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The U.S. Supreme Court last week refused to review a Massachusetts court ruling that teachers' unions are not required to provide non-member employees with an independent audit to justify the agency fees they charge for collective-bargaining services.

The case was being pressed by more than 100 public-school teachers and college professors in the state who have refused to join their local teachers' unions, which are affiliated with the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the National Education Association.

The unions may charge non-members so-called agency fees to cover the costs of services related to collective bargaining, but they cannot require them to support other activities.

At issue in Belhumeur v. Massachussetts Education Association, (Case No. 91-1265), was whether a 1986 High Court decision in Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson requires an independent audit of the cost breakdowns that unions provide to non-members.

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachussetts ruled last year that the Hudson case "does not explicitly require'' such independent audits.

The non-members' free-speech rights are not infringed because they can object to the union's cost allocations before an independent fact-finder, the court said.

An advertising watchdog group last week asked the Federal Communications Commission to determine whether a public-television station violated federal rules by running a promotional announcement for a touring "Sesame Street Live'' stage show at the end of a daily broadcast of the "Sesame Street'' show.

The Children's Advertising Review Unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus Inc. contends that the incident was an example of "host selling,'' the practice of having characters promote products or services in messages adjacent to the show in which the characters appear.

The practice is prohibited both by C.A.R.U.'s self-regulatory guidelines and by F.C.C. policy, on the grounds that it takes unfair advantage of children who have difficulty distinguishing between advertising and program content.

The charge stems from an incident last October, when WHYY-TV, the public-broadcasting station in Philadelphia, followed an episode of "Sesame Street'' with an underwriter's message for the touring theatrical production.

Officials of both WHYY and Vee Corporation, the producer of the touring show, denied violating host-selling rules.

The House Appropriations Committee last week approved a $5.8-billion rescission package that would slice $3 million from education programs' budgets for the current fiscal year.

The proposal would cut 1 percent from "delayed funding,'' which was not to be available until the end of the fiscal year. The device was used to hold down outlay totals in a fiscal 1992 spending bill.

The plan would cut $1.5 million from Chapter 1; $620,000 in financial aid and $240,000 from other higher-education programs; $600,000 from vocational and adult education; $20,000 from impact aid; and $10,000 from programs in the educational-research-and-improvement account.

The House bill is a response to President Bush's $5.7-billion rescission proposal.

House Republicans last week unveiled a proposal that would require welfare recipients whose children are at least 3 years old to work part time or attend school to continue receiving benefits. It would also limit eligibility to four years.

Representative Newt Gingrich of Georgia, the Republican whip, told reporters that it would be the first in a series of policy plans, one of which would address education.

He said Republican candidates would use the proposals to sell themselves as a "team for change.''

The National Education Goals Panel is seeking nominations for an expert advisory committee that would help develop a national system of standards and assessments--although the Congress has not yet agreed to the plan.

The advisory panel is part of a plan approved by the National Council on Educational Standards and Testing, a body that included members of Congress and the Bush Administration, as well as governors and education representatives. The NCEST plan also calls for reconstituting the goals panel for political balance.

Language embodying the plan is included in two pending Senate bills. But many House members have reservations about national testing, and are likely to insist on substantial changes, possibly drawing a veto.

The call for nominations for the National Education Standards and Assessment Council appeared in the April 14 Federal Register.

The Education Department has no comprehensive information-management plan, and does not collect sufficient or timely enough data to administer programs effectively or assess their impact, the General Accounting Office concludes in a new report.

For example, the G.A.O. found that the agency does not collect data adequate to respond to Congressional inquiries about the operation of the Chapter 1 program, or to monitor student-loan programs.

Department officials said in a response to the report that they had appointed an information-management committee, and will approve a strategic plan for data management this month.

Vol. 11, Issue 33

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