News in Brief A Washington Roundup
Research-Overhaul Bill Passed by House Panel
A bill aimed at remaking the way the Department of Education sponsors, conducts, and promotes education research advanced in the House last week.
The House Subcomittee on Education Reform on March 13 gave its approval to the proposed "Education Sciences Reform Act." Rep. Michael N. Castle, the Delaware Republican who sponsored the proposal, said the bill could come to a vote before the full education panel as early as this week.
As written now, the measure calls for transforming the department's office of educational research and improvement into a more streamlined, independent "academy of education sciences." While still part of the department, the new academy would be headed by a presidentially appointed director and a 15-member board. ("Bill Would Remake OERI into 'Education Sciences' Academy," March 6, 2002.)
The version of the bill approved last week would boost authorized funding for education research to $400 million—about $190 million over the current level for comparable programs—and set aside some of that for studies lasting five years or more.
But Democratic panel members, some of whom pushed for those compromises, said they worry that some provisions in the bill could spell the end of the agency's system of regional education laboratories and federal research centers. Mr. Castle's proposal revokes the authority for those entities, instead allowing regional governing boards to shop around for technical assistance.
Lawmakers from both parties said they expected to resolve those differences before the bill reaches the full House Education and the Workforce Committee.
Edwards Bill Proposes High School Volunteer Corps
Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., last week proposed a new national service initiative for high school students.
The legislation to create such a program would provide $65 million annually in competitive grants to states or school districts that require a community-service commitment as a condition of high school graduation, according to a press release from Mr. Edwards' office.
"There is nowhere that the American spirit is stronger than in our high schools," Mr. Edwards said in the release.
The proposal, dubbed the Community Corps, is designed to complement the existing AmeriCorps and Senior Corps volunteer programs. A Community Corps program could incorporate service projects into existing courses in school.
As of last week, the legislation had not yet been formally introduced.
—Erik W. Robelen
Vol. 21, Issue 27, Page 20