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The newest component of the federal Educational Resources Information Center network, access eric, is now in operation.

The new service is designed to help people, particularly new or inexperienced users, benefit from the eric system, which includes 16 subject-area clearinghouses and a database containing more than 650,000 documents.

In June, the Education Department awarded Aspen Systems Corporation of Rockville, Md., a three-year contract, which could be worth more than $1.2 million, to operate access eric.

The company was to develop a smaller database that would direct users to information in the eric system, as well as to other research.

The firm has established a toll-free number, (800) use-eric, for users who do not have computers, need assistance, or would like to order publications.

In addition, access eric will work to publicize the resources available through the information system, and will publish a periodical announcing new publications and research available through the database.

The Senate has passed a measure reauthorizing the discretionary programs funded under the Education of the Handicapped Act through 1994.

Easily approved on Nov. 16, the bill makes modest changes in current special-education law. It authorizes $212.7 million for a range of programs, including some stepped-up efforts to: stem personnel shortages in the field, better serve emotionally disturbed children, and improve the system for disseminating special-education research.

Leaders of the House Select Education Subcommittee have been working to reconcile two draft versions of the bill.


President Bush's Education Policy Advisory Committee devoted some of its first meeting, held last week, to discussing the setting of national educational goals.

Participants at the Nov. 21 meeting said that, rather than concentrate on producing a formal written report, the group will focus its initial meetings on formulating educational goals for recommendation to the President. The council's nearly three-hour session was followed by a brief visit with Mr. Bush.

The 23-member council was appointed by Mr. Bush this month. (See Education Week, Nov. 8, 1989.)

The group's will discuss literacy at its January meeting.

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