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Anticipating the introduction of school-to-work legislation by the Clinton Administration, two House Republicans have put an alternative proposal on the table.

Reps. Steve Gunderson, R-Wis., and Bill Goodling, R-Pa., who is the ranking Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, unveiled the bill last week.

"What we hope to do with this bill is build on the Administration's commitment to do something,'' Mr. Gunderson told reporters.

The lawmakers said the bill draws on one that was introduced last year, and is considered the chief Republican alternative to the expected Clinton plan. Other lawmakers have introduced school-to-work legislation and more proposals are expected.

The bill calls for the Education and Labor departments to help develop a voluntary system of skill standards. It would give states grants to develop school-to-work and apprenticeship programs.

Mr. Goodling said he expects the Clinton Administration to propose a mandatory system of skill standards, which he said would be issued by "a politicized board.''

"I don't think this is an issue that will separate us in the end,'' he added.

The Education Department's rules regarding comparability of services between schools that receive Chapter 1 remedial-education aid and those that do not "are not as comprehensive'' as Congress intended, the General Accounting Office concludes in a new report.

But, the agency added, it is difficult to predict the likely effect of tougher standards.

To prevent school districts from using Chapter 1 funds to supplant state and local resources, the law requires that services in schools receiving the federal funds be comparable to those in non-Chapter 1 schools.

While it does not specify what "comparability'' means, the law states that a district would be in compliance if it had a districtwide salary schedule and a policy to ensure equivalence between schools in staffing and supplies.

The department's regulations allow districts to use other measures, and most use only the teacher-pupil ratio.

"However, experts and education officials disagree about how best to measure comparability and what added burden broadened criteria would place on school districts,'' the G.A.O. said.

The House has passed a bill allowing federally funded clinics to offer abortion counseling.

Voting 273 to 149, the House last week approved HR 670, the "family planning amendments act.'' It defeated an amendment that would have barred tax-supported clinics from providing abortions to minors unless their parents were notified.

HR 670 would prevent the President from unilaterally prohibiting abortion counseling in federally funded family-planning clinics. The Senate will take up the bill next month.

Meanwhile, the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee last week voted 12 to 5 to approve the "freedom of choice act,'' which would limit state restrictions on abortion.

Vol. 12, Issue 27

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