A House subcommittee is scheduled to act this week on legislation that would force the Education Department to set hiring goals for minorities and women, something it has refused to do since William J. Bennett took charge of the agency.
The bill, HR 3330, which is to be considered by the Employment Opportunities Subcommittee, would give the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission the power to initiate legal action against federal agencies that refuse to include goals and timetables in their affirmative-action plans.
Mr. Bennett, who opposes racial quotas as discriminatory, has refused to set hiring goals both as Secretary of Education and previously as chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission have taken the same stance.
Federal agencies are required by law to practice affirmative action. But, although the eeoc has the authority to set regulations in that area, there is no enforcement mechanism. Current regulations require plans to include hiring goals in some instances.
Hearings were held on similar legislation in the past two Congressional terms, but the proposal never came to a vote.
Families of four of the astronauts who died in the 1986 space-shuttle explosion--including Sharon Christa McAuliffe, the New Hamp2p4shire teacher-astronaut--have received tax-free annuities worth a total of $7.7 million in a settlement of legal claims against the federal government and the manufacturer whose rocket was blamed for the disaster.
The Justice Department, which refused to divulge terms of the settlement when it was reached more than a year ago, released some details last week to settle a Freedom of Information Act suit brought by seven news organizations.
The agreement requires the rocket manufacturer, Morton Thiokol Inc., to bear 60 percent of the costs, with the government paying the balance. The documents released last week do not indicate specifically how much each family is to receive.
Ms. McAuliffe was chosen over thousands of educators in a highly publicized competition to be the first private citizen in space. She was killed along with six other astronauts when the space shuttle Challenger exploded.
A Presidential commission blamed the accident on a faulty booster rocket built by Morton Thiokol, which has reached separate settlements with the relatives of other astronauts. One such suit is still pending.
Secretary of Defense Frank C. Carlucci, disagreeing with a proposal made by Secretary of Education William J. Bennett, said last week that enforcing drug laws is not the mission of the armed forces.
"The military should be supportive," Mr. Carlucci told the Associated Press. "But I would be very much against giving the military arrest authority or getting them into law enforcement."
Mr. Bennett, speaking at the White House Conference for a Drug-Free America, had urged "broader use of military force against both the production and shipment of drugs."
The House has passed unanimously a bill that would allow North and South Carolina to employ student bus drivers through June 15.
The bill would circumvent a decision by the Labor Department last month that required the two states to meet an April 1 deadline for converting to an all-adult driving force.
The department's action came after officials learned that many districts in the states were violating the provisions of a December plan that allowed school systems to use student drivers through the end of the school year--but only those with unblemished driving records.
Congressional aides said the bill was a response to concerns raised by educators in both states that not enough money had been budgeted in this fiscal year to pay for higher bus-driver salaries. About 1,200 of South Carolina's 6,000 drivers and 2,000 of North Carolina's 13,000 drivers are 17 years old.
A wave of protests last week at Gallaudet University, the world's only liberal-arts college for the deaf, also disrupted classes for the precollegiate students who attend model schools for the deaf located on the university's campus in Washington.
The two federally funded schools--Kendall Demonstration Elementary School and the Model Secondary4School for the Deaf--were shut down along with the rest of the university as members of Gallaudet's faculty, staff, and student body took to the streets to protest the selection of an educator who is not deaf as the university's new president.
The protesters demanded that the newly appointed administrator, ElisabethAnn Zinser, be replaced by a president who is hearing-impaired. Late last week, Ms. Zinser announced that she would rescind the university's job offer. She had been appointed to the post on March 6.
Vol. 07, Issue 25