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Court Denies Appeal on Removal of Jesus Portrait

The U.S. Supreme Court last week rejected a Michigan school district's appeal of lower-court rulings requiring it to remove a portrait of Jesus that had hung for 30 years in a high school's main corridor.

The High Court on May 1 declined without comment to review the case, Bloomingdale Public Schools v. Washegesic (Case No. 94-1383).

Both a federal district judge and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit had ruled in favor of a student who had challenged the display of Warner Sallman's "Head of Christ" at Bloomingdale High School as an unconstitutional establishment of religion.

The lower courts rejected the school district's arguments that the portrait was displayed for its artistic and historical significance and not as a religious symbol.

School officials removed the portrait shortly before midnight on Feb. 20, which was the deadline set by the district judge.

The Seventh Circuit court also rejected the district's argument that the case should be declared moot because the student who challenged the display, Eric Pensinger, has graduated.

The court said the portrait could still offend him when he enters the school as a community resident.

A Public Broadcasting Fund?: A coalition of four public-broadcasting organizations proposed last week the creation of a trust fund that would gradually replace annual federal appropriations for public-television and -radio stations.

The proposal--presented by the Association of America's Public Television Stations, National Public Radio, the Public Broadcasting Service, and Public Radio International--is a response to calls from some Republicans in Congress to eliminate federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The groups' proposal calls for the trust fund to be financed primarily from the proceeds of sales and leases of the broadcasting spectrum by the federal government.

Meanwhile, a separate proposal from the C.P.B. also calls for a trust fund to wean stations off federal appropriations.

But the C.P.B. is suggesting a private trust fund that would not be financed initially with public aid. The corporation would require continued federal support through 2000, while the private trust fund grew, the C.P.B. proposal suggests.

Interagency Agreement: The Education and Energy departments have signed an agreement to work cooperatively to highlight and develop exemplary programs in mathematics and science education that can help districts meet the national goal of pre-eminence in math and science achievement.

The compact is designed to combine the pedagogical research developed at the Education Department's regional laboratories with the practical, hands-on work being done by many of the Energy Department's facilities to improve science teaching in local communities.

Under the agreement signed last week by Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley and Secretary of Energy Hazel R. O'Leary, a steering committee of representatives from both departments will oversee the development of collaborative pilot projects that will help state and local education agencies adopt research-based teaching strategies.

Vol. 14, Issue 33

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