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Copyright 1987 The Senate panel with jurisdiction over education appropriations is expected to begin consideration this month of its version of the spending bill, which is likely to be less generous than the House measure.

The Senate Appropriations Committee last month agreed to an allocation plan that gives the subcommittee on labor, health and human services, and education $290 million less for its discretionary spending than was allotted by the June budget resolution.

Although the Congressional Budget Office and the Office of Management and Budget have reported that $3 billion would have to be sliced from current funding for the Education Department to meet 1988 deficit-reduction targets, most observers agree that such cuts are unlikely.

The agencies estimated that domestic programs would have to be4slashed by 19 percent from 1987 levels to meet the goals set by the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings balanced-budget law.

But without an automatic mechanism to make across-the-board cuts--such as the method the U.S. Supreme Court struck down last year--the reductions would require an act of Congress. In addition, any agreement on restoring the automatic mechanism would probably also modify the deficit targets.

Many lawmakers favor attaching a new budget-cutting mechanism to a long-term debt-extension bill in a bid to force President Reagan to agree to tax increases. But legislative leaders failed to agree on such a provision before their August recess, and the Congress approved another temporary extension.

The Education Department has opened its competition to select contractors for the 16 clearinghouses that make up the Educational Resources Information Centers system. But bids for operating controversial new additions to the system will not be solicited until later this year.

Legislators and center officials have contended that the planned additions--a central clearinghouse called Access eric and adjunct centers to be run by interested private8groups--will drain money from the existing system unless the department requests and receives considerably more funding. The department has estimated the annual cost of Access eric alone at $500,000, but is seeking just $300,000 in additional funding for the entire system in fiscal 1988.

Chester E. Finn Jr., assistant secretary for educational research and improvement, told a House subcommittee in July that eric could use more money but that the system could use its existing funds more efficiently.

He said the department had not decided whether to proceed with the expansion if the Congress does not provide the requested funding increase, which was included in the appropriations bill passed recently by the House.

Colleges, universities, and proprietary schools could be forced to document student achievement as a condition of accreditation, under new regulations proposed by the Education Department.

The regulations, scheduled to be published in the Federal Register this week, would change the criteria by which the department draws up its list of nationally recognized accrediting agencies.

To be included on the list, agencies would have to meet a number of new requirements, such as emphasizing educational outcomes and student assessment in their accreditation policies and ensuring that the institutions they certify "truthfully and adequately represent themselves to the public" on matters such as gradel10luation and job-placement rates.

In addition, the regulations would require the agencies to mandate testing or counseling for students who apply to postsecondary institutions without completing high school--a provision reflecting new "ability to benefit" rules for student aid written into the Higher Education Amendments of 1986.

"Traditionally, accrediting agencies have looked at inputs--how many books are in the library and how many faculty members have Ph.D.'s," Secretary of Education William J. Bennett said in a statement announcing the proposals. "But the focus should also be on outcomes."

Secretary Bennett is soliciting comments from selected educators, prominent Americans, and the public as part of a study marking the fifth anniversary of the landmark report A Nation at Risk.

In letters sent last week to 700 education leaders and experts in other fields, the Secretary asked for assessments of the progress of school reform. He also requested public comments in a notice in the Federal Register.

The department will also survey several hundred high-school principals on the effects of reform, and will evaluate changes in the courses taken by high-school students.

An expanded version of the department's popular booklet "What Works" includes 18 new entries on such topics as television viewing, after-school jobs, special education, and student behavior problems.

In a new foreword, Secretary Bennett answers critics who have said the booklet merely repeats standard4knowledge. "Perhaps people need to be reminded of 'what everyone knows'; common sense has to be reinforced and acted upon," he writes.

Spanish-language versions of free booklets explaining the two major civil-rights laws and how they are enforced have also been produced by the department.

The booklets focus on Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race or national origin in federally funded programs, and Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments, which bars sex discrimination in federally funded education programs.

The publications, available from the department's office for civil cights, explain the laws' provisions and procedures for filing a complaint with o.c.r.

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist has reinstated federal funding for religious organizations that participate in a program counseling teen-agers to abstain from sex.

The Reagan Administration has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court a lower court's ruling that religious groups made unconstitutional use of the money to teach religious concepts.

Mr. Rehnquist's order allows funding to continue pending a review by the entire Supreme Court.

A Boston Municipal Court judge has dismissed assault charges brought against Glenn C. Loury, the Harvard University economist who was slated to be nominated as undersecretary of education until he withdrew from consideration two days before he allegedly attacked a female companion.

A prosecutor told the court last month that the woman, Pamela E. Foster, had moved out of the state and did not wish to pursue her complaint. Mr. Loury had pleaded innocent to the charges.

Alicia Coro is scheduled to step in this week as director of the Education Department's office of bilingual education and minority languages affairs.

Ms. Coro, who served for more than a year as acting director of the department's office for civil rights, was named to the bilingual-education post last month.

She succeeds Carol Pendas Whitten, who resigned in July after a two-year tenure.

Prior to joining the federal government, Ms. Coro was a teacher and supervisor and directed an adult English-as-a-second-language program in Montgomery County, Md. She is a native of Havana, Cuba.

Vol. 07, Issue 01

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