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Deny Teen-Age Drug Users Licenses, Says Bennett

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WASHINGTON--To help curb drug use among the nation's youths, Secretary of Education William J. Bennett has suggested that states deny driving privileges to teen-agers convicted of drug-related offenses.

In a March 20 letter to the nation's governors, Mr. Bennett said research has shown that the key to effective anti-drug programs is "tough and consistent'' policies.

"Delaying access to a driver's license--something nearly every young person eagerly anticipates, and something that should be used only by a responsible person in complete control of his or her faculties--would, I think, be one such policy,'' Mr. Bennett said.

He suggested making teen-agers convicted of drug offenses ineligible for a driver's license for a certain period of time, the length of which would be commensurate with the severity of the offense.

At least one state, Oregon, already has such a policy, the Secretary noted.

In Oregon, teen-agers who have been convicted of a drug- or alcohol-related offense may not obtain a driver's license until they are 17 or 18 years old, depending on the violation.

"It's not an education idea, narrowly defined,'' Mr. Bennett wrote, "but since the problem of drugs powerfully affects our children's education as it does other parts of their lives, it's an issue of critical importance to educators and parents.''

'White Papers'

Also in the letter, Mr. Bennett said he has instructed his staff to prepare on a trial basis a series of education-related "white papers.''

These papers, he said, will provide "useful and important facts'' on such topics as dropouts, administrative costs, alternative routes to teacher certification, and adult literacy.

In a speech to a group of educators in Missouri late last month, President Reagan said that producing such documents is the most important task the federal government can undertake to aid education nationwide. "Sound information is crucial,'' the President said. (See Education Week, April 1, 1987.)

"I'll do my best to see to it that these white papers are reliable, relevant, and to the point,'' Mr. Bennett told the governors in the letter. "I will then circulate them to you, along with a cover letter suggesting some implications and conclusions.''

The department will continue to produce the white papers, Mr. Bennett said, as long as they are found to be useful.

To obtain more information about the series of white papers, write to the U.S. Education Department, Office of the Deputy Undersecretary, 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Room 4079, Washington, D.C. 20202.--B.R.

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