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Published in Print: October 9, 2002, as News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

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NAEP Governing Board Names New Director

The board that oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress has appointed Charles E. Smith, a former commissioner of education in Tennessee and the chancellor emeritus of that state's system of colleges and universities, as its new executive director.

Charles E. Smith

Mr. Smith will begin a three-year appointment Jan. 1 as the head of the board's professional staff. The independent, bipartisan National Assessment Governing Board sets policy for NAEP. Also known as the "nation's report card," the congressionally authorized assessment provides data on the achievement of a representative sampling of American students in key subjects.

Mr. Smith succeeds Roy Truby, who is retiring after spending 13 years as the board's original executive director.

Mr. Smith, 63, lost a bid to be Tennessee's Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the Aug. 1 primary election.

—Lynn Olson

Court Urged to Take Admissions Case

White students who sued the University of Michigan over its affirmative action policies in undergraduate admissions asked the U.S. Supreme Court last week to hear their appeal, even though a federal appeals court is still weighing the case.

Lawyers for Jennifer Gratz and Patrick Hamacher, who were denied admission to the university's college of literature, science, and the arts under policies that considered race, filed papers on Oct. 1 asking the justices to take up the case so it can be decided in the court's 2002-03 term.

The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, in Cincinnati, heard arguments last December in challenges to Michigan's affirmative action policies for the undergraduate college and its law school. In May, it ruled 5-4 in the law school case that considering race to promote student diversity did not violate the U.S. Constitution. That ruling has been appealed to the high court separately.

But the 6th Circuit court has not yet issued its ruling in the undergraduate case and has offered no explanation for the delay. In their court papers, the lawyers for the white undergraduate applicants urged the Supreme Court not to wait for the appellate court's ruling because the case is of "fundamental national importance." The appeals court's delay is allowing the university to continue using a race-based admissions policy that is unconstitutional, the appeal argues.

The university has said it will urge the Supreme Court not to review the law school decision. But its lawyers have also said that if the court decides to take up that case, they would prefer that the justices also consider the undergraduate-admissions case.

—Mark Walsh

Rep. Mink Dies at 74; Was Title IX Co-Author

Rep. Patsy T. Mink, D-Hawaii, who helped write the Title IX gender-equity law, died Sept. 28 of pneumonia.

A member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, Ms. Mink, 74, was finishing up her 12th term in Congress.

Rep. Patsy T. Mink

She first served in the House from 1965 to 1977, then resigned to make an unsuccessful bid for the Senate. She returned to the House in 1990 and had served ever since.

Ms. Mink has cited her work on Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 as one of her proudest accomplishments. The law prohibits discrimination against women and girls in schools receiving federal aid. More recently, Ms. Mink was one of six House Democrats to serve on the House-Senate conference committee that negotiated a final compromise on the "No Child Left Behind" Act of 2001.

Her name will remain on the Nov. 5 ballot in Hawaii. If she is re-elected, the seat will be declared vacant, and a special election will be called to choose a successor.

—Erik W. Robelen

Teacher-Loan Bill Wins House Approval

The House last week approved a bill intended to tackle teacher shortages by expanding student-loan forgiveness for college graduates who opt to teach.

By a voice vote on Oct. 1, the House passed the Canceling Loans to Allow School Systems to Attract Classroom Teachers, or CLASS ACT, legislation. The bill, introduced in March by Rep. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., would raise the ceiling for loans that can be wiped off the books.

It would provide up to $17,500 in student-loan forgiveness to mathematics, science, and special education teachers who serve in needy schools for five years. The existing program, begun in 1998, provides up to $5,000 in college-loan relief to teachers who work in low-income districts.

With scant working days remaining in this Congress, no companion bill is pending in the Senate, according to Mr. Graham's office.

—Michelle R. Davis

Vol. 22, Issue 6, Page 28

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