Inside: Washington

PRESIDENT OPPOSES GUIDELINES

Lawyers for President Bush have filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that admissions programs at the University of Michigan were unconstitutional.

The president argues that the systems used to admit undergraduate students and law students at the Ann Arbor school are based on race.

The court is expected to hear arguments later this year in the case, which contends that the university's policies violate the constitution.

Bush says the university's policies amount to a quota system that “unfairly rewards or penalizes perspective students, based solely on their race.”

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman disputed Bush's characterization of the school's admissions program.

“We do not have — nor have we ever had — quotas or numerical targets in either the undergraduate or the law school admissions system,” she says. “By far the overwhelming consideration is academic qualification.”


MORE FUNDS FOR POOR SOUGHT

President Bush says he wants Congress to boost spending for Title I education aid to poor students by $1 billion.

“Too many students and lower income families fall behind early, resulting in a terrible gap in test scores between these students and their more fortunate peers,” the president says. “To help close this achievement gap, I will ask Congress to approve an additional $1 billion, a total of $12.3 billion, for the Title I program in the 2004 budget. This would be the highest funding level ever for Title I, which serves our neediest students.”

The president also says he will request an increase of $75 million in spending for federal reading programs in next year's budget. That would bring federal spending on reading programs to more than $1.1 billion. Bush says his requests reflect the priorities he set in last year's “No Child Left Behind” education reform, which seeks greater accountability from schools.


E-RATE TROUBLE

The federal government's E-rate program, which subsidizes technology upgrades for schools and libraries, is victimized by widespread fraud and financial misconduct, according to an investigation by a public-interest group.

The Center for Public Integrity says a report on the fund by the Federal Communications Commission's Inspector General's office indicates problems with the program that range from simple paperwork and reporting errors to false billing and other fraud potentially involving hundreds of millions of dollars.

According to the Center, audits in 2001 at 22 schools or libraries that received funding from the E-rate program unearthed fraud and mismanagement at nearly all the locations examined, including several million dollars in inappropriate disbursements and unsupported costs.

The investigation found that the Universal Service Administration Company, which oversees the E-rate, has begun denying or delaying applications involving IBM, which has been the largest recipient of E-rate funds, because the applicants had not followed proper competitive bidding procedures.


TOP 10 RECIPIENTS OF E-RATE FUNDING IN FISCAL 2001
IBM Corporation $351,546,508
BellSouth Telecommunications, Inc $125,321,130
Southwestern Bell Telephone Company $73,007,307
Verizon-New York Inc. $65,874,186
Vector Resources, Inc. $57,638,513
Verizon-California, Inc. $49,264,999
Spectrum Communications $46,263,565
Pacific Bell $44,954,698
Qwest Corporation (formerly US West Communications) $42,212,528
SBC DataComm $32,092,850
Source: Center for Public Integrity
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