Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts last week proposed using the anticipated "peace dividend" to create a "national needs trust fund," which would be earmarked solely for "designated, critical investments" in education and for other domestic programs.
In a speech at Georgetown University, the chairman of the Labor and Human Resources Committee urged his fellow Democrats to stop "yielding ground" to President Bush. He argued that the party "has to state and stand for its own larger vision, true to its own character and soul."
The end of the Cold War offers Democrats the opportunity to champion solutions to urgent domestic problems without being "penalized" by voters for fiscal irresponsibility or weakness on defense, Mr. Kennedy said.
He said the federal budget deficit should be reduced by letting the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings process "run its course." He added that the $170 billion that he estimates could be pared from the defense budget over five years should be devoted to education, health care, housing, research, infrastructure improvements, and other expenditures to spur economic growth.
Secretary of Labor Elizabeth Dole has selected William Brock to head a panel of business, labor, and education leaders that will develop national competency guidelines for work readiness.
Mr. Brock served as labor secretary from 1985 to 1987 under former President Reagan.
The recommendations of the Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills will "serve as working definitions of what skills employers require on the job," Ms. Dole said in a speech to the Education Writers Association.
"Local schools and educators, as well as training programs, can use these guidelines to help develop relevant curricula for promotion and graduation," she said.
Ms. Dole noted that the panel "will not propose national standards that schools will be required to meet," and that it will not endorse a particular curriculum.
The eric Clearinghouse on Tests, Measurement, and Evaluation has produced three consumers' guides in an effort to help school administrators and the public understand and use standardized tests.
Understanding Achievement Tests is a 168-page book, written in non-technical language, that explains the different types of tests and test scores and ways to evaluate them. It also contains essays by testing experts on such subjects as coaching, curricular alignment, and explaining results to the news media.
Two other books, Guides to Reading Tests and Guides to Mathematics Tests, outline the content and structure of the 14 most commonly used tests in each subject.
The guides were prepared following a 1989 meeting at the Education Department to discuss a controversial study by a West Virginia physician that found that the overwhelming majority of elementary students scored above average on commercially available achievement tests.
But Lawrence M. Rudner, director of the eric clearinghouse, said the guides also fill a larger need for more information on such tests.
All three volumes are available from the eric Clearinghouse on Tests, Measurement, and Evaluation, American Institutes for Research, 3333 K St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20007. Understanding Achievement Tests costs $19.50; Guide to Reading Tests costs $25; and Guide to Mathematics Tests costs $40. There is a $5 shipping and handling charge for each order.
The Department of Agriculture has invited school officials to submit proposals for decreasing the amount of paperwork associated with administering the school breakfast and lunch programs.
A 1989 law requires the department to seek ideas for streamlining child-nutrition programs, the Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children, the Nutri8tion Education and Training Program, and the Food Distribution Program.
Comments are due by June 8. They should be sent to Terry Hallberg, Chief, Program Analysis and Monitoring Branch, Child Nutrition Division, Food and Nutrition Service, Room 515, Alexandria, Va. 22302.
Businesses have been more receptive than schools to the concept of participatory management, a report by the Labor Department concludes.
The report is based on a conference held by the federal agency last spring together with the American Federation of Teachers, the American Association of School Administrators, and the National Alliance of Business.
"Participatory Leadership: School and the Workplace" recommends steps that can be taken to foster cooperative efforts between teachers and administrators. It outlines experiments with such techniques in business and in public schools.
For information about the report, call John R. Stepp of the Labor Department's bureau of labor-management relations and cooperative programs at (202) 523-6045.
A government-sponsored national-service program would subvert the spirit of "true volunteerism," a study by the Cato Institute argues.
Doug Bandow, a syndicated columnist and senior fellow at the institute, says in the study that a more effective approach to societal problems would involve "more individual service," rather than more government programs.
Reviewing existing national-service proposals, the study concludes that "they all have the trappings of public-relations gimmicks and are potential pork barrels."
Mr. Bandow also predicts that federally funded national-service programs could be prohibitively expensive, and could "result in a bureaucratic nightmare."
Copies of "National Service: The Enduring Panacea," are available from the Cato Institute, 224 Second Street, S.E., Washington, D.C. 20003; (202) 546-0200.