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Court Rejects Fla. Suit On Immigration Costs

A federal judge in Miami has thrown out a lawsuit filed by Florida officials seeking to recoup an estimated $1.5 billion from the federal government for services the state provides to illegal immigrants.

Education makes up the bulk of the state's reported costs, with the rest divided among other social services and law enforcement.

U.S. District Judge Edward B. Davis acknowledged in his opinion late last month that states such as Florida carry a heavy financial load in serving illegal immigrants, but he said the matter of federal reimbursement is a political, not a legal, matter.

Gov. Lawton Chiles pledged to appeal the decision, calling the dismissal only a "temporary setback." But many observers said the ruling does not bode well for other states, such as California and Texas, that have filed similar suits. (See Education Week, 05/11/94 and related story.)

Observers also speculated that if such legal challenges fail, more states might consider measures similar to California's Proposition 187, which seeks to deny illegal immigrants most social services, including public education.

A federal judge recently issued a preliminary injunction against the measure until it goes to trial.

Clinic Finance: School-based health clinics, which fill a void in the health-care delivery system for children, face significant financing problems that imperil their mission, a new report from the General Accounting Office concludes.

"Private foundation funds that have played a large role in establishing new centers are frequently short-term, leaving centers with an uncertain future," the report says.

In addition, school-based health centers often have difficulties receiving reimbursement from public and private insurers because they may not be considered eligible health-care providers.

As a result, many of the 600 school-based clinics across the country limit their hours during the school year, eliminate costly procedures, and provide inadequate mental-health services, the study says.

Clinics that ally themselves with hospitals and community health centers had the most financial success.

Copies of the report, "Health Care: School-Based Health Centers Can Expand Access for Children," G.A.O./H.E.H.S.-95-35, are available for $2 each from the G.A.O., Box 6015, Gaithersburg, Md. 20884-6015; (202) 512-6000.

Gender Equity: The federal program that awards grants and contracts to help insure educational equity for girls and women should focus less on fixing past inequities and more on preventing new ones, the General Accounting Office recommends in a new report.

The Women's Educational Equity Act program has primarily addressed gender equity by financing local delivery of direct services, such as mathematics and science counseling, the G.A.O. found.

Instead, the program should pay for more projects that look at the policies and practices of a particular school or district--such as guidance counseling--to determine whether they are fair to girls, and if not, how they should be changed, said Kathleen D. White, the project manager for the report.

A recent doubling of the program's federal appropriation--from $1.98 million in fiscal 1994 to $3.97 million in this year--makes it even more important to get the most for each dollar spent, Ms. White said.

Though Congress reauthorized the law last October as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Ms. White said the G.A.O.'s recommendations remain "just as salient."

A single copy of "Women's Educational Equity Act: A Review of Program Goals and Strategies Needed," G.A.O./P.E.M.D.-95-6, is free from the G.A.O., Box 6015, Gaithersburg, Md. 20884-6015; (202) 512-6000.

Welfare Failure: The education-and-training program financed under the last major federal welfare-reform law, passed in 1988, has not helped large numbers of recipients get jobs or stay off public assistance, a recent report concludes.

The General Accounting Office study found that between 1991 and 1993, the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training program, known as jobs, reached only about 11 percent of the four million parents receiving welfare checks each month.

The study indicated, moreover, that most programs "were not well focused on employment" and failed to forge links with local employers that could help welfare clients obtain experience and jobs.

The report also maintains that jobs has not made enough progress in improving the outlook for those at risk of long welfare stays.

A 1992 review of 16 states, for example, showed that only 24 percent of teenage parents were enrolled in the program.

The G.A.O. suggests that states should be held accountable for the number of recipients who earn their way off welfare, rather than simply measuring how many people participate in jobs activities.

Single copies of the report, "Welfare to Work: Current a.f.d.c. Program Not Sufficiently Focused on Employment," G.A.O./H.E.H.S.-95-28, are available for $2 from the G.A.O., Box 6015, Gaithersburg, Md. 20884-6015; (202) 512-6000.

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