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Alleged Remark Stirs Calls For Official's Resignation

Representative Augustus F. Hawkins, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, last week called for the resignation of the Education Department's deputy undersecretary, after a newspaper article quoted the official as saying that historically black colleges may "contain a high level of thieves.''

The statement attributed to Bruce M. Carnes was contained in a March 15 article in The Wall Street Journal on the Reagan Administration's efforts to reduce student-loan defaults. The deputy undersecretary allegedly said that many of the institutions affected by the policies would be historically black colleges and universities.

"It's possible that their student bodies contain a high level of thieves,'' the newspaper quoted Mr. Carnes as saying.

But Mr. Carnes insisted last week that the article "grievously misrepresented my views.'' And department officials, who have asked the newspaper to retract the statement, said he has no plans to leave and that Secretary of Education William J. Bennett does not intend to fire him.

The day after the article appeared, Mr. Hawkins, a California Democrat, demanded Mr. Carnes's resignation. He said the remark indicated that the deputy undersecretary was "incapable of objectively carrying out his duties.''

Representative Hawkins is also drafting a letter of protest to President Reagan. Mr. Carnes, in a letter to the lawmaker, denied that the quotation was accurate.

"I assure you that I said no such thing and that I repudiate in the strongest terms the sentiments falsely attributed to me,'' he wrote. "The statements are completely at variance with what I believe and what I have stated on numerous occasions, both in Congressional testimony and to the media.''

Bennett Decries 'Distorted' Views in History Lessons

Secretary of Education William J. Bennett said last week that not only do American students not learn enough history, but "some of the history taught to them is distorted.''

Mr. Bennett gave as examples of such "distortion'' articles from Scholastic News, a publication for elementary-school students. One of the articles portrayed Nicaragua in a favorable light and the other said that the last Russian czar had been overthrown by a precursor to the current Communist regime, calling the event "something ... to celebrate.''

In fact, the Secretary noted in a speech to the Heritage Foundation, the Bolsheviks overthrew a provisional government that took power after Czar Nicholas II was ousted.

He quoted Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev as having said that Russians "made their choice'' as Americans did. That version of history, Mr. Bennett said, is similar to the one in the Scholastic News article, and "implies a legitimacy that does not exist.''

"Whatever happens in the Soviet Union, ... our challenge here to be vigilant about truth in history remains,'' he said. "Let it be said ... that we told our children the whole story, the long record of the glories and failures, the aspirations and sins, achievements and victories. Then let us leave them to determine their own views of it all.''

Jump in Vaccine Prices Attributed to New Tax

The cost of immunizing a child has increased significantly since a federal excise tax designed to compensate children injured by vaccines went into effect on Jan. 1, health experts told a Senate panel last week.

In testimony before the Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, they said that since the imposition of the new tax--up to several dollars per dose of four vaccines--the cost for a full series of immunizations has jumped from $97.16 to $117.06.

Lawmakers approved the excise tax last year, in an effort to encourage vaccine makers to lower their prices. Since 1982, the cost of several vaccines has increased by as much as 500 percent.

Revenues from the tax are to go into a federal fund from which injury claims will be paid. Families of injured children can receive compensation under the legislation without having to prove negligence on the part of the vaccine manufacturer.

But at last week's hearing, it was evident that the hoped-for reduction in pricing has not occurred. Witnesses said two manufacturers that had previously been collecting their own surcharges to pay for injury claims have only modestly reduced these charges on the diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine since January.

And the Merck Corporation, the only manufacturer of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, has actually raised the price of its product, according to testimony.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control show that the federal government's per-dose purchase price for the vaccine has jumped from $10.67 to $16.18 since December.

Senators at the hearing questioned whether the Administration's $92.8-million budget request for vaccinations for the 1989 fiscal year would be sufficient.

E.D. Publishes Final Set Of Impact-Aid Regulations

For the first time since the impact-aid program's inception in 1950, there are regulations on the books governing payments to districts where federally owned land equals at least 10 percent of the total property value.

The program, designed to compensate districts for tax revenues lost because of the presence of military bases or other federal activities, operated from 1950 to 1984 without any regulations, causing frequent complaints from legislators and school officials about inconsistencies in funding practices. (See Education Week, Nov. 4, 1987.)

The section 2 regulations for payments based on property value are the fifth and final set of rules to be adopted since the effort to codify the program was begun by the Education Department in 1984.

The final regulations, published in the Feb. 24 issue of the Federal Register, drew more than 120 responses from district officials around the country. A majority were concerned about the possibility of retroactive applications of the regulations or reductions in payments.

The department changed the regulations to state specifically that calculations under the new rules would begin with fiscal 1988 payments.

Most districts are not expected to be affected by the new rules until fiscal 1989.

Changes in the funding formula, particularly the inclusion of state compensation to districts, may mean reduced payments for some areas, according to department officials. But in most instances, they said, "the regulations merely adopt current department policies and procedures.''

The department has also clarified a provision that allows the federal government to estimate the current value of its property by comparing it to commercial property with similar characteristics and locations.

Comments on the clarification, also published Feb. 24, should be directed to W. Stanley Kruger, Director of the Division of Impact Aid, U.S. Education Department, Room 2117, 400 Maryland Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20202.

The Labor Department has reached an agreement with the governors of North and South Carolina that will enable those states to employ student bus drivers under the age of 18 through June 15.

The agreement reached last last week extends an April 1 deadline the department had imposed in February, and makes moot efforts in the Congress to draft legislation allowing the states to miss the deadline.

The changeover to an all-adult driving force, state officials had claimed, would have imposed an unmanageable financial burden on districts, due to the large number of student drivers employed.

Vol. 07, Issue 26

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