WASHINGTON: Civil rights in education targeted
The Department of Education plans to intensify its civil rights enforcement efforts in schools around the country, including a deeper look at issues ranging from programs for immigrant students learning English to equal access to college preparatory courses. Education Secretary Arne Duncan plans to outline the department's plans in a speech Monday in Alabama to commemorate the 45th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," in which several hundred civil rights protesters were beaten by state troopers on Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965. The department is expecting to conduct 38 compliance reviews around 40 different issues this year, she said.
Minority business: What stimulus?
Hispanic and black businesses are receiving a disproportionately small number of federal stimulus contracts, creating a rising chorus of demands for the Obama administration to be more inclusive and more closely track who receives government-financed work. Latinos and blacks had faced obstacles to winning government contracts long before the stimulus. They own 6.8 and 5.2 percent of all businesses, respectively, according to census figures. Yet Latino-owned business have received only 1.7 percent of $46 billion in federal stimulus contracts recorded in U.S. government data, and black-owned businesses have received just 1.1 percent. That pot of money is just a small fraction of the $862 billion economic stimulus law. Billions more have been given to states, which have used the money to award contracts of their own. Laura Barrett, director of the Transportation Equity Network, and other minority advocates are calling for complete and publicly accessible demographic information on all contracts and jobs financed by the stimulus.
Seeking next goals in space
President Barack Obama plans to host a conference April 15 in Florida on his administration's approach to the next step in space exploration. The space program is in a holding pattern of sorts. For now, Obama's budget backs private spaceships and developing new rocket technology.
CALIFORNIA: Second girl's remains found
The bones of a 14-year-old girl who vanished more than a year ago while walking to school were discovered Saturday, authorities said Sunday, less than a week after a registered sex offender was charged in the murder of another Southern California girl, Chelsea King, 17. The search for Amber Dubois had produced few leads until King disappeared Feb. 25. A body presumed to be Chelsea's was found in a shallow grave. Amber's skeletal remains were found on the Pala Indian Reservation north of San Diego.