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Published in Print: March 5, 2003, as News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

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NEA Affiliates Fight Labor Dept. Rule

Thirty-two state affiliates of the National Education Association are fighting in court to overturn a new requirement that they file annual financial reports with the Department of Labor. In the past, most affiliates have been exempt from filing and from the other provisions of the federal Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, also known as the Landrum-Griffin Act.

Thirty-two state affiliates of the National Education Association are fighting in court to overturn a new requirement that they file annual financial reports with the Department of Labor. In the past, most affiliates have been exempt from filing and from the other provisions of the federal Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, also known as the Landrum-Griffin Act.

But the Labor Department, which is also proposing to make the financial reporting more detailed, recently said that the affiliates must file. Currently, the NEA, the American Federation of Teachers, and just a few of the two organizations' state and local affiliates make the reports. They do so because their members include some private-sector employees.

The Landrum- Griffin Act imposes federal regulation on private-sector unions, which are also granted certain powers under federal law. The Labor Department recently issued a "clarification" saying that affiliates are subject to the reporting requirement if their parent organizations include the private workers. In response, the affiliates that have been exempt filed suit against the provision in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Robert Chanin, the NEA lawyer representing the affiliates, said the opposition did not stem from any reluctance to provide financial information to members. "There are all kinds of data available to members," he said, but "we provide it because we choose to provide it."

"No organization that's not required to come under this law should come under it," added Mr. Chanin, who is the NEA's general counsel. "It's a burdensome law."

—Bess Keller

Bush Head Start Plan Is Target of Criticism

Leading Senate Democrats and children's advocates took aim last week at President Bush's plans to hand states greater control over Head Start.

Marian Wright Edelman

"We feel that this is putting at risk something of such importance," Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, said during a Feb. 26 conference call with reporters. Mr. Kennedy was joined by Sen. Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, Children's Defense Fund President Marian Wright Edelman, and others.

Mr. Kennedy said studies have shown the federal preschool program for poor children to be effective. "We've got a demonstrated, proven record on this."

According to the Bush administration, the proposed shift is intended to allow states to better link Head Start with existing preschool programs. Because Head Start money is now given directly to community agencies running Head Start programs, the administration says, the program "cannot be easily coordinated and aligned with other early-childhood services by the states."

Ms. Edelman called the plan "a radical experiment to dismantle Head Start."

"If we put this back into the state bureaucracy, ... the children are going to be the losers," Sen. Kennedy said.

—Erik W. Robelen

Web Site Seeks Input On Disability Research

Federal agencies have launched a Web site to gather comments and recommendations on research needs for people with disabilities. The goal of the site is to make sure that federal research efforts are aligned with the needs of that population.

The Interagency Committee on Disability Research, which includes representatives from the Department of Education and other agencies, created the site. To access the site, go to www.icdr.us.

—Lisa Fine Goldstein

Vol. 22, Issue 25, Page 30

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