News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
Supreme Court Rejects Channel One Case
The U.S. Supreme Court last week turned away an appeal from several Florida parents who objected to their children's required viewing of the classroom news show Channel One.
The case was the first challenge of Channel One to reach the high court. But the justices on June 8 let stand without comment state court rulings that upheld the Alachua County, Fla., district's decision to use the daily program produced by New York City-based Primedia Inc. and broadcast nationally to high schools and middle schools by satellite.
Many critics object to Channel One for its inclusion of two minutes of commercials in each 12-minute broadcast. A group of parents said the 30,000-student Alachua County district's required viewing of the program deprived them and their children of protected liberties without due process of law.
A Florida trial court rejected the suit, holding that the school board's decision to contract with Channel One fulfilled a valid curriculum objective for current-events literacy. A state appeals court upheld the ruling without an opinion.
The Supreme Court appeal was Long v. School Board of Alachua County 20 (Case No. 97-1477).
House Adopts 1999 Budget Resolution
Led by conservative Republicans, the House passed a nonbinding budget resolution on June 5 that calls for up to $61.4 billion in fiscal 1999 spending in the federal budget category that includes education, employment, and other social programs.
The resolution, which passed 216-204, was sharply criticized by Democrats and education lobbyists who wanted higher spending caps for domestic programs in light of this year's estimated budget surplus. But GOP members praised the plan's tax-cutting provisions and focus on Social Security.
In a letter to Congress last week, 61 education groups urged an end to "the squeeze on education funding." The Washington-based Committee for Education Funding, the lobbying organization that organized the effort, said the House and Senate budget plans would cut spending on education and related programs by more than $11 billion over five years when inflation and enrollment increases were taken into account.
The House resolution makes spending recommendations for the next five years. It calls for giving an additional $500 million each year to special education programs--up from their funding of $4.53 billion in fiscal 1998--and includes language that would make special education funding a top priority--a major goal of congressional Republicans. But it does not include any of President Clinton's K-12 priorities, including new funding for school construction, hiring 100,000 new teachers, and reducing class sizes in elementary grades.
Vol. 17, Issue 40, Page 36