Capital Digest

April 04, 1990 3 min read

President Bush will nominate Michael L. Williams to be the Education Department’s assistant secretary for civil rights, the White House announced last week.

The civil-rights post is the last vacancy in the department requiring Senate confirmation.

Mr. Williams is currently deputy assistant secretary for law enforcement at the Treasury Department, and served briefly as a special assistant to Attorney General Richard Thornburgh last year. He was also a senior trial attorney at the Justice Department from 1984 through 1988.

Between stints at Justice, Mr. Williams served as a domestic-policy analyst for the 1988 Bush-Quayle campaign and as an associate with a law firm in his home town of Midland, Texas.

He had a private legal practice in Midland from 1980 to 1984, and served as that city’s chief prosecutor and assistant district attorney in 1984.

Legislation subjecting public schools and colleges and other state-related institutions to lawsuits for copyright infringement has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The panel last month reported out its own bill and a version passed earlier by the House, after adding to both an amendment to limit the lawyers’ fees an institution would have to pay if it lost a copyright lawsuit.

Several education groups have fought the bill, arguing the measure is unnecessary and could impose substantial legal costs on public schools and colleges.

The bill would remove the immunity from damages provided to entities of state government by the 11th Amendment.

A bill introduced in the Senate last week calls for a national parent-education initiative based on Missouri’s “Parents as Teachers” program.

The state program, adopted by the Missouri legislature in 1984, requires that every school district offer a program of home visits and other support services to the parents of infants and preschool-age children.

The legislation proposed last week by Senator Christopher S. Bond, Republican of Missouri, would authorize $20 million in grants to help states establish or expand similar programs.

Mr. Bond introduced the measure along with Senators Howell Heflin, Democrat of Alabama, and Thad Cochran, Republican of Missouri.

Evaluations of the pilot phase of the Missouri project showed that participating children were ahead of a comparison group in language development and social skills at age 3 and scored significantly higher in reading and math at the end of 1st grade.

In addition, parents of children in the pilot project were more likely than other parents to request parent-teacher conferences and take part in school activities.

Representative Augustus F. Hawkins has introduced a $183-million national-service bill.

The bill would assist elementary and secondary schools in incorporating community service into their curricula, and encourage adults to volunteer in schools and the Head Start program.

Under the plan, which includes several elements of youth-service legislation approved by the Senate last month, $35 million would be available in grants through the Education Department to implement school-based youth-service programs.

In addition, a $10-million “Youthbuild” program would help economically and educationally disadvantaged students build and rehabilitate low-income housing.

The bill would authorize another $25 million for grants to colleges and universities to establish a corps of student tutors and a Student Literacy Corps. Under the proposal, some student volunteers would be eligible to defer or cancel part of their college debts.

The bill also would establish an American Conservation Corps and a Youth Service Corps to provide full-time service opportunities.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has backed the nomination of Robert W. Sweet Jr. to head the Justice Department’s office of juvenile justice and delinquency prevention.

The nomination, which was opposed by a number of education and juvenile-justice groups, was approved by a 9-to-5 vote.

Mr. Sweet currently serves as deputy executive secretary of the White House Domestic Policy Council. He formerly headed the National Institute of Education and the National Council on Educational Research.

Opponents of the nomination cited Mr. Sweet’s lack of experience with juvenile-justice issues, and his record as a conservative activist.

A version of this article appeared in the April 04, 1990 edition of Education Week as Capital Digest