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Concerns Raised Over Redesign of ERIC

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WASHINGTON--Eighteen members of the House Education and Labor Committee have sent a letter to Secretary of Education William J. Bennett voicing concern about a plan to redesign the federal Educational Resources Information Centers.

The letter asked the Education Department to withdraw its proposal to merge 2 of the system's 16 clearinghouses and to allow the Congress more time to review the plan, said an aide to Representative William D. Ford, Democrat of Michigan and a signatory of the letter.

The department's plan, released last month, calls for the merger of the teacher-education clearinghouse and the center on counseling and personnel, as well as the creation of a new clearinghouse for statistics and the renaming of several centers. It would also create a marketing and promotion arm for the system, called ACCESS ERIC. (See Education Week, April 8, 1987.)

In a statement released this month, the council of ERIC directors expressed its opposition to the plan.

They described the proposed merger as "ill conceived and arbitrary,'' and said the proposed $300,000 increase in funding for ERIC next year would not be enough to finance ACCESS ERIC and to maintain existing services at their current levels. They also said the proposed name changes would confuse many ERIC users.

James Bencivenga, a spokesman for the office of educational research and improvement, said department officials have met with Congressional staff members to discuss their concerns. He said "a different kind of consolidation might occur'' than was originally proposed, and that a merger might be necessary to pay for the ACCESS ERIC program.--E.F.

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