News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
Riley Creates Math-Science Teaching Fund
Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley has formed a blue-ribbon panel to recommend ways to improve science and mathematics instruction.
Mr. Riley recruited the 22-member group because American students' achievement is behind that of other nations, an announcement said, and a predicted teacher shortage would likely exacerbate the problem. The commission is to report to him by the fall of 2000 and suggest policies to improve the education, professional development, and recruitment of K-12 math and science teachers.
The National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century will be led by John Glenn, the former astronaut and Democratic senator from Ohio. It also includes Republican Sen. James M. Jeffords of Vermont, the chairman of the Senate education committee; GOP Gov. Jim Geringer of Wyoming; Democratic Gov. James B. Hunt Jr. of North Carolina; Sandra Feldman, the president of the American Federation of Teachers; Deborah Loewenberg Ball, a University of Michigan professor who studies math instruction; and business leaders, state policymakers, district administrators, and one teacher.
--David J. Hoff
Bipartisan Bill Focuses on Girls' Education
The nation's female students would receive heightened attention under bipartisan legislation unveiled last month by House and Senate lawmakers.
Rep. Dale E. Kildee of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the Early Childhood, Youth, and Families Subcommittee, was joined by Republican Nancy L. Johnson of Connecticut and others in introducing HR 2505, the Educating America's Girls Act of 1999.
It would encourage efforts to: ensure special attention to girls' needs in technology, curtail sexual harassment in schools, gather data on girls' participation in high school athletics, keep pregnant and parenting students in school, and reauthorize the Women's Educational Equity Act. The Senate version, S 1264, was co-sponsored by Sens. Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, and Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., the ranking Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.
--Erik W. Robelen
Tax Bill Includes Education Savings Language
The nearly $800 billion Republican tax-cut plan approved by the House contains language that would allow parents to set aside money in tax-free savings accounts for private or public precollegiate education costs.
President Clinton has vowed to veto the tax bill, which was opposed by most House Democrats when it passed last month. In a speech last week, he charged that the massive tax cuts in the long term would compel cuts in education programs.
Parents already can set aside up to $500 annually in tax-free accounts for higher education expenses. The House bill would increase the limit to $2,000 and allow the money also to be designated for K-12 costs--such as tuition, tutoring, and books--in private and public schools. The Clinton administration opposes the idea. The bill contains several other education provisions, including a measure that would change bond rules to help states and localities seeking school construction bonds.
Meanwhile, the Senate late last week was debating its own tax-cut bill, which included language directing that education savings accounts be considered in House-Senate deliberations on a final tax-cut bill.
--Erik W. Robelen
NEA To Lobby for Clinton Building Plan
The nation's largest teachers' union estimates that 6,000 new schools, at a total cost of up to $73 billion, will need to be built in the next nine years to keep up with increasing enrollments. In releasing the state-by-state data, the National Education Association stressed its support for President Clinton's school construction initiative.
The NEA took aim at a Republican tax-cut plan that was approved by the House and did not include Mr. Clinton's proposal, which would give tax credits to encourage $25 billion of school construction. The 2.4-million member union will use the individual state data to lobby for the Clinton plan.
Union President Bob Chase called the GOP tax-cut plan, passed last month by the House , "irresponsible and foolish." Late last week, the Senate was debating its own tax-cut bill.
The NEA has posted its state-by-state analysis on its World Wide Web site at www.nea.org/lac/modfacts/index.html.
--Joetta L. Sack
Vol. 18, Issue 43, Page 32