News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
Commission to Investigate Suspension Rates
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights plans to examine further whether
so-called zero-tolerance discipline policies in schools are
discriminating against minority and disabled students.
Commissioners came to that decision at a Feb. 18 hearing in which a Department of Education official provided recent data showing some disparities in student-suspension rates, especially for blacks. According to the 1997 data, African-Americans constituted about 17 percent of all students enrolled in public schools, but 32 percent of all students who were suspended.
"The commissioners decided at the end of the meeting ... that we need to make a further investigation" of the matter, said Mary Frances Berry, the chairwoman of the commission. "We probably need to go visit a school system."
Norma V. Cantu, the Education Department's assistant secretary for civil rights, cautioned against drawing any hasty conclusions.
"It is important to note that a numerical disparity does not by itself prove discrimination," she said.
—Erik W. Robelen
Clinton Announces Grants To Help At-Risk Youths
President Clinton recently announced $223 million in federal grants to provide education and job training to at-risk youths in 36 communities.
"This [funding] will provide a lifeline of opportunity to any young person willing to work for a better future," Mr. Clinton said during his weekly radio address Feb. 19.
Issued by the Department of Labor, the youth-opportunity grants will serve up to an estimated 44,000 young people ages 14 to 21. Total fiscal 2000 funding for the program is $250 million, with some money set aside for technical assistance; the president has requested $375 million for fiscal 2001.
—Erik W. Robelen
Vol. 19, Issue 25, Page 29