News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
Chairman of K-12 Panel To Join Pro-Voucher Board
Upon leaving Congress, the chairman of the House subcommittee that handles K-12 issues plans to accept an unpaid position as a board member of the Children's Educational Opportunities Foundation, a Bentonville, Ark.-based group that helps support privately subsidized voucher efforts.
Rep. Frank Riggs, R-Calif., already had decided not to seek re-election this fall. In his new role, he will travel across the country to speak on school choice issues, said Fritz S. Steiger, the president of the organization, which is commonly known as CEO America.
Mr. Steiger plans to announce the appointment officially at a school choice conference later this month. Mr. Steiger said the nine-member board was attracted to Mr. Riggs because of his speaking ability and experience on Capitol Hill.
It's common for former members of Congress to serve on corporate and nonprofit boards.
"CEO America is an organization that is pursuing the same sort of philosophical goals that the congressman has supported over the years," said Beau Phillips, a spokesman for Mr. Riggs.
--Joetta L. Sack
Justice Supports Diversity Appeal
The Department of Justice is backing a bid by the Arlington, Va., schools to overturn a court decision striking down a race-conscious admissions policy at an elementary school. The case is being watched in desegregation circles nationwide.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit is considering an appeal of last spring's ruling by U.S. District Judge Albert V. Bryan Jr. in favor of two white children who were denied admission to this fall's kindergarten class at Arlington Traditional School. In the interest of classroom diversity, the school held a weighted lottery that favored applicants who were nonwhite, came from low-income families, or whose first language was not English.
The 18,200-student district and its allies--including the Justice Department--contend that Judge Bryan erred in concluding that the educational benefits of diversity are insufficient to legally justify classifying students by race.
Others supporting the district in friend-of-the-court briefs include the American Association of School Administrators, the Council of the Great City Schools and the Magnet Schools of America.
Copyright Measure Clears House
Educators and librarians breathed a sigh of relief last month when the House passed new copyright legislation that continued to permit libraries and educational institutions the right to "fair use" of copyright materials in the electronic age.
The bill, HR 2281, allows current protection for fair use to remain in place for two years while federal officials review the issue. A similar measure, S 2037, passed the Senate in May.
House and Senate conferees are expected to work out a compromise bill that includes fair use for schools and libraries, a traditional right that at one point in the debate seemed threatened.
The debate on copyright policy for schools and libraries was renewed because software publishers want to put a stop to the pirating of computer software, said Bruce Hunter, the director of government relations for the American Association of School Administrators. The new law makes it clear that schools can't copy software and use it widely, he said.
--Mary Ann Zehr
Gore Unveils Child-Health Effort
Vice President Al Gore last week announced a new effort by three federal agencies to sign up more uninsured children for health-care coverage.
The agencies will begin taking a more active role in identifying and educating families about the importance of health care, especially for children, Mr. Gore said while hosting the National Child Health Caravan in Washington. The group calls attention to underserved children's needs.
Mr. Gore said there are 4 million children who qualify for Medicaid, but are not enrolled in it. The Department of Agriculture will now encourage states to forge partnerships with school lunch programs as a way of linking students to state health-insurance programs. The Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Treasury, which administers the Earned Income Tax Credit, will begin to target and enroll children from families in low-income programs.
--Karen L. Abercrombie
Vol. 18, Issue 1, Page 40