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Undersecretary-Designate Sees Focus on Early Years, Teaching

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Washington--Ted Sanders, who was nominated this month as undersecretary of education, said in an interview last week that his priorities would be to help develop proposals to improve teaching and early-childhood education.

But Mr. Sanders, the superintendent of public instruction in Illinois, said he also looked forward to helping President Bush enact his education initiatives if he is confirmed by the Senate.

"I've come to really believe that George Bush wants to be the education President, and I'm honored and excited about the possibility of working with Secretary [Lauro F.] Cavazos and the President to make him exactly that," he said.

Mr. Sanders, who is serving a term as president of the Council of Chief State School Officers, was in Washington last week for a legislative conference sponsored jointly by the chiefs and the National Association of State Boards of Education.

Mr. Sanders said he has a "long-term interest in early-child4hood education, particularly helping children at risk," and in "efforts to improve the teaching cadre of this country."

"Those are both going to be issues in Washington this year," he noted.

Mr. Sanders took an active role in the adoption of education-reform initiatives in Illinois, but was unable to obtain much funding for them.

The Illinois superintendent said he agreed with state officials who had just spoken to the gathering about the importance of federal education aid. But he also suggested that the most important federal role is "bringing information and focus to the debate on what's possible and what ought to happen."

"The bully pulpit role of bringing these things to public attention is very exciting," Mr. Sanders said.

The undersecretary-designate said he had been told that his role in the Education Department would be "a team role, responsible for day-to-day operations."--jm

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