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The Clinton Administration is reviewing a federal appeals-court decision calling on the government to explain why it did not adjust the 1990 Census to compensate for undercounts of minorities and low-income citizens.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit last month remanded the case, City of New York v. U.S. Department of Commerce, to federal district court, with a 2-1 appeals-court majority ruling that the government must justify its reasoning for not using the adjusted figures.

The lower court had sided with the Commerce Department, which decided against making the census adjustment during the Bush Administration.

Billions of dollars are at stake in numerous federal programs that use census figures to allocate funds, including the Chapter 1 compensatory-education program and the Goals 2000: Educate America Act.

It is unclear whether the Clinton Administration will appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court and defend the Bush Administration's position.

A Census Bureau spokesman said the matter is "under review at the Commerce Department and the Justice Department."

Science Policy

Raising the science literacy of all Americans should be a priority of the U.S. educational system in partnership with government and industry, the Clinton Administration argues in a policy statement on its science-and-technology goals.

"Science in the National Interest," issued this summer by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, focuses on the new Goals 2000: Educate America Act as a mechanism for spurring cooperation toward that goal. But the document also stresses the "special obligations of our scientific and technical community to help meet this critically important national challenge."

Research Board

The Education Department is seeking nominees to fill 10 seats on a new 15-member board that will help guide its research activities.

The issue of how much control the new National Educational Research Policy and Priorities Board would have over the research agenda was the central issue earlier this year when Congress reauthorized the department's office of educational research and improvement.

The department is seeking nominees for slots earmarked for professional educators working in schools and for individuals knowledgeable about the nation's educational needs, such as state officials, administrators, or business people, according to a notice in the Aug. 10 Federal Register.

Nominations are due Sept. 12, and can be sent to Diane Rossi, Office of the Secretary of Education, Attention: National Educational Research Policy and Priorities Board, 600 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20202-0106.

Hispanic Initiative

President Clinton has appointed a new director of the White House initiative on Hispanic education.

Alfred R. Ramirez, who was previously the senior liaison to the White House at the Corporation for National Service, will help coordinate the activities of a 25-member advisory commission created by an executive order in February.

Raul Yzaguirre, the president of the National Council of La Raza, will serve as chairman of the panel, which will develop its priorities at its first meeting on Sept. 23.

President Bush created a similar commission, which some observers criticized as being ineffective. (See Education Week, Oct. 16, 1993.)

"This [commission] will be a departure," Mr. Ramirez said.

Aid Jeopardized

Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley has warned that California stands to lose $2.3 billion in federal education funds if it enacts a proposal to cut educational benefits to illegal immigrants that will appear on the state ballot this November.

The so-called "Save Our State" initiative would prevent schools from educating illegal immigrant children and require them to report the immigration status of all their students and their parents to federal officials. (See Education Week, June 8, 1994.)

Federal law bars schools from asking about their students' immigration status, and a 1982 Supreme Court decision required schools to educate all students regardless of immigration status.

Mr. Riley's comments came in a letter responding to a query from a Los Angeles County supervisor.

S.S.I. Review

In light of charges that parents have "coached" their children to behave in certain ways in school to make them eligible for federal funds intended for disabled poor children, Congress has set up a panel to review the Social Security Administration program.

Under the $4.3 billion Supplemental Security Income program, parents receive up to $446 a month in cash stipends if their children qualify.

The commission--mandated by a new law making the S.S.A. independent of the Health and Human Services Department--will work with the National Academy of Sciences to examine ways of changing the program to avoid fraud, such as providing vouchers for educational or other services instead of cash.

The panel's report is due by Nov. 30, 1995.

In an analysis released last spring, the S.S.A reviewed 600 childhood disability cases and found only 13 where there was some evidence of possible fraud. (See Education Week, June 1, 1994.)

Budget Advances

The Senate has passed a fiscal 1995 appropriations bill for the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education departments, clearing the way for lawmakers to iron out differences between House and Senate versions when they return from their summer recess later this month.

The Senate's version of the bill would provide $27.4 billion for Education Department programs, roughly $250 million more than the House. (See Education Week, Aug. 3, 1994.)

Service Grants

The Corporation for National and Community Service announced $30 million in grants last month to "bring community service to the classroom."

The corporation awarded a total of 104 Learn and Serve America grants to state education agencies and nonprofit groups.

The states, which will award grants to school districts and community groups, have already begun fielding proposals focusing on such topics as crime, the environment, and local history.

The corporation estimates that 350,000 elementary, middle, and high school students will participate in the program this year.

School Lunch

The Senate approved legislation last month to reauthorize the school lunch and breakfast programs that would expand the programs and require schools to meet nutritional guidelines recently proposed by the U.S. Agriculture Department by the 1996-97 school year.

In proposing the sweeping regulations earlier this summer, the agency proposed a 1998 deadline.

The companion bill that passed the House last month does not mention the proposed U.S.D.A. regulations. (See Education Week, Aug. 3, 1994.)

While the House version would allow schools to stop serving whole milk if it accounts for less than 1 percent of sales, the Senate bill would drop the whole-milk requirement altogether, but would require the U.S.D.A. to buy an equivalent amount of milk fat for schools--in the form of low-fat cheese--to make up any loss to the dairy industry.

The Senate bill would also require the U.S.D.A. to notify schools about the nutritional value of food found in campus vending machines and inform school officials of their right to ban them. The House version has no such provision.

The differences are expected to be resolved in a House-Senate conference later this month.

Defaults Drop

The U.S. Treasury will spend $2 billion to pay off defaulted student loans this fiscal year, according to an annual update released last week by the Education Department.

Default costs have declined steadily for the past three years, and the latest figures represent a $1.6 billion drop since fiscal 1991, when defaults peaked at $3.6 billion.

Student-loan default rates have also decreased, falling from 22.4 percent in 1990 to 15 percent in fiscal 1992, the most current year for which data is available.

Vol. 14, Issue 01

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