Federal File: Women's day; Flexibility

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Hillary Rodham Clinton observed International Women's Day with a visit to Luther Jackson Middle School in Falls Church, Va., a Washington suburb.

The first lady made the trip last week instead of March 8, the official women's day, because of poor weather on the original date. She led 23 8th-grade civics students--of both sexes--in a discussion of sexism, domestic violence, and gender stereotyping, according to The Washington Post. Another 400 students listened in the school's auditorium.

Meanwhile, Deputy Secretary of Education Madeleine M. Kunin and the assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services, Judith E. Heumann, who were delegates six months ago at the United Nations World Conference on Women in Beijing, reported on the Department of Education's gender-equity efforts at a Washington seminar.

According to a news release, the department is working on a national assembly on girls' and women's education, a public-awareness campaign on sex discrimination, a "leadership forum" designed to foster women leaders, a campaign to spur corporations to become "family friendly," and devising strategies to increase the number of women pursuing careers in science, math, and technology.

"The U.S. Department of Education is committed to gender equity in all of its programs and to the elimination of gender bias in education activities," Ms. Kunin said in the news release.

Tucked into the Senate's omnibus 1996 appropriations bill is language that would double the number of "Ed-Flex" states.

The Senate's version of HR 3019, which is expected to pass that body this week, calls for six more states to receive the Ed-Flex designation. Similar language is not included in the House bill, and it is unclear whether a conference committee would accept it. (See story, this page.)

The Goals 2000: Educate America Act authorized the Education Department to give the designation to six states, allowing them to waive certain federal rules if schools or districts show that the rules are barriers to academic improvement.

Vermont was named the sixth state last week. The others are Kansas, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oregon, and Texas.

--Mark Pitsch

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