Published Online: May 21, 1997

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News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

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Title IX Complaints Filed

Twenty-five colleges and universities discriminate against women by failing to award female athletes equitable amounts of scholarship dollars, a legal-advocacy group charged last week.

The National Women's Law Center has filed complaints with the Department of Education's office for civil rights alleging that the schools are violating Title IX, the 1972 law that bars sex discrimination at educational institutions receiving federal funds.

The Washington-based group said that female athletes receive only one-third of the scholarship dollars available nationwide. The complaints are based on 1995 scholarship figures.

The Education Department has 135 days to respond to the complaints. Law center officials said they would file a lawsuit if the schools failed to comply with Title IX.

GSATo Raise Funds for Centers

The General Services Administration plans to turn to extra fees and fund raising to generate about $10 million for its 225 nonmilitary child-care centers. The agency, which maintains federal office buildings, runs child-care facilities for federal employees and others nationwide.

The money is needed to keep fees at the centers within reach of low-income federal workers, according to the GSA.

And with many poor mothers expected to take government jobs as new welfare-to-work requirements kick in, the need for high-quality, affordable child care is increasing. About 10,000 welfare recipients are expected to take federal jobs over the next four years.

Under the GSA plan, outlined in a report by acting Administrator David J. Barram, centers would charge on a sliding scale so employees would pay based on their income.

Strategies for raising money include charging for programs such as dance and music lessons and parenting classes. Centers should also seek public and private grants for additional funds, the report said.

Skills Board Sets Targets

The National Skill Standards Board has announced that, as of October, efforts will be under way to set skills standards in industries representing 74 percent of the American workforce.

The board, which Congress created in 1994 to kick-start a voluntary nationwide system of standards for a wide range of jobs, late last month released a time line of its goals for the next 18 years.

To date, the board has organized partnerships to identify skills needed in three industry areas: manufacturing, installation, and repair; wholesale/retail sales; and business and administrative services. The board plans gradually to add partnerships in the nation's 13 other economic sectors by 2000.

Meeting the new timetable will require adequate funding, board Chairman James R. Houghton said at a press conference. The board has asked Congress for $7 million in fiscal 1998; its budget this year was $4 million.

The panel, which is scheduled to be abolished in 1999, will also need more time to complete its work, Mr. Houghton said.

TVRatings To Be Reworked

Television-network executives agreed to make changes in their five-month-old program-rating system during a meeting with members of Congress last week.

Lawmakers announced after the meeting that industry representatives will work with children's advocacy groups to craft a compromise version of the system, which critics have argued is too vague.

The networks plan to meet again with lawmakers in coming weeks.

"We won't have a final decision on this in two weeks, but we do expect significant progress," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees communications.

Modifications may include a plan to add the letters S, V, and L to the existing rating system to signify programs with sexual content, violence, or objectionable language, the lawmakers said.

Currently, programs are given general ratings indicating whether they are considered appropriate for young viewers or are more suitable for adults only. Critics say the ratings are less than helpful because they do not explain why a program may not be appropriate for children.

Title ISupplement Passes

The House and Senate passed a supplemental appropriations bill last week that would provide $101 million in Title Ifunding for states that would lose out because of a federal decision to distribute the program's money based on new population estimates.

But passage of the measure, which would provide $8.6 billion overall for disaster relief and other programs, set the stage for a showdown with the White House.

President Clinton vowed to veto the bill as soon as it arrived on his desk because of a Republican-crafted provision intended to prevent a government shutdown in a budget impasse.

The Senate passed its bill with a veto-proof majority of 67-31, but the House failed to gather the widespread support needed to sustain a veto. The House vote was 220-201.

Also last week, the House and the Senate passed a final version of the five-year balanced-budget blueprint the two chambers approved separately last month.

Among its other education recommendations, the plan calls for some $35 billion over five years in tax breaks for college costs.

The congressional tax-writing and appropriations panels will hammer out the specifics of the budget plan.

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