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Federal File: Moral support; Facing critics; Research reshuffling

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William J. Bennett, who will fight illegal drugs as the nation's first "drug czar," has quit smoking, according to an aide, fulfilling a promise he made when he was nominated.

A coalition of anti-smoking groups has placed a supportive full-page advertisement in The Washington Times and bought local radio spots.

"When you take office, make it a priority to fight this legal drug problem and help prevent millions of others from becoming its victims,'' reads the Feb. 28 newspaper advertisement.

The Education Department has twice faced storms of criticism for denying funding to "Facing History and Ourselves," a curriculum on the Holocaust.

The department has denied charges that an official manipulated the grant process to avoid funding a program to which she was ideologically opposed.

Given that backdrop, Nelson Smith, recently named acting director of programs for the improvement of practice, probably knew when he agreed to address a conference of Holocaust educators that they were not likely to throw roses at his feet. They didn't.

"The subject of Holocaust education engages me very deeply as it should engage all people," he said last week.

Michael Berenbaum, who spoke later on the planned national Holocaust memorial, praised what he saw as a "change in attitude," but reiterated educators' outrage over comments by a 1986 review panelist who said the program was unfair to the Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan.

At the session's end, a dozen teachers surrounded Mr. Smith to question his sincerity and demand that the department change its stand.

Ed officials rejected "Facing History," not Holocaust studies, Mr. Smith said, and have "disavowed" the statements about the Nazis and the Klan.

"We just felt that there were more pressing needs," he said, adding that "Facing History" plans to reapply.

In his new position, Mr. Smith replaces an Education Department veteran, Milton Goldberg, who was recently named to head the office of research.

Another venerable research figure, Joseph Schneider of the Council for Educational Development and Research, will leave the group in April to become associate director of the Southwest Regional Laboratory in California. He has directed cedar, which represents research facilities, including the department's labs and centers, for 20 years.--jm & ef

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