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Childhood mortality decreased significantly between 1977 and 1989, but the death rate for teenagers and young adults climbed, primarily as a result of an upturn in homicides among young black men, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

During the same period, the gap between the health status of blacks and whites also widened, according to the report, "Health, United States, 1991 and Prevention Profile,'' which charts the nation's first decadelong drive to achieve specific health goals.

For example, while the mortality rates for white and black infants both fell during the period, the rate for whites fell further, to 8.1 per 1,000 live births. The death rate for black infants fell to 18.6 per 1,000 live births.

Over all, infant mortality came close to the 1990 goal of 9.0 per 1,000 live births; the rate for the year was 9.1 per 1,000, according to provisional data.

Childhood mortality dropped 23 percent from 42.3 per 100,000 population in 1977 to 32.4 per 100,000 in 1989, the report states, surpassing the 1990 goal of 34 per 100,000. The decrease came largely through reductions in accidental injury deaths, including those from motor-vehicle crashes, drownings, and fires, the report concludes.

A group of national Hispanic organizations has pooled its resources to charter a new association to monitor federal initiatives in mathematics and science and education.

The Hispanic Secretariat on Mathematics and Science grew out of a summit meeting held in May by the Hispanic Linkages Project of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Science Foundation.

In one of their first actions, the 11 member organizations of the secretariat--which include the National Council of La Raza, the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers--have established a committee to monitorCongressional and federal education policies.

A second committee will lay the groundwork for founding a National Hispanic Academy of Sciences.

More than half of the nation's cities and towns are expecting negative balance sheets for the current fiscal year, according to a recent survey by the National League of Cities.

Of the 620 cities surveyed, 54 percent expect expenditures to exceed revenues, up from 52 percent in 1991.

According to Bill Barnes, the director of research and program development for the league, the cities' problems can be attributed to the current recession, the pressure of meeting federal and state mandates, continuing demand for services, and public resistance to new taxes.

As a result, cities are seeking to increase revenues, reducing spending, and drawing savings balances down.

Of the cities responding, 72 percent raised taxes and fees or imposed new ones, 73.4 percent reduced their spending growth rate, 44 percent froze municipal hiring, and 14 percent reduced city service levels.

The survey marks the second consecutive year that a majority of cities reported such severe fiscal conditions.

The New Standards Project has been awarded $8.5 million to continue its efforts to develop and implement a performance-based assessment system.

The project, a joint effort of the National Center on Education and the Economy and the Learning Reserach and Development Center at the University of Pittsburgh, received $5.5 million from The Pew Charitable Trusts and $3 million from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The money will be paid over three years.

The two foundations gave $2.5 million to launch the project in 1991.

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