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Democrats Criticize President

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Washington--Fifteen minutes before President Reagan announced a new federal initiative to combat adult literacy, the Democratic National Committee held a press conference on Capitol Hill to excoriate the Administration's education policies.

"The pious protestations to the contrary, Ronald Reagan has stayed his course on education--and his course has been the deliberate assault on assistance programs for the handicapped, the disadvantaged, and those persons who have suffered discrimination for decades--female students and those who don't speak English as a first language," said Charles T. Manatt, chairman of the Democratic Party organization.

Shirking Responsibility

Representative George Miller, Democrat of California and chairman of the House Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families, and Representative Cardiss Collins, Democrat of Illinois, joined Mr. Manatt and Lynn Cutler, vice-chairman of the dnc, in accusing the Reagan Administration of shirking what they said is the federal government's responsibility to ensure educational opportunities for all groups.

"The role of the federal government in education has been and should be that of protector of women, the handicapped, and the economically disadvantaged," Representative Miller said.

"The Reagan Administration has made a constant effort to diminish, even eliminate, this role."

Mr. Miller said the federal government should support efforts to upgrade academic standards in the public schools, but he did not suggest specific ways in which that might be accomplished.--tt

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