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Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos announced last week that the department has launched a national study of before- and after-school child-care programs.

The two-year study of academic and recreational programs serving 5- to 13-year-olds will examine the sponsorship and content of 1,300 "nationally representative" programs, Mr. Cavazos said. It will examine such issues as their links with the public schools and how they meet the needs of disadvantaged children.

Mr. Cavazos said the study, to be published in January 1992, would offer "guidance in developing public- and private-sector policy on school-age child care."

Through site visits to 18 schools, the inquiry will also explore how parents select a program; which activities children most enjoy; and ''factors that influence program quality," such as staff salaries, training, and job turnover.

The rmc Research Corporation, Mathematica Policy Research, and Wellesley College's School-Age Child Care Project will conduct the study for the department.

The House last week approved legislation barring discrimination against the disabled.

The House passed the bill by a vote of 403 to 20, after defeating several amendments that would have weakened the measure.

President Bush has said he wants to sign the bill, but the Administration has opposed a provision giving the disabled the right to sue for punitive damages in discrimination cases.

The disabled-rights bill exempts religious entities, but would cover nonsectarian private schools. Most educational institutions are subject to similar provisions under the Rehabilitation Act of 1975, which barred discrimination against the8disabled by institutions receiving federal funds.

Senator Paul Simon said last week that he would sponsor a bill to abolish the Education Department's office for civil rights if it does not become significantly more effective in enforcing civil-rights laws within eight months.

The statement by the Illinois Democrat came during a hearing on President Bush's nomination of Michael L. Williams to head the office. His nomination is expected to be confirmed by the Senate.

In response to senators' questions, Mr. Williams said he would strive to enforce civil-rights laws in a manner that would complement the President's education goals. As an example, he said that ocr should ensure that women and minorities are not "unlawfully underrepresented" in mathematics and science classes, and that school should be barred from using disciplinary or tracking policies that encourage students to drop out.

Vol. 09, Issue 36

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