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The House last week approved the Clinton Administration's proposed "school-to-work opportunities act,'' HR 2884, by a voice vote. The bill would authorize $300 million in fiscal 1995 and unspecified amounts through 2002 for a national system to ease students into the labor market. It now awaits Senate action.

On the House floor, Rep. Steve Gunderson, R-Wis., raised concerns about an amendment that would require state agencies to sign off on any part of a state's school-to-work plan over which they have jurisdiction. Mr. Gunderson worried that the language would make it more difficult to create an integrated, collaborative system.

In a related action, Administration officials confirmed last week that they will allow local partnerships to apply for some of the $100 million in fiscal 1994 funds available to begin planning and implementing school-to-work programs. The decision reverses an October announcement that priority would be given to state planning-and-implementation grants.

Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley this month urged higher-education leaders to pay closer attention to the reform movement in K-12 education, particularly the drive to set performance and content standards.

He said reforms at the K-12 level will redefine who and what is taught at colleges and universities.

"Some may say this may not be the business of higher education, but I believe otherwise,'' Mr. Riley said at a conference of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges. "Simply the setting of standards will have a tremendous impact.''

Higher standards for students should allow institutions to direct money away from remedial education, Mr. Riley told NASULGC members, and higher expectations may require college leaders to rethink the balance their institutions strike between teaching and research.

Parents will be expecting more "first flight'' professors to teach undergraduate courses, he said.

"The American people are indeed very much in a show-me mood, whether it's the White House or the statehouse or how we educate their children in the schools and the colleges and the universities,'' Mr. Riley said.

Parental Consent Stands: The U.S. Supreme Court last week let stand a Mississippi law that requires girls under age 18 to get the permission of both parents or a judge before having an abortion.

The Court declined to review a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that the provision of the state's abortion law covering unmarried young women does not on its face violate the U.S. Constitution.

The High Court has upheld other states' parental-notice and -consent laws as long as they allow for a "judicial bypass,'' in which young women can go before a judge to state that they are mature enough to make the abortion decision without parental input, or that they would be endangered by telling their parents. The Mississippi law includes such a provision.

NAFTA in the Schools: An easy win for the North American Free Trade Agreement was expected this week in the Senate, following last week's approval of the controversial pact in the House.

While NAFTA, which would lift trade barriers between the United States, Mexico, and Canada, includes no education provisions, observers say schools may feel its effects. They cite the prospect of new immigration patterns, a heightened need to revamp vocational programs to meet workplace demands, and a new impetus to coordinate curricula and procedures to permit greater transferability of students between the United States and Mexico. (See Education Week, Nov. 10, 1993.)

Scholarship Suit: A federal district court last week dismissed a lawsuit against the University of Maryland that alleges that a scholarship available only to blacks is unconstitutional.

The summary judgment issued by Judge J. Frederick Motz was his second in favor of the university in Podberesky v. Kirwin. His earlier ruling was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and remanded to him for trial.

Richard Samp, a lawyer for the Washington Legal Foundation, which is bringing the suit on behalf of a Hispanic student, Daniel Podberesky, plans an appeal.

Vol. 13, Issue 12

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