News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
Clinton Unveils Safety Initiative
President Clinton announced a new school safety training program for teachers and others during the White House Conference on Mental Health last week.
The National Education Association, the broadcast-satellite company EchoStar Communications Corp., and Future View, a communications company that specializes in setting up private networks, will oversee the program, along with other public and private partners.
The federal departments of Education, Justice, and Health and Human Services will also provide funding and other resources.
The program's goal is to offer teachers and other school employees safety training through satellite broadcasts. In the fall, a new national school safety network will provide donated satellite dishes to at least 1,000 districts and begin yearlong instruction for teachers, schools, and communities. Districts will have to apply to the NEA in order to participate. The union is expected to release details on applying next month. The partnership plans to broadcast the training to districts, which may then distribute the information by videotape to local schools and hold training sessions with teachers and others.
During the conference, Clinton administration officials also called for the expansion of the federal "Caring for Every Child" campaign, which identifies and supports children with mental illness.
--Adrienne D. Coles
NAGB Announces Foreign-Language Test
The National Assessment Governing Board has announced plans for the first national test of students' foreign-language proficiency.
The main test, to be developed over the next year by the Center for Applied Linguistics, based in Washington, is to be given in 2003.
It will evaluate 12th graders' skill in reading and writing Spanish. Smaller-scale tests may also be given in French, German, and Japanese, according to NAGB officials.
NAGB is the independent board that sets policy for the federally sponsored National Assessment of Educational Progress, the only ongoing, nationally representative assessment of what American students know and are able to do in various subjects.
The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, a Yonkers, N.Y.-based association for teachers and researchers, and the American Institutes for Research, located in Washington, will help the Center for Applied Linguistics in devising the test.
Committees of international-trade and foreign-affairs experts will also submit their recommendations for the test framework and achievement levels.
--Kathleen Kennedy Manzo
Riley Cites Hispanic Education Needs
Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley recently focused attention on efforts to improve education for the nation's growing Hispanic population of Americans, saying that such initiatives should become a top national priority.
Addressing a conference sponsored by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, held at City College of New York, Mr. Riley cited projections that by 2020, 22 percent of school-age children in the United States will be Hispanic.
In his June 4 speech, Mr. Riley noted that two Hispanic Americans were captured in the Balkans conflict. "If Hispanic Americans are equals when it comes to fighting for our country," he said, "our country has a moral obligation to fight for equality in education for Hispanic Americans."
The secretary cited several Clinton administration proposals intended to help Hispanic students and others, including plans to strengthen bilingual education, reduce dropout rates, and shrink class sizes. He also issued a challenge to Hispanic parents to help their children learn to read.
--Erik W. Robelen
Vol. 18, Issue 40, Page 17