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Conferees Make Progress On Child-Care Measure

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Conferees from the House Education and Labor and Senate Labor and Human Resources committees made progress last week in reconciling some of their differences over child-care legislation.

But the conferees left unresolved several controversial items, including whether school districts should be required to contract with other providers for child care for school-age children; whether preschool programs should be accorded a higher priority for funding than before- and after-school child care; and how funds should be allocated.

Once conferees reach an agreement, the sections of the bill under their jurisdiction will have to be merged with those under the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees.

Those panels had made little progress by last week in resolving differences over portions of the bill pertaining to child-care tax credits and the use of Title XX block-grant funds for child care.

The education conferees agreed last week on several modifications to a portion of the Senate bill that would provide direct grants to day-care providers. But some conferees warned that President Bush would veto a bill with that component, and argued that a majority of House members would prefer to channel the funds through Title XX.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has approved a bill doubling the authorization for loans and grants for school-asbestos projects.

The committee voted to reauthorize the 1984 Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Act at $250 million annually through 1995. The current funding ceiling is $125 million, although the Congress has appropriated only about $50 million annually.

The committee amended the bill to require the Environmental Protection Agency to tell schools that they are not required to remove asbestos and can instead chose less expensive ways of controlling the substance.

A proposed interagency council on science and mathematics education would duplicate the Bush Administration's current efforts, officials argued last week.

Thomas Ratchford, associate director of the White House office of science and technology policy, said at a hearing of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee that the Administration is furthering interagency cooperation through an education subcommittee of the new Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering and Technology.

But Senator John Glenn, chief sponsor of legislation to create an interagency council, said his proposal would be superior to the Administration's current effort because itel10lwould create a permanent council headed by the President's science adviser.

In addition, Mr. Glenn said, the bill would require the panel to report to the Congress and would mandate a study of federal science-education programs.

American schools' lopsided interest in college-bound students has helped create a pool of 9 million youths who lack the skills to do entry-level work, a new General Accounting Office report argues.

Educators' disinterest in work-bound youths contrasts sharply with schools in other industrial nations, the report suggests.

Copies of "Training Strategies: Preparing Noncollege Youth for Employment in the U.S. and Foreign Countries," (HRD-90-88) are available for free from the U.S. General Accounting Office, P.O. Box 6015, Gaithersburg, Md. 20877.

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