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Federal File: In Bennett's footsteps, Misery at E.D., Dukakis and the pledge

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Undersecretary of Education Linus Wright, who is likely to succeed Secretary William J. Bennett when he departs in September, has begun following in Mr. Bennett's footsteps, making speeches around the country that echo his themes.

Mr. Wright recently told audiences in Texas and West Virginia that commitment and high standards are more important than increased spending in the drive to improve schools.

"Any time you have quality teachers and quality principals, with parents involved in the process, you don't need additional money,'' Mr. Wright told the League of United Latin American Citizens in McAllen, Tex.

As Mr. Bennett often does, the former Dallas school superintendent cited exemplary local schools in his remarks.

Mr. Wright told reporters in Clarksburg, W.Va., that the federal government's role in education is to provide leadership, sponsor research, and aid the disadvantaged, leaving most curricular and financial responsibility to local governments.

As a group, Education Department workers may be the unhappiest federal employees, the Merit Systems Protection Board reported recently.

Overall, 68 percent of more than 16,000 federal workers surveyed by the board said they were satisfied with their jobs.

But at E.D., only 48 percent reported job satisfaction, the lowest percentage of any agency.
Workers at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which shares a building with the department, reported the highest job-satisfaction rate: 75 percent.

A conservative Congressman is working to call attention to a 1977 veto by Gov. Michael S. Dukakis of Massachusetts, the likely Democratic Presidential nominee, of a bill that would have required teachers to lead students in the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the school day.

In an attempt to portray Mr. Dukakis as extremely liberal, Representative Newt Gingrich, Republican of Georgia, has been circulating copies of Mr. Dukakis's veto message.

"I would just love to see him explain on national television for three or four minutes why a bill requiring the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the school day is unconstitutional,'' Mr. Gingrich told reporters.

The Massachusetts legislature overrode Mr. Dukakis' veto of the bill, even though the U.S. Supreme Court had in 1943 said that kind of requirement is unconstitutional.--J.M.

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