News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

February 06, 2002 2 min read

Congress Passes Bill Freezing Low Loan Rate

College-bound students and their parents seeking to borrow money from the government in the future would be guaranteed a low interest rate, if the president signs a bill that cleared Congress last week.

House members voted 372-3 to extend to 2006 the current student-loan interest rate, which at around 5.99 percent is at the lowest point in the Stafford Loan Program’s history.

After July 1, 2006, the interest rates for student loans would be hiked to 6.8 percent and remain fixed until 2013. Loans obtained by parents would be fixed at 7.9 percent over the same period.

The Senate passed the measure unanimously last month. About 5.3 million students and parents took out federally backed education loans this year, according to the Department of Education.

—Lisa Fine

Bush Names 10 to Literacy Board

President Bush has nominated 10 experts on education and literacy issues to the advisory board of the National Institute for Literacy. The independent federal agency was created by the National Literacy Act of 1991 to disseminate information on effective literacy instruction.

The institute is also coordinating at least two federal panels to review quantitative and qualitative reading research and to determine what types of instruction are most effective.

The nominees are: Carol C. Gambill of Tennessee; Douglas Carnine of Oregon; Carmel Borders of Kentucky; Blanca E. Enriquez of Texas; Jean Osborn of Illinois; Phyllis C. Hunter of Texas; Mark G. Yudof of Minnesota; Juan R. Olivarez of Michigan; William T. Hiller of Ohio; and Robin Morris of Georgia.

—Kathleen Kennedy Manzo

Hispanic Education Panel Formed

A special commission created to help the Bush administration close the academic-achievement gap between Hispanic students and their peers has started to take shape. President Bush named its 17 members last week.

The primary responsibility of the commission, established in October, will be to write a report by March 2003 with suggestions for improving the performance of Latino students in school.

The panel will also suggest an accountability system to monitor executive-branch departments and agencies and their efforts to ensure participation of Hispanic students in education.

The committee members: co-chairs Frank Hanna of Georgia and Patricia J. Mazzuca of Pennsylvania; Micaela Alvarez of Texas; Jose Guadalupe Conchola of Arizona; Jaime A. Escalante of California; Charles P. Garcia of Florida; Norma Sanchez Garza of Texas; Alexander Gonzalez of California; Miguel A. Hernandez Jr. of Texas; Jose E. Hoyos of Virginia; Francisco J. Paret of Puerto Rico; Altagracia Ramos of Ohio; Enedelia Schofield of Oregon; Ofelia Saenz Vanden Vosch of Texas; Rene Vasquez of Puerto Rico; and Octavio J. Visiedo of Florida.

—Lisa Fine

A version of this article appeared in the February 06, 2002 edition of Education Week as News in Brief: A Washington Roundup