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Senate Confirms Kunin As Deputy Secretary

The Senate has confirmed Madeleine M. Kunin's nomination to be deputy secretary of education.

Ms. Kunin, a former governor of Vermont, was named to the Education Department's number-two post in January after playing a prominent role on President Clinton's transition team.

The Senate confirmed her nomination Feb. 18 by unanimous consent.

President Clinton has nominated Mary Jo Bane, New York State's commissioner of social services, to be the assistant secretary for children and families in the Department of Health and Human Services.

As head of the Administration of Children and Families, which has a $30 billion budget, she would oversee such programs as Head Start, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training program, and child-support enforcement.

A White House announcement on the nomination last month said Ms. Bane, who has written several books and articles on poverty and welfare, would play a key role in developing a welfare-reform initiative.

Ms. Bane has been the social-services commissioner in New York since April 1992 and also served as deputy commissioner, heading a task force on poverty and welfare, from 1984 to 1986. She has also held several university posts directing social- and urban-policy research, was an assistant secretary at the Education Department from 1980 to 1981, and has been a Peace Corps volunteer and a junior high school teacher.

Other H.H.S. nominees announced last week include Walter D. Broadnax, a Carter Administration veteran who is now president of the Center for Governmental Research in Rochester, N.Y., as deputy secretary, and David T. Ellwood, the academic dean and a professor of public policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, as assistant secretary for planning and evaluation.

The Education Department is seeking comments on a proposal to change the federal definition for students with "serious emotional disturbances.''

Under the proposed definition, which is used to determine eligibility for special-education programs, children who are emotionally disturbed exhibit emotional or behavioral responses that are so different from the norm for their age or cultural group that they adversely affect educational performance. The students' problems must also be exhibited in at least two settings--one of which is school-related--and their problems must be unresponsive to any kind of direct educational intervention.

The proposed category would also include children with conduct, anxiety, schizophrenic, or other sustained disorders that affect their schooling.

The proposal, which was published in the Feb. 10 Federal Register, parallels a recommendation made last year by a coalition of mental-health and special-education groups. (See Education Week, April 29, 1992.) The department was required to issue a proposed definition under an amendment last year to a bill reauthorizing the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

It is unclear whether changing the definition would raise the number of emotionally disturbed children in special education. Such children, considered the most underserved of all special-education groups, now make up about 1 percent of disabled children in schools.

Comments on the proposal are due May 11.

The leaders of a privately funded effort to develop a national examination system have sent a letter to President Clinton and Congress urging caution in authorizing national assessments.

Lauren B. Resnick and Marc S. Tucker--the directors of the New Standards Project, an examination project that was piloted last spring in 17 states and six school districts--said that a federally mandated set of exams "could stifle diversity and force all assessments into a single mold.''

The two-page letter by the Campaign for Genuine Accountability in Education, a coalition led by FairTest, the Cambridge, Mass.-based advocacy group, recommends that, rather than create a national system, legislation should "enhance state and local efforts to implement new forms of assessment."

Vol. 12, Issue 23, Page 28

Published in Print: March 3, 1993, as Capital Digest
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