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Federal File: Special-Education Effort; Miller Time; A Stop At A Time

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Shortly after making his first major statement on bilingual education last week, Secretary of Education William J. Bennett began turning his attention to another complex issue: the education of handicapped pupils.

Officials in the Education Department's office of special education and rehabilitative services said Mr. Bennett has invited experts on special education to gather this week to begin developing a policy statement on the subject.

The group was to meet last Monday and again Oct. 15 before drafting a special-education "white paper." The group includes Madeleine C. Will, assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services, as well as professors of special education, principals, teachers, and representatives of parent and professional organizations.

Gary Lambour, the special-education project officer charged with coordinating the meetings, said the group will discuss the "various barriers in special or regular education for children with learning disabilities."

The Secretary's selection of priorities is bemusing to some.

Commenting on the bilingual initiative, Polly Gault, staff director of the Senate education subcommittee, told The New York Times: "It's odd that he would come up with this kind of a proposal at this time. We just finished dealing with bilingual legislation, and we're in the middle of a $12-billion higher-education bill."

James C. Miller 3rd, President Reagan's nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget, said last week that he "would not put anything out of bounds" in his drive to cut federal spending.

Speaking at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, Mr. Miller--who has chaired the Federal Trade Commission since 1981--endorsed omb's role in deregulating federal programs and supported limits on entitlement programs, such as grant and loan programs for college students.

Mr. Miller's appointment was reported likely to be cleared by the committee and confirmed by the Senate without opposition.

Opponents of the Hatch Amendment regulations have taken another step in their campaign to repeal those rules--which allow parents to object to certain types of federally financed psychological tests, particularly those that elicit information about values and beliefs.

The advocates of repeal say that Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, has agreed to sponsor a bill in the Congress that they say would curb the possibility of federal intrusion into classrooms.

But when asked how the measure would get from its introduction as a bill to enactment into law before the Congress adjourns this fall--and another school year passes with the regulations in place--one coalition member sighed and said, "One step at a time."--at & jh

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