Capital Digest

August 05, 1992 7 min read
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Reforms in Chapter 1 regulations mandated by the Congress in 1988 have not done enough to improve the compensatory-education program’s services for children, an interim report from a national assessment of the program concludes.

Contrary to the intent of the reforms, Chapter 1 remains a program in which the teaching of basic skills is the norm and the teaching of higher-order skills the exception, the report released by the Education Department last month says.

Moreover, the accountability provisions adopted by the Congress in the 1988 legislation reauthorizing the program have failed to create high standards and expections for Chapter 1 students, it says.

The report also says that schools have a disincentive to improve student achievement because they may lose some funding as a result.

At the same time, it says, some funding seems poorly targeted. The federal remedial aid goes to almost half of the least poor elementary schools in the nation, it points out, and almost half of the principals of high-poverty schools appear unaware that they now can set up schoolwide Chapter 1 programs.

Copies of the “Interim Report of the National Assessment of Chapter 1'’ can be obtained by calling (202) 401-3132. A final report is scheduled to be released in December.

House and Senate panels have approved child-welfare measures aimed at investing in preventive services to strengthen families and avert the need for foster placement. Both bills could reach the floor this week.

The Senate Finance Committee’s version was included in HR 11, an urban-aid package approved by the panel last week. It includes new “capped entitlement’’ programs to increase aid for family-preservation efforts and for substance-abuse programs for pregnant and parenting women, caretaker parents, and their children. It would also support training for child-welfare workers and offer a tax deduction to encourage families to adopt special-needs children.

The House Ways and Means Committee passed its bill as part of a “children’s initiative’’ that includes a childhood anti-hunger initiative. The package, HR 5600, would cost about $7 billion over five years and would be financed through a 10 percent surtax on people who earn more than $1 million annually.

The child-welfare portion would establish a new capped entitlement program aimed at intervention to avert the need for “expensive and unnecessary’’ foster placement. It would encourage state and local innovation in providing support services to help keep families together.

It also calls for improvements in existing foster-care and adoption programs for children who must be removed from their homes; contains provisions targeting the needs of children who are abandoned, exposed to drugs, or at high risk for medical problems; and would create an advisory panel to track data on child well-being and evaluate child-welfare and foster-care services.

The “Mickey Leland childhood-hunger relief act,’' a scaled-down version of a bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee last year, is designed to channel food to families on the brink of homelessness.

The cost of a proposed satellite dedicated to educational use “is far beyond what is reasonable,’' the Education Department’s research chief told a Senate hearing on educational telecommunications last week.

Diane S. Ravitch, the assistant secretary for educational research and improvement, made the comment at a Commerce Committee hearing on S 2377, a bill that would provide federal loan guarantees to finance the start-up costs of an independently operated satellite.

Ms. Ravitch suggested that having the federal government act as a broker to buy blocks of satellite time for resale to educational users might be a more reasonable alternative.

The minimum cost of a satellite exclusively for educational use has been estimated at $300 million.

As written, the measure seems tailor-made to underwrite a proposal by the National Education Telecommunications Organization, a Washington-based nonprofit association.

But officials of the Public Broadcasting Service say that a new satellite they plan to launch late next year, coupled with technical advances that increase existing capacity, will obviate the need for a separate satellite.

The bill’s sponsor, Senator Conrad Burns, Republican of Montana, sharply contested PBS’s view during the hearing.

States are having trouble adjusting to management of the Even Start program, Education Department officials said last week.

The program, which provides education and other services to disadvantaged preschoolers and their families, was initially managed by the federal agency, but states took over this year.

Only 5 states of 37 that have submitted plans have won approval, Mary Jean LeTendre, the director of compensatory-education programs, told the Elementary, Secondary, and Vocational Education Subcommittee.

Schools could become “one-stop shopping’’ centers for basic health care and social services for at-risk children and youths under legislation introduced last week by Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

The bill, S 3088, known as “the comprehensive services for youth act of 1992,’' would authorize $250 million in federal grants to local partnerships and states for coordination and expansion of such services to in- or out-of-school youths.

The services, which could also be offered in school-linked sites or community-based centers, would include youth-development and life-planning services and services designed to prevent H.I.V. infection, alcohol and drug abuse, gang violence, unplanned pregnancy, suicide, and school dropouts.

The legislation would leave up to local providers decisions about whether to provide birth-control or abortion counseling or services.

Mr. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat who chairs the Labor and Human Resources Committee, held a hearing on the bill last week.

The legislation could face an uphill battle, as conservative lawmakers have blocked many bills that would support school-based clinics. The committee’s ranking Republican, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, said in a statement that the bill raises “major concerns’’ because of its “vague’’ listing of services and apparent service gaps when schools are closed in the summer.

The House Education and Labor Committee has approved a bill reauthorizing the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

The bill, HR 5482, would authorize $2.1 billion for job-training programs for adults and, for the first time, would require state vocational-rehabilitation officials to work with special educators to plan disabled students’ transition from school to work or vocational training.

Special educators are already required to begin planning students’ transition from high school under amendments to special-education law passed in 1990.

In the Senate, the Disability Policy Subcommittee is holding hearings on the Rehabilitation Act.

The Education Department has announced a competition for the federal vocational-education research center that is likely to renew a battle between two major universities.

Both the University of California at Berkeley, which leads the current research consortium, and Ohio State University, which formerly headed the federal center and filed suit in 1987 protesting the current contract, have said they will enter the new competition.

The department decided to open the competition despite the continuing absence of final rules for the reauthorized Carl D. Perkins Vocational Education Act; officials said they do not expect the rules to be completed before fall. Applications for a $4-million research center and a $2-million dissemination and training center are due Sept. 4. Officials said a single center could be awarded both of the five-year grants.

American educators and education ministers from member nations of Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation were scheduled to meet in Washington this week for the group’s first conference on international education issues.

“These countries are used to talking to each other about matters of economic cooperation,’' said Diane S. Ravitch, the research chief for the Education Department, which is hosting the Aug. 3-5 conference. “What’s unusual about this is it will be an international concentration and focus on education.’'

A major topic will be national education standards, which many Asian nations have put in place.

The APEC nations participating in the meeting include China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand.

Deputy Secretary of Education David T. Kearns has been sidelined for two months following cancer surgery.

Mr. Kearns underwent surgery May 29 to remove a growth in his nasal passages. A spokesman initially said he would return to work after about a month, but his recovery has taken longer than expected.

A Congressional commission that will look at such issues as the length of the school day and year has held its first hearing and hired its executive director.

U.S. pupils need to spend more time in school and doing homework, several witnesses told the National Education Commission on Time and Learning at the June hearing. But an official of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions said a longer school year would “devastate’’ his industry, which he said employs many young people.

A series of public hearings around the country will precede the commission’s final report in April 1994.

Milton Goldberg, the former director of the Education Department’s office of research, has been named the panel’s executive director.

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A version of this article appeared in the August 05, 1992 edition of Education Week as Capital Digest


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