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Federal File: Yes, it's Bush; Gang colors; Moral hits and misses

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President Bush is scheduled to make an appearance before an audience of young volunteers this week to unveil his proposals for a national youth-service program.

A White House spokesman said last week that the President and Gregg Petersmeyer, executive director of the White House Office for National Service, would outline long-awaited plans for the Youth Entering Service program, or yes, at the June 21 gathering, which is expected to draw some 3,000 youths.

More specific details on the proposal will be released the next day at a luncheon with youth-service advocates in New York City, the spokesman said.

A Commentary essay by Chester E. Finn Jr. that appeared in the May 10 issue of Education Week apparently provoked a sartorial response in the halls of the Education Department.

In the article, Mr. Finn discusses in a humorous vein the bureaucratic obstacles he faced as assistant secretary for educational research and improvement.

One is what he termed the "Gang of 237," those civil servants who can delay, alter, or frustrate a new idea.

Employees say that once that issue of the newspaper made the rounds at the department, buttons began appearing on lapels, proclaiming: "Member, Gang of 237."

Mr. Finn said last week that he had received more mail about the essay than he ever got "about any of the serious things I've written."

Most of the letters, he said, came from others who had suffered at the hands of a bureaucracy.

In announcing the dissolution of the Moral Majority last week, the Rev. Jerry Falwell cited as one of the group's achievements an amendment to a 1984 education bill.

The measure bars secondary schools from denying the use of their buildings before and after school to religious student groups if they grant such access to others.

It was attached to the legislation that created the Education Department's mathematics and science grant program.

The Moral Majority failed to achieve several other education-related goals, such as measures allowing school prayer and equal time for creationism in public schools.

Mr. Falwell said he was disbanding the organization because it had fulfilled its purpose of activating the religious right, but he acknowledged that fund raising had ebbed in recent years.--lj & jm

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