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E.D. Urged To Delay Rules On Race-Based Scholarships

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WASHINGTON--The chairmen of eight Congressional committees last week asked Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander to refrain from issuing final regulations on race-exclusive scholarships until after he has reviewed a General Accounting Office study on the matter that is now under way.

In a letter dated April 21, the eight Democrats said the department does not have enough information about race-exclusive scholarships to make an informed decision. They also said the department should consider how its policy determination would affect other laws.

The letter said that although three higher-education organizations provided data to the department during a 90-day open-comment period that closed March 9, they did not define "race exclusive'' or "minority'' scholarships uniformly. The organizations also did not take into account scholarships for ethnic minorities or state-sponsored scholarship programs.

Other Minorities Affected

Moreover, said the lawmakers, "the legal rationale underlying any new policy for scholarships for racial and national-origin minorities will affect women, the disabled, and other groups'' protected by federal civil-rights laws.

The G.A.O. study, which began about one month ago and is expected to take about six months to complete, would address those concerns, the letter noted.

Etta Fielek, a spokesman for the Secretary, said Mr. Alexander is considering the request to delay action.

She said Mr. Alexander is reviewing comments on the proposal, and would not be prepared to issue final regulations on the matter until at least late May.

Senators Who Signed

The Senators who signed the letter are: Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who chairs the Labor and Human Resources Committee; Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, who chairs the Judiciary Committee; Paul Simon of Illinois, who chairs the Subcommittee on Employment and Productivity; and Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island, who chairs the Subcommittee on Education, Arts, and the Humanities.

Representatives William D. Ford of Michigan, who chairs the Education and Labor Committee; Jack Brooks of Texas, who chairs the Judiciary Committee; John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, who chairs the Government Operations Committee; and Don Edwards of California, who chairs the Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights, also signed the letter.

"The extension of adequate financial assistance to minority students is critical to assuring their matriculation at American colleges and universities,'' the committee chairmen said in closing the letter, "and that the nation fulfills its commitment to equal opportunity in higher education.''

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