News In Brief

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The House last week passed legislation that would repeal a national certification body created under the Goals 2000: Educate America Act.

The House passed HR 1045, which would eliminate the National Education Standards and Improvement Council, without debate or a recorded vote.

The House Economic and Educational Opportunities Committee approved the measure earlier this month after the panel's chairman promised members other chances to amend or strike other portions of the Goals 2000 law. (See Education Week, 5/17/95.)

No members have ever been named to the council, which was intended to certify national model academic standards and state standards voluntarily submitted to it.

Critics have argued that such a certification panel could become the equivalent of a national school board.

Senate Welfare Plans: Republican governors won a political victory last week when the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Bob Packwood, R-Ore., announced that his welfare-reform plan would propose giving states broad authority to run the programs.

The welfare bill approved earlier by the House would turn over the majority of welfare programs to the states in the form of block grants, but would attach some conditions on how states could use the money.

One such provision would ban welfare benefits to teenage mothers and their children.

The House bill would also cut off many disabled children from cash benefits under the Supplemental Security Income program.

Senator Packwood, whose committee has jurisdiction over the main welfare program, is expected to reject the restrictions when the committee takes up his bill this week.

S.S.I. Report: As the Senate starts crafting its welfare-reform plan, a nonpartisan group of national experts has released recommendations on how to retool a federal program that provides cash benefits to low-income families with disabled children.

The National Academy of Social Insurance recommends maintaining the cash benefits, which now reach $458 a month per child. But the group also called for tightening eligibility criteria, capping the benefits one family with a number of disabled children could receive, and better coordinating services for disabled children.

The Supplemental Security Income program, a $4.5 billion program serving 900,000 children, has been the target of highly publicized charges of fraud and abuse in the past year.

A separate federal panel created last year to evaluate the S.S.I. children's program plans to make formal recommendations as early as next month.

The House has already proposed sweeping changes in the S.S.I. program in its welfare-reform plan, which passed in March. (See Education Week, 3/29/95.)

Copies of the new report are available for $5 each from the National Academy of Social Insurance, 1776 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Suite 615, Washington, D.C. 20036; (202) 452-8097.

Child-Care Scarcity: The scarcity of around-the-clock child care is taking a serious toll on the growing number of U.S. families who work non-standard hours, a new report from the Labor Department says.

More than seven million mothers work non-standard hours, and the trend is increasing, according to "Care Around the Clock: Developing Child Care Resources Before Nine and After Five," which was released this month.

The Women's Bureau of the department started exploring the trend after receiving reports from an Idaho community that parents were leaving their children asleep in their cars while they worked late shifts in a factory.

Copies of the report and a resource guide are available by calling (800) 827-5335.

Vol. 14, Issue 35

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