News In Brief
Balanced-Budget Mandate Falls Short in Senate: The Senate last week rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would require a balanced federal budget. Most education lobbyists were relieved by the defeat of the measure.
Proponents fell four votes short of the two-thirds majority--67 votes--necessary to approve an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. An alternative measure, which would have exempted Social Security and public-works projects from cuts, also went down to defeat.
The education community traditionally has opposed a balanced-budget amendment, fearing that it would squeeze funding for education and other discretionary programs. The Clinton Administration also opposes the measure.
Despite the amendment's failure in the Senate, and the refusal of the majority leader, George J. Mitchell, D-Me., to allow another Senate vote this year, the House may vote on the measure as early as next week.
Bilingual Education: Limited-English-proficient students receive the bulk of their instruction in English, and many such students are not receiving the special help they need to succeed academically, the General Accounting Office concludes in a recent report.
The report discusses the growing number of L.E.P. students and details how much native-language instruction five districts with many such students are using to educate them.
The G.A.O. questioned whether L.E.P. students can achieve the high academic standards being developed at the national level given the "limited'' services available to them.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., who is the chairman of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, requested the report in preparation for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which includes federal funding for bilingual education.
While the report's title, "Limited English Proficiency: A Growing and Costly Educational Challenge Facing Many School Districts,'' suggests a cost analysis of bilingual programs, the report does not include a comparison of program costs for bilingual and nonbilingual instruction.
A free copy of the report can be obtained from the General Accounting Office, P.O. Box 6015, Gaithersburg, Md. 20884-6015; (202) 512-6000. Ask for report HEHS-94-38. Additional copies are $2 each.
Youth Crime: The Clinton Administration last week announced a federal effort to combat youth violence with the same tactics employed to fight organized crime and espionage.
The Justice Department, which will administer the Anti-Violent Crime Initiative, will name a team of prosecutors to aid federal, state, and local law-enforcement officers in tracking gang activity and train them in the use of wiretaps, stings, and other surveillance operations.
U.S. attorneys will also appoint local leaders to set up violent-crime working groups.
Child-Pornography Case: In a case being watched closely by several family and child-welfare groups, the U.S. Supreme Court last week agreed to decide whether a 1977 federal law against child pornography requires prosecutors to prove that distributors or recipients of such materials knew the performers were under age.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, overturning the conviction of a Los Angeles pornography distributor, last year held that the law violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution because it would allow some people to be prosecuted even though they were not aware that actors depicted in the pornography were under age 18.
The High Court will hear the case, U.S. v. X-Citement Video Inc. (Case No. 93-723), next term.