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News Briefs

House to Consider Limits On Bilingual Education


The House this week plans to consider a proposal meant to help push students with limited English skills into mainstream classrooms nationwide.

The proposal, part of a larger education bill under debate in the House, says that school systems accepting federal aid for such students should seek to give them all-English instruction within three years.

To back up that standard, the legislation says the students should be tested on their English reading and language skills after being in U.S. schools for three -- or at most four -- consecutive years.

Though backed by President Bush, the three-year standard is not part of a companion education bill moving through the Senate. That means its ultimate fate is unclear.

At stake is a potentially important shift in emphasis for federal programs serving hundreds of thousands of the least-advantaged children in American schools.

In recent years, critics have attacked programs that aim to teach limited-English students in their native languages for a substantial part of the school day, complaining that the approach fails to help them master the nation’s dominant tongue. Proponents of bilingual education reply that problems have far more to do with a lack of resources than with curriculum.

Cheney Tells Labor New Energy Plan Means Jobs


Vice President Dick Cheney told labor leaders Monday that the administration’s energy policy would create thousands of jobs and asked the unions to spread that word on Capitol Hill, the leaders said.

Most unions endorsed then-vice president Al Gore in last year’s presidential race, and several labor leaders said President Bush has had little to do with them since taking office. James P. Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, called the policy “the beginning of finding a solution to many of the problems we’re having,” but said he still needed to be assured that all the profits would not “go to Big Oil.”

“I don’t think we’re being used,” Hoffa said of the meeting. “The amount of people involved would be in the literally hundreds of thousands ... . I think it’s important to get people back to work, and I think this is going to be a very important thing to our nation to do this.”

Winning union support for the energy plan, to be released Thursday, would remove a major bloc from the administration’s opposition, which includes many Democrats and environmentalists.