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Congress Returns: One More Month and Out

Congress returned to work last week with several education-related bills to consider.

Topping the list is the Department of Education spending bill for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. The House has passed its Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill, HR 3755. The Senate subcommittee with jurisdiction over that chamber's version of the bill may take it up this week.

The spending bill, however, could get rolled into a larger appropriations bill.

Congress, which plans to adjourn by the end of this month, also may consider compromise legislation that would revamp the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. While the House has passed its bill, HR 3268, the Senate version, S 1578, has yet to come to the floor.

A conference committee is expected to meet to discuss differing versions of a bill to reform policies affecting illegal immigrants. One contentious issue is a House provision that would allow states to deny a free public education to the children of illegal immigrants.

And while House and Senate conferees agreed to a compromise bill to consolidate vocational-education programs, some observers speculate that neither chamber will consider HR 1617 before adjournment.

FCC Approves Compromise With TV Executives

Accepting a compromise between the television industry and advocates for children's educational television, the Federal Communications Commission issued rules on Aug. 8 that will require television broadcasters to air a minimum of three hours of educational programming weekly. ("TV Executives Will Add Children's Programs," Aug. 7, 1996.)

For more than a year, the commissioners could not agree on rules to clarify the requirements of the Children's Television Act of 1990. Two commissioners, reflecting industry positions, had argued that strict educational-programming requirements would violate broadcasters' First Amendment rights.

The new plan, while tightening the definition of "educational," gives broadcasters greater flexibility to count televised specials and other programs--and even financial contributions to other broadcasters--toward the requirement.

KinderCare Settles Day-Care Case With Justice

In a settlement that concludes a legal battle over the rights of children with diabetes to have access to day care, the largest child-care provider in the United States has agreed to enroll diabetic children and administer blood-sugar tests, the Department of Justice has announced.

The department negotiated the settlement, filed in a federal district court earlier this year, between KinderCare Learning Centers Inc., based in Montgomery, Ala., and the mother of a 3-year-old diabetic boy who was denied enrollment at a Columbus, Ohio, center because it barred staff members from performing the medical procedure.

Under the agreement, each of KinderCare's 1,200 centers will be required to administer the blood-glucose test, record the results, and give any child tested a glass of juice or piece of fruit if needed. Diabetics do not produce enough of the hormone insulin, which regulates glucose levels. The test helps determine if the blood sugar is too high or too low.

Attorney General Janet Reno applauded the settlement last month, saying that it complies with the spirit and letter of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The ADA requires businesses to provide "reasonable access" to people with disabilities as long as the remedies are not overly burdensome. Kelly O'Malley, a spokeswoman for KinderCare, said the agreement was a positive step for everybody. "KinderCare feels they are now a leader in the industry," she said.

Advisory Meetings and an Advisory

The Education Department's Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance will meet in Pullman, Wash., on Sept. 18-19 to discuss reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and other legislative proposals. Space is limited. ... The department's Advisory Council on Education Statistics will meet Sept. 11-13 in Washington to discuss, among other items, the National Center for Education Statistics' next steps in the redesign of the National Assessment of Educational Progress. ... The Education Department has proposed making the use of electronic technology a priority in awarding migrant-education-program grants. Details are in the Aug. 20 Federal Register, with comments accepted through Oct. 4.

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