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The Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee has approved the nomination of Thomas W. Payzant to be assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, but opposition from conservatives has delayed consideration by the full Senate.

The Senate panel voted 13 to 4 last month to confirm Mr. Payzant, a former San Diego school superintendent. Some senators opposed his nomination because of his role in barring the Boy Scouts from conducting programs in the city's schools during school hours.

Mr. Payzant and the San Diego school board said the Scouts' exclusion of homosexuals violated the district's antidiscrimination policy.

Sen. Daniel R. Coats, R-Ind., criticized the Clinton Administration for appointing people who he said had demonstrated bias against the Boy Scouts.

"I think it's ridiculous to suggest that this Administration is engaged in some sort of anti-Boy Scout crusade,'' Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill., said.

Although Mr. Payzant is widely expected to win confirmation, a final vote has been delayed to let his supporters lock up the 60 votes they need to win.

In other action, the committee unanimously approved the nomination of Sheldon Hackney, a former president of the University of Pennsylvania, to be chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Mr. Hackney has drawn fire over his handling of controversies at the university involving race and freedom of speech.

Congress voted last week to continue the Migrant Student Record Transfer System, but even the bill's sponsors favor eliminating the system eventually.

The system, which tracks the school records of migrants, would have shut down last week if Congress had not acted.

HR 2683 extended the system until June 1995, which gives lawmakers time to consider the issue when the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is reauthorized next year.

Meanwhile, the chairman and ranking Republican of the House Education and Labor Committee last week introduced a migrant-education reauthorization proposal that calls for eliminating the system in favor of a more efficient substitute.

The bill also would extend services only to children who have moved within the previous 24 months and would mandate summer programs.

The U.S. Supreme Court said last week that a special school district created for a Hasidic Jewish community in New York State can stay open pending its appeals of a state court ruling that its creation was unconstitutional.

The High Court stayed a ruling by New York State's highest court, the Court of Appeals, that would have dissolved the special school district before the start of the coming school year.

The New York court ruled on July 6 that the state legislature violated the First Amendment's ban against a government establishment of religion when it created the Kiryas Joel village district.

The district serves students with disabilities from the sect, located about 50 miles northwest of New York City.

The sect teaches nondisabled students in religious schools. The legislature created the district in 1989 to settle a dispute over where and how the community's approximately 200 disabled students would be educated.

The district asked for the stay so it could keep operating while it filed a formal appeal to the High Court.

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, who oversees the federal judicial circuit that includes New York State, issued a temporary stay, which the full Supreme Court affirmed July 26.

Donald R. Wurtz, author of a General Accounting Office report critical of the Education Department's management, will be nominated as the department's chief financial officer.

The Clinton Administration announced the choice of Mr. Wurtz, director of financial integrity issues at the G.A.O., last week.

President Clinton has nominated Neal F. Lane, a physicist and a provost at Rice University, to head the National Science Foundation, the agency that provides the bulk of federal funding for precollegiate science and mathematics education.

Mr. Neal would succeed Walter E. Massey, an outspoken advocate for K-12 programs.
Martin Manley, a California-based labor and management consultant, has been nominated to head the new Office of the American Workplace in the Labor Department.

The office will promote the Administration's ideas for creating high-skills, high-wage companies. A department spokesman said it has not been decided whether the agency will play a role in coordinating the Administration's school-to-work initiative or its effort to create national skills standards.

Mr. Manley is currently a partner in Waterman and Miller, a consulting firm in San Francisco.

The Education Department last month said the default rate on student loans fell between fiscal years 1990 and 1991 because of a crackdown on deadbeats.

The rate dropped from 22.4 percent in fiscal 1990 to 17.5 percent in fiscal 1991, and it dropped in all postsecondary sectors, the department said.

Defaulted loans are expected to cost taxpayers $2.5 billion in fiscal 1993, compared with $3.6 billion in 1991.

The department declined to release fiscal 1991 default rates for particular institutions, citing controversy over the accuracy of default data supplied by guaranty agencies and lenders.

The Education Department may be underestimating the government's liabilities related to the Federal Family Education Loan Program because of "unreliable'' data supplied by guaranty agencies, the General Accounting Office concludes in a new report.

As of Sept. 30, 1992, the department reported $13.7 billion in liabilities.

"Due to the number of entities involved and the range of errors found, we were not able to practically determine the potential magnitude of such errors and their effect on the [loan program's] liabilities for loan guarantees,'' the report said.

Program costs, it added, have been determined "using some assumptions which were substantially more optimistic than historical data would support.''

In addition, the G.A.O. warned, fiscal 1992 default costs could be as high as $3.9 billion, rather than the $2.6 billion set aside in the fiscal 1992 budget. Fiscal 1993 default costs, meanwhile, could be as much as $3.8 billion, or $1.5 billion more than estimated.

The Environmental Protection Agency released guidelines last month for protecting children and nonsmokers from secondhand tobacco smoke.

The agency urged parents not to smoke in the presence of children. It also suggested that entities dealing with children, such as schools and day-care centers, set policies to protect them from exposure to smoke.

At a congressional hearing on the new policy last month, Administrator Carol M. Browner of the E.P.A. said exposure to secondhand smoke is "a serious and substantial public health risk,'' especially for young children.

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