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A host of higher-education organizations, led by the American Council on Education, last week announced their opposition to the Education Department's proposed policy on minority scholarships.

Higher-education officials denounced the policy at a news conference, arguing that it is legally flawed and would irreparably harm efforts to recruit minority students.

Robert H. Atwell, the A.C.E. president, added in a letter to department officials that "no good reason for the proposed change is evident.''

The proposed policy, formally published on Dec. 4 after a year of public controversy, says that race-exclusive scholarships violate civil-rights law unless they are established by the Congress or used to correct past discrimination.

The proposed rules specify that race may be one factor used in determining scholarship recipients, and that awards designed to foster "diversity'' on campus would be acceptable. But the higher-education groups say this approach does not send enough of a signal to prospective students.

The Education Department was soliciting comment on the matter until this Monday, and is expected to issue final regulations soon.

The Senate Finance Committee last week approved a tax bill that includes a proposal for income-contingent direct loans.

The proposal calls for a four-year pilot program in 500 schools, starting in the 1993-94 academic year. Loans would be made directly to students by the federal government via colleges.

Repayment, through a payroll deduction, would be tied to earnings.

The program would supplement, and not replace, the Guaranteed Student Loan program.

The tax bill is expected to go to the Senate floor this week, but President Bush has threatened to veto a bill that includes a direct-loan plan.

John Frohnmayer, a supporter of arts education, last month resigned as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Mr. Frohnmayer reportedly was asked to step down after the N.E.A. became an issue in the New Hampshire Republican primary. Some groups had called for his resignation because he approved the funding of artworks that they deemed obscene.

Last fall, Mr. Frohnmayer helped direct an effort to promote the arts in education reform. He also urged the the National Council on Educational Standards and Testing to include the arts in the setting of national education standards.

"There's an energy and momentum that we feel in arts education that's reflective of his leadership,'' said Carol Sterling, the director of arts education for the American Council for the Arts.

Universities and government institutions should place as much emphasis on science teaching as on research, 53 leading scientists assert in a report for the National Science Foundation.

"America's Academic Future,'' released last month, was prepared by recipients of the N.S.F.'s Presidential Young Investigator Awards.

The researchers suggest that government should provide industry with incentives to introduce new technologies into precollegiate education, and that colleges and the N.S.F. should encourage science, mathematics, and engineering faculty to "prepare better materials for [the] K-12 curriculum.''

The Education Department has released a booklet designed to help educators create "drug-free schools.''

The booklet includes profiles of five schools cited by the department as part of its Drug-Free Schools Recognition Program, as well as information about 102 other public- and private-school winners.

Copies of the guide, "Success Stories from Drug-Free Schools: A Guide for Educators, Parents, and Policymakers,'' are available for free from the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, P.O. Box 2345, Rockville, Md., 20854; telephone 1-800-SAY-NO-TO.

A General Accounting Office survey of 15 school districts has found that all have removed at least some asbestos from their school buildings.

The report, written at the request of Representative John J. LaFalce, Democrat of New York, found that, between 1988 and 1991, the districts spent about $28.2 million on asbestos abatement. They received only $142,000 from the federal government and $213,000 from the state level for such efforts.

The report said it was hard to estimate how much had been spent nationally on school asbestos abatement. Some school officials interviewed for the report said the cost of asbestos projects forced them to defer or delay maintenance or capital improvements.

Vol. 11, Issue 25

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