr. Goodling did not specifically ask Mr. Cavazos to withdraw the appointments. (See Education Week, Oct. 12, 1988.)

The nation should "break through the convention of 12 years of education" and expand the normal duration of formal schooling to 14 years, suggests Senator Claiborne Pell, Democrat of Rhode Island and chairman of the Senate education subcommittee.

"Now is the time to push, and push hard, to see that we go at least as far as 14 years," Mr. Pell said last month in an address to the American Association of Community and Junior Colleges.

The increasing demands of the workplace early in this century, he noted, led states to convert from 6 or 8 years of formal education to 12.

Mr. Pell said that jumping from 12 to 14 years of guaranteed education would be a step toward his "personal dream" of 16 years of education for all students.

An aide for the education subcommittee said the Senator plans to "start looking at" the idea during the next Congress, but does not have specific legislation in mind.

Four senators have filed a brief in support of a severely handicapped boy who has been denied special-education services on the grounds that he is not "capable of benefiting" from them.

The ruling against the boy by a federal district judge has been opposed by the Justice Department and several handicapped-rights groups. The decision is being appealed. (See Education Week, Oct. 12, 1988.)

The brief was signed by two Democrats, Tom Harkin of Iowa and Paul Simon of Illinois, and two Republicans, Robert T. Stafford of Vermont and Lowell P. Weicker Jr. of Connecticut. All four served in the 100th Congress on the subcommittee that oversees special education.

Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos last week named as his chief of staff Bill R. Phillips, a former journalist with a long political resume.

Mr. Phillips, who helped manage this year's Republican National Convention, has served most recent4ly as chief of staff to the Republican National Committee's chairman, Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., and as executive director of a political-action committee chaired by Vice President George Bush.

White House officials "recommended" the appointment, according to Mahlon Anderson, Mr. Cavazos' spokesman.

A New York company that operates a chain of hair and beauty schools has been charged with attempting to defraud the Education Department of student-financial-aid funds.

The Wilfred American Educational Corporation, along with its president, Philip E. Jakeway Jr., and 18 employees, was indicted last month by a federal grand jury in Tampa, Fla.

The indictment alleges that the of8fenses--including making false statements, embezzlement, wire fraud, and racketeering--arose out of the company's operation of the Wilfred Academies of Hair and Beauty Culture in three Florida cities.

Wilfred operates proprietary schools in 10 states, and its students receive approximately $75 million a year in federal education money. It is one of the nation's five largest trade-school corporations in terms of federal aid, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney's office in Tampa.

In a statement issued through the company's lawyers, Wilfred officials said they expect "a successful defense" against the charges. The alleged illegalities occurred more than three years ago, and involved less than $200,000 in student aid, the statement said.

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