Capital Digest

February 07, 1990 4 min read

The House Education and Labor Committee launched hearings last week on a bill that would require the Education Department to study the impact of federal and state regulations on public schools.

The proposed “regulatory impact on student excellence act,” sponsored by Representative Augustus F. Hawkins, Democrat of California, would require the department to identify federal and state requirements established since 1980, assess their impact, and recommend ways to simplify regulations in order to focus more resources on students.

Mr. Hawkins, the panel’s chairman, has argued that the Congress should “have more data” before acting on a deregulation proposal by Representative Peter P. Smith of Vermont.

Mr. Smith’s bill would allow school districts to enter into agreements with educational officials to waive certain state and federal regulations and mingle funds from different programs in exchange for setting and meeting certain performance goals. (See Education Week, Nov. 22, 1989.)

Mr. Hawkins contends that many federal regulations are needed to ensure equity, and that the increased regulatory burden on schools is due largely to state, rather than federal, mandates.

“If a regulation is excessive or if it deviates from law, there should be a way of getting rid of it, but I think it’s less of a problem than people say it is,” he said last week.

Edward F. Parisian has been named to head the education programs of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Mr. Parisian, superintendent of schools for the Rocky Boy’s Indian reservation in Montana, is a member of the Chippewa-Cree tribe and a former president of the National Indian Education Association. He was expected to assume his duties this week, according to Carl Shaw, a b.i.a. spokesman.

Mr. Parisian said he was granted a two-year leave of absence from his superintendency to assume his new post.

President Bush has nominated John R. Dunne, a former member of the New York Senate, to serve as assistant attorney general for civil rights.

Several civil-rights groups have criticized Mr. Dunne’s lack of demonstrated civil-rights leadership, but have not indicated whether they will oppose his nomination.

The Senate Judiciary Committee rejected Mr. Bush’s first nominee for the post, William Lucas.

President Bush’s task force on Hispanic education has held its first meeting and is scheduled to issue its recommendations within a few months, according to an Education Department spokesman.

Mr. Bush created the task force to address the educational problems of Hispanics and, specifically, to identify any barriers to their participation in federal education programs. (See Education Week, Dec. 13, 1989.)

The task force is chaired by Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos and includes several other Cabinet members.

The governing board of the Fund for the Improvement and Reform of Schools and Teaching agreed last month to award its 1991 grants to projects that enlist broad community involvement.

“Nothing is going to work unless you bring in” groups such as parents, students, businesses, and community organizations, said Peter Greer, the panel’s chairman.

First, which was created by the Hawkins-Stafford Elementary and Secondary School Improvement Act of 1988, is expected to disburse $6 million to some 60 projects in 1990.

The National Center for Education Statistics has proposed a new record-keeping system to maintain the confidentiality of study subjects.

The new system, outlined in the Jan. 22 Federal Register, was prompted by confidentiality rules set by the Hawkins-Stafford Elementary and Secondary School Improvement Act.

The act requires the nces to guarantee the confidentiality of survey respondents. Researchers who violate the rule could face fines of up to $250,000 and up to five years in prison. (See Education Week, September 6, 1989.)

The proposed record-keeping system is designed to assist the internal control and monitoring of those with access to confidential surveys and to provide evidence for the prosecution of violators.

The nces also announced it will release two surveys previously withheld for confidentiality reviews.

The surveys, which will be made available to researchers who pledge confidentiality, are the National Longitudinal Study, and the Schools and Staffing Survey.

Comparative international statistics show that the United States spends too much, rather than too little, on education, according to a study released by the Cato Institute, a Washington-based think tank.

The findings of the study contrasted with those of a widely noted report issued last month by the Economic Policy Institute, which found that the United States spends less of its national income on precollegiate education than its foreign competitors. (See Education Week, Jan. 24, 1990.)

The Cato report, written by John Hood, notes that the United States spent 6.8 percent of its national income on education in 1986. Japan and West Germany spent lesser percentages, and the list of countries whose students outscored U.S. students also includes several nations, such as Spain and South Korea, that spent considerably less, Mr. Hood argues.

Mr. Hood also cites studies that found no connection between achievement and per-pupil spending or class size, and argues that “teacher-based” reforms have not been shown to boost student performance.

Copies of “Education: Is America Spending Too Much?” are available for $2 each, or $1 in bulk, from Policy Analysis, Cato Institute, 224 Second St., S.E., Washington, D.C. 20003.

A version of this article appeared in the February 07, 1990 edition of Education Week as Capital Digest