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Yielding to pressure from the Congress and lobbying groups, President Reagan signed into law earlier this month a bill that establishes a Pell Grant family-contribution schedule for 1983-1984 and 1984-1985 that protects about 1 million needy students from having their Pell Grant aid reduced.

Although the bill, S2852, provides for no appropriations, it guarantees that about the same number of students who received Pell Grants this year, estimated at almost 2 million, will be eligible to receive maximum grants of $1,800 next year.

The law also contains provisions that give either the House or the Senate the power to veto Education Department rules for Pell Grants and Guaranteed Student Loans.

After making initial cutbacks last year and with many legislators facing reelection this year, Congress has been increasingly insistent that any further cuts in these programs would take away the "safety net'' protecting the poor.

The new law also restores benefits to about 50,000 veterans who lost aid last year as a result of new restrictions imposed on students.

The Education Department has extended the public comment period for its proposed regulations for special-education programs and will be issuing a new set of program guidelines next year, according to a department spokesman.

The announcement will be made shortly in the Federal Register, along with a detailed description of the six provisions of the proposed regulations that were withdrawn last month by Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell.

The comment period, which was scheduled to expire Nov. 2, will continue until Dec. 2.

A federal district judge in Los Angeles has threatened to hold federal attorneys in contempt if they continue to mock the way he is handling the trial of an alleged draft-registration resister.

U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. said last week that the language contained in a U.S. Justice Department refusal to provide him with confidential documents regarding federal government plans to prosecute nonregistrants was "un-called for." He added that he would hold a contempt hearing after the trial if federal attorneys failed to tone down their language.

Judge Hatter is hearing the case of David Wayte, a 21-year-old college student from Pasedena. The judge has asked the federal government to prove that it has not unfairly chosen to prosecute Mr. Wayte as a result of his belligerant stance against registration. He has also asked presidential counselor Edwin Meese 3d to testify at the trial.

In related developments:

A federal district judge in Cleveland last week sentenced convicted draft-registration resister Mark Schmucker to two years of public service in a hospital for the mentally retarded. Mr. Schmucker, a 22-year-old student at Goshen College, a Mennonite institution, was also placed on three years probation and ordered to pay a $4,000 fine.

A task force created by President Reagan last year to investigate the nation's military manpower situation reported last week that the nation's volunteer army is working, and that the armed forces can achieve their goal of expanding military ranks by 188,000 men within the next five years without a draft.

Consumers Union, the nonprofit organization that evaluates consumer goods and publishes the results in a monthly magazine, has for the first time joined forces with another group to conduct a study of educational computers and related products.

The Educational Products Information Exchange, which evaluates products in the education market, joined cu in announcing the project last Thursday in Los Angeles.

The two groups have worked together for the last 10 months. epie's executive director, P. Kenneth Komoski, says they have already evaluated most of the education systems on the market.

The groups got their biggest financial boost days before they announced their partnership, when the Ford Foundation awarded them a $300,000 grant. The project has been operating on other grants.

School districts are in danger of buying equipment that is of little practical value, technically faulty, or unable to adapt to new developments in computers, said Mr. Komoski.

"There is a big discrepancy in what is capable of being delivered and what is now being pumped in [to the marketplace]," he said.

The two groups have prepared reports about computer systems and their software that school districts will be able to buy starting next month. Mr. Komoski said he expects more than 10 percent of the nation's districts to subscribe to the evaluation service within a year.

Mr. Komoski said the two organizations hope to create a network among educators that will "hold computer firms accountable for what they produce."

Richard Cross, Consumers' Union's executive director, joined Mr. Komoski in making the Los Angeles announcement.

Vol. 02, Issue 08

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