News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

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Title I Director LeTendre Announces Retirement

The longtime director of the federal Title I program, Mary Jean LeTendre, announced her retirement last week, which will end her nearly 30-year career at the Department of Education.

Ms. LeTendre plans to leave the post, which she has held for the past 15 years, in January. A former Title I teacher and reading specialist, she has held a wide variety of jobs at the Education Department since 1971.

In a news release, Education Department officials called Ms. LeTendre a strong advocate for needy children who has focused her attention on homeless, neglected, and delinquent young people.

"Mary Jean has been an unwavering champion for disadvantaged children throughout her entire career, and that won't end when she leaves federal service," Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley said in the news release announcing her retirement.

—Joetta Sack

BIA Official Apologizes to Indians

The head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs apologized this month for what he termed his agency's past educational abuses and urged a new commitment to Native Americans and their heritage.

Kevin Gover, the assistant secretary for Indian affairs in the Department of the Interior, made his speech during a ceremony commemorating the BIA's 175th anniversary.

The BIA traumatized the American Indian population by outlawing native traditions and religious practices and setting up boarding schools to teach children to be ashamed of their heritage, Mr. Gover said in the Sept. 8 speech.

"Worst of all, the [BIA] committed these acts against the children who were entrusted to its boarding schools, brutalizing them emotionally, psychologically, physically, and spiritually," said Mr. Gover, who emphasized that he only spoke on behalf of the BIA and not the nation at large.

— Joetta Sack

House OKs Even Start Legislation

The House approved changes last week to the Even Start family-literacy program that would allow children older than age 8 to be served by the program, religious organizations to receive Even Start grants, and instructors to gain access to more training.

The proposed Literacy Involves Families Together Act, HR 3222, passed on a voice vote Sept. 12. It would increase Even Start funding from the current $150 million to $250 million in fiscal 2001. In addition, it would rename the program the William F. Goodling Even Start Family Literacy Programs, in honor of the retiring chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, Rep. Bill Goodling, R-Pa.

The bill still needs Senate approval, which could prove difficult. Even Start will likely "be subject to the same problems that the [Elementary and Secondary Education Act] has been subjected to," said Joe Karpinski, a spokesman for Sen. James M. Jeffords, the Vermont Republican who chairs the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. The ESEA reauthorization has been stalled in Congress since last spring.

— Linda Jacobson

Vol. 20, Issue 3, Page 28

Published in Print: September 20, 2000, as News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
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