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Bruce M. Alberts, a molecular biologist who is a strong advocate for precollegiate science education, is expected to become the next president of the National Academy of Sciences.

Mr. Alberts, a nationally prominent researcher at the University of California's San Francisco campus, has been the guiding force behind school-improvement initiatives such as the City Science program, which pairs Bay Area teachers with working scientists. (See Education Week, Aug. 5, 1992.)

The academy announced in December that Mr. Alberts had been nominated for a six-year term.

If, as is expected, he is elected in February by the academy's 1,600 members, Mr. Alberts would also automatically assume the chairmanship of the National Research Council, the arm of the academy that is overseeing the development of national standards for science curriculum, teaching, and assessment.

The Education Department has approved a college-financial-aid application to supplement the free form supplied by the federal government.

Congress required the use of a free form when it amended the Higher Education Act. Institutions needing more information than disclosed on the new form were allowed to require supplemental forms approved by the department.

Agency officials had withheld approval of a form developed by the College Board due to concerns about its cost and fears that students would mistakenly believe its use is mandatory.

The College Board agreed to hold the processing fee at last year's level and to add to the form a list of institutions that require its use or accept it as a supplementary application.

The Student Loan Marketing Association is lowering interest rates for new borrowers who make payments on time.

Under the Great Rewards Program, which will begin with loans taken out in July 1993, borrowers who make timely payments for the first 48 months will receive a 2 percentage point decrease in their loan rate.

The Energy Department has released a guide to federal laboratories, facilities, and other resources for science and mathematics educators.

The "Guidebook to Excellence'' was released this month at a White House press conference.

Officials said the guidebook would help educators take advantage of the Executive Order on Improving Mathematics and Science Education Goals, signed by President Bush in November.

The order directs federal agencies, particularly those with scientific, mathematical, or engineering missions, to make teacher-training and precollegiate-education programs a priority. (See Education Week, Nov. 25, 1992.)

Free copies of the guide may be obtained from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information, P.O. Box 62, Oak Ridge, Tenn. 37831; (615) 576-8401.

The Defense Conversion Commission has criticized a Defense Department program designed to provide financial aid to servicemen and servicewomen who want to become teachers after completing their military service.

The program was authorized under the National Defense Authorization Act and received $65 million for fiscal 1993, according to the House Appropriations Committee.

The commission, established by Congress last April to study the consequences of the scaling back of the military, concluded that "the program oversight and funding responsibility is not placed in the agency whose mission would be most directly furthered by success of the program.'' The panel also concluded that its cost seemed out of scale for the estimated 1,000 to 2,000 participants.

A commission staff member said panelists support the program but believe that "the training of teachers and the giving out of awards of money for individuals to become teachers is more of an Education Department responsibility.''

Glenn Flood, a Pentagon spokesman, said department officials were still reviewing the commission's report.

An independent commission last week called on President-elect Bill Clinton to step up civil-rights enforcement.

In a 450-page report, the Citizens Commission on Civil Rights said civil-rights problems would not be resolved by economic recovery alone.

The commission urged the incoming President to order the Justice Department to prevent the dissolution of court orders mandating school desegregation.

It also said more services are needed for people who do not speak English well, and recommended more funding for Chapter 1 and other programs aimed at low-income students.

The commission also advised Mr. Clinton to consider the potential segregative impact of school-choice policies.

The Education Department has issued documents designed to help schools reach the national education goals.

Department employees compiled information related to each of the six goals, according to a news release. The documents mailed to schools last month provide advice on lowering dropout rates and ridding schools of violence and drugs. They include programmatic and policy suggestions, and examples of schools with effective programs.

More information is available through the department's toll-free telephone line, (800) USA-LEARN.

Vol. 12, Issue 17

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