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Two Months and Counting: Naming Of Standards Panel Behind Schedule

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Washington

Two months after the deadline, President Clinton still has not received a full slate of nominees for a council that will approve national academic standards.

Congress created the 19-member National Education Standards and Improvement Council as part of the Goals 2000: Educate America Act. It will certify voluntary national standards and state standards and assessments that are submitted for its approval.

The law called for the council to be in place by August. But it created a cumbersome nominating process in which Congressional leaders, the Secretary of Education, and the National Education Goals Panel must submit names to the President.

So far, only the goals panel has met its obligation. In July, it forwarded 12 names to Mr. Clinton.

Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley is waiting to submit his 21 names after he sees whom the Speaker of the House and the Senate majority leader recommend, said Michael Cohen, a senior adviser to the Secretary.

He said Mr. Riley is withholding his nominations to insure that Mr. Clinton has a balanced slate of candidates from which to choose. "We don't want to confront the President with a disjointed slate of nominees from which he can't put together a representative and coherent panel," Mr. Cohen said.

Once the Congress submits its names, he added, the Secretary is prepared to act quickly.

But Congress is unlikely to submit its nominees before next week's elections, according to legislative aides. Even then, the appointments could be further delayed by background checks.

Meanwhile, the council, known as NESIC, has its work cut out for it. Proposed national standards in the arts, civics, geography, mathematics, U.S. history, and social studies have already been released. And more standards are due soon.

Skills Board Also Lags

A board to set voluntary national skills standards for occupations is also off to a slow start.

Congress did not set a deadline for appointing the National Skills Standards Board, which it also created as part of Goals 2000. But Labor Department officials had hoped to see it up and running by this fall. Instead, it looks as though the earliest the board will meet is January.

Senate leaders last month appointed five of their six members to the 28-member board.

Speaker of the House Thomas S. Foley, D-Wash., has received three recommendations from the House minority leader but is awaiting names from the House majority leader. Until then, a Congressional aide said, Mr. Foley cannot make any appointments.

President Clinton may announce his 12 selections within the next few weeks, said Michaela Meehan, the skills-standards leader for the Labor Department.

Besides the 24 Presidential and Congressional appointments, four members serve in a nonvoting capacity: the secretaries of Labor, Education, and Commerce, and the NESIC chairman.

So far, the Senate majority leader, George J. Mitchell, D-Me., has appointed E. William Crotty, a lawyer with the Florida firm of Black, Crotty, & Sims; Katherine Schrier, the administrator of an education fund for the Association of State and Federal Municipal Employees in New York City; and Michael P. Riccards, the president of Shepherd College in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

The Senate minority leader, Bob Dole, R-Kan., has named Bruce Carswell, the vice president for human resources for the GTE Corporation of Stamford, Conn., and Stephen L. Sayler, an employment manager of Winning Ways Inc. in Olathe, Kan. Mr. Dole's final selection will represent organized labor.

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