News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

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Judge Mulls Dismissal Of Title IX Lawsuit

A federal judge in Washington heard arguments last week on a Department of Education bid to dismiss a challenge of Title IX rules, but delayed issuing a ruling.

The National Wrestling Coaches Association and other plaintiffs early this year filed suit, challenging rules written in 1979 and 1996 by the Education Department on Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The law was meant to ensure that schools and colleges receiving federal funds give equal educational opportunities to men and women.

The plaintiffs contend that the federal rules in fact discriminate against men and have in some cases caused schools to eliminate men's teams, or to cut roster sizes.

District Judge Emmett G. Sullivan, at the Oct. 15 hearing, asked both sides to submit more legal arguments in writing by Oct. 25. Lawrence Joseph, a lawyer for the wrestling association, said a ruling was likely by late October or early November.

—Ben Wear

Choice Advocates Get $600,000 Federal Grant

The Black Alliance for Educational Options says it will use a $600,000 grant awarded last week by the Department of Education to spread the word about school choice.

The Washington-based group, which favors charter schools, education tax credits, and vouchers, among other options, will use the money to target four cities: Detroit, Milwaukee, Dallas, and Philadelphia, said spokeswoman Andrea T. Williams. The goal is to spread information about the choices offered by the "No Child Left Behind" Act of 2001, Ms. Williams said.

The organization plans to use direct-mail, television, newspaper, and radio advertising, as well as door-to-door campaigning, to let parents know that, in some cases, they can choose to move their children out of failing schools and can seek supplemental education services.

—Michelle R. Davis

Officials Remind Schools Of Recruitment Access

Uncle Sam wants high schools to let military recruiters on campus. In fact, federal law requires it, Secretary of Education Rod Paige and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld reminded 15,000 district superintendents in an Oct. 9 "Dear Colleague" letter.

Donald H. Rumsfeld

Under a little-publicized section of the "No Child Left Behind" Act of 2001, schools must not only allow military recruiters the same access given to college and job recruiters, but must also supply them, if asked, with certain basic information: names, addresses, and telephone listings of juniors and seniors.

However, parents must be given an opportunity in advance to opt out of having such information about their children released to military recruiters, the law says.

The No Child Left Behind Act decreed that for schools to release some student information to military recruiters—absent an "opt-out" by parents—is consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which protects most student records from disclosure.

Daniel Langan, a Department of Education spokesman, said the letter from the two secretaries was not occasioned by any evidence of foot-dragging on the part of schools. Instead, he said, the letter was timed to accompany guidance going out to schools on how to comply with that section of the law.

—Ben Wear

Poll: New Federal Law News to 47 Percent

The "No Child Left Behind" Act of 2001 aims to improve failing schools, which are heavily concentrated in large cities. But nearly half the parents of children enrolled in urban schools haven't heard of the law, a new poll shows.

The telephone poll, commissioned by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform in Providence, R.I., and released Oct. 15, found that 47 percent of the parents had heard of the law and 47 percent had not.

Among Asian, Hispanic, and African-American adults, the lack of information was greater: Fifty-four percent had not heard anything about the law, and 40 percent had.

When pollsters read a summary of the law to the parent respondents, 77 percent reacted "very" or "somewhat" favorably, and 14 percent "not very" or "not at all" favorably.

Among minority adults, reaction was more positive. Eighty-four percent reacted favorably, and 9 percent less than favorably, with 7 percent saying they didn't know.

The poll of 504 adults who live in urban areas was conducted by the Global Strategy Group, a research firm based in New York and Washington. It has an overall margin of error of 4.4 percentage points. The margin of error for the parent respondents is 6.4 percentage points.

—Catherine Gewertz

Spending Bills on Hold Until After Election

Congress last week effectively put off a decision on spending for the Department of Education and a host of other agencies until after the election.

Both the House and the Senate approved a so-called continuing resolution that would keep the government running until Nov. 22 at levels set for fiscal 2002, which ended Sept. 30.

Only two of the 13 spending bills that provide funding for federal agencies have been sent to the White House. The spending bill for the departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services is likely to be one of the most difficult to complete.

President Bush has requested $50.3 billion in discretionary spending for the Education Department. The House GOP leadership has embraced that spending level, but most House Democrats and a handful of moderate Republicans have said it's not enough. The House has taken no action on the education budget, either in committee or on the House floor.

In the Democratic-controlled Senate, the Appropriations Committee passed a bill in July that ups the ante by $2.8 billion over Mr. Bush's Education Department request.

Some analysts say the fiscal 2003 education budget may not be set until early next year.

—Erik W. Robelen

Vol. 22, Issue 8, Pages 20-21

Published in Print: October 23, 2002, as News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
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