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Bennett Opposed to Increased Private-School Regulation

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Bennett Opposed to Increased Private-School Regulation

Washington--Private schools whose students would receive tuition tax credits or vouchers if Administration proposals became law should not be subject to increased federal regulation, Secretary of Education William J. Bennett indicated last week.

"I would be hesitant to regulate private schools," he said. "They are private after all, and the benefit goes to the families and not to the schools," he explained, speaking at the annual legislative conference of the Council of Great City Schools. A coalition of 35 of the nation's largest urban school districts, the council has typically opposed Reagan Administration policies.

The extent to which those private schools with students receiving federal benefits would be subject to in-creased federal regulations "de3pends on a variety of circumstances," Mr. Bennett added.

Vows Push on Tax Credits

Mr. Bennett also disputed the contention that the Congress will not pass tax-credit legislation, as predicted by Senator John H. Chafee, Republican of Rhode Island and a member of the tax-writing Finance Committee.

"I think if it's a dead issue, it's not going to be dead for long," the Secretary said. "We're going to be talking about it a lot."

After implementation of the tax credit, Mr. Bennett predicted, not more than 30 percent of the nation's students would attend private schools. Nonpublic schools currently enroll about 12 percent of students.

"I do not think that this proposal signals the end of the public-school system, nor do I think it is a declaration of war," he said, repeating the Administration's argument that tax credits would encourage competition between the public and private sectors and thus ultimately improve public education.

Doubts on State Mandates

Answering questions at a luncheon meeting with the urban educators, Mr. Bennett also expressed doubts about state mandates as a mechanism for school reform.

He said he is concerned "education reform not simply take the form of increased regulation or quash or inhibit flexibility where it is needed."

He said state governments should set only general guidelines and "allow for a variety of virtuosity and individuality" among local districts.


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