National News Roundup

January 25, 1989 3 min read

The Bush Administration and the Congress should make efforts to improve adult literacy a high priority, according to a report released by the Southport Institute for Policy Analysis.

The report calls on the federal government to increase spending on literacy programs by $550 million a year.

“We cannot wait for school reform,” said Forrest Chisman, who wrote the report for the Washington-based think tank. “The hard fact that everyone wants to ignore is that 75 percent of the workforce in the year 2000 are adults today--they are out of school.” He estimated that nearly 30 million adults are functionally illiterate.

“Jump Start: The Federal Role in Adult Literacy” lists ways in which the federal, state, and local governments could seek to improve the delivery of adult-literacy services, which the report characterizes as “fragmented.”

It calls for creation of a national research center on adult literacy and a Cabinet-level group to coordinate federal literacy policy.

The report also recommends establishment of a position of assistant secretary of education for adult literacy. Currently, fed6eral adult-literacy programs are managed by the Education Department’s office of vocational and adult education, as well as by a number of offices in the departments of Labor and Health and Human Services.

Single copies of the report are available from the Southport Institute, Suite 415, 440 First St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001.

The national Boy Scouts organization has claimed vindication in the wake of a Fairfax County, Va., jury’s decision absolving it of responsibility for the sexual molestation of a scout by his scoutmaster.

The jury, however, directed the local branch of the organization to pay $45,000 in damages to the former scout, now 17. The boy had originally sought a total of $30 million from the scoutmaster, the national organization, and the local group.

The youth and his family had argued that the National Boy Scouts of America and the National Capital Area Council of the Boy Scouts were negligent in allowing Carlton Bittenbender, who had previously been convicted of child sexual abuse, to serve as a scoutmaster.

The jury found that the Washington-area scouting council, not the national organization, was responsible for selecting Mr. Bittenbender, and so should pay the damages.

“The evidence at the trial clearly demonstrated that scouting is a local activity and that parents, neighbors, and fellow members are the people best suited to select scouting membership,” the national group’s public-relations director, Frank Hebb, said in a statement.

Mr. Hebb added that the group has a “five-point strategy to create a hostile environment” for potential child molesters. The program calls for stepped-up efforts to screen volunteers and improved education on detection and prevention of sexual abuse.

A standardized test of U.S. history and citizenship will soon be available for aliens seeking legal residence status under the 1986 immigration-reform law.

The test was designed by the Educational Testing Service and approved by the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Legalization Assistance Board, a coalition of immigrant groups.

The exam, which matches current ins standards of basic civic knowledge, will be administered at public-service agencies around the country, for a $10 fee per test.

A “Guide to the English and Citizenship Test for Legalization Purposes” is available from local test centers, whose locations can be obtained from the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials “Hotline,” (800) 446-2536; in California, (800) 346-2536.

A version of this article appeared in the January 25, 1989 edition of Education Week as National News Roundup