Federal News Roundup
It is as yet unclear what effect, if any, the Supreme Court's recent ruling allowing student religious groups to meet in public-university buildings will have on prayer in the public schools, according to one noted expert in First Amendment law.
William Ball, a Pennsylvania lawyer frequently involved in church-state cases, said he would need time to fully examine the Supreme Court's ruling before speculating on possible ramifications for the exercise of religion in elementary and secondary schools.
The Court ruled 8 to 1 last week that religious services held in campus buildings by students at the University of Missouri are a form of ''free speech and association."
The Court struck down a university regulation that prohibited such use of the property. The university said the services violated constitutional prohibitions against state establishment or advancement of religion.
The religious clause of the First Amendment was not involved in the court's decision.
In a footnote to its majority opinion, the court remarked that university students, who are "less impressionable than younger students," would not infer campus support of religion because of the availability of a meeting place.
The court is considering whether to hear a similar case involving a request by students in Guilderland, N.Y., to be allowed to hold voluntary prayer meetings on school grounds before the beginning of the school day.
The board of education in Guilderland denied the request, and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld its refusal.
Responsibility for employment and training programs currently being administered by the U.S. Labor Department will "more than likely" be transferred to the Education Department, according to a Labor Department official.
Robert T. Jones, an administrator for the Office of Management Assistance, announced at the American Vocational Association (ava) convention on Dec. 4 that the Education Department's office of vocational and adult education apparently "will play the dominant role" in future employment and training programs. He said 35 to 40 percent of the Labor Department's employment and training budget already goes into vocational-education programs.
But he warned, "There's a price" that local agencies will have to pay because of past "abuses" in the public-service employment program under the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act. In future legislation, he said, there are "bound to be more stringent controls."
Mr. Jones said workers displaced by changing technology as well as the unskilled and unemployed will be the focus of national training programs and that Congress will set "precise standards for what the outcome is to be."
During the ava meeting he also told the members of the National Association of State Directors of Vocational Education, "You're going to need to be sensitive to the job market demands."
With luck, Congress will find a few minutes before it adjourns for Christmas to pass House Joint Resolution 293, designating next March 19 as National Energy Education Day (need). The resolution, adopted by the Senate in July, last week acquired more than the required 218 co-sponsors to assure final adoption by the House.
The 1982 celebration will mark the second year in a 10-year plan by the need Project, an independent nonprofit group, to promote energy education. This can be accomplished, need officials say, by "infusing" energy facts, figures, trends, and issues into courses already being taught.
For the March 19 observance, school officials and students are encouraged to plan energy museums, fairs, and other projects. In the last school year, some 10,000 schools participated; need officials expect a similar number this year. The project's major financial support comes from Atlantic Richfield and other industrial sponsors.
The Youth Awards Program, sponsored last year by the U.S. Department of Energy, is another important part of the celebration. Students in grades five through 12 may submit projects--individual or group--in areas such as conservation, renewable energy, or energy issues.
need publishes pamphlets for both students and school officials on curriculum ideas and projects. Write to: need Project, P.O. Box 2518, Reston, Va. 22090. (Include a self-addressed 9-by-12 envelope with $1.39 in postage.)