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Federal File: Late Finish; Bush On Campus; Secretarial Humor

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On June 8, Representative Ben Nighthorse Campbell plans to do something that has probably never been done before by a sitting member of the Congress. Forty years after the rest of his classmates received their diplomas, Mr. Campbell is going to graduate from high school.

The Colorado Democrat earned an equivalency certificate while serving in the Air Force and holds a bachelor's degree from San Jose State University. He later headed the U.S. judo team in the 1964 Olympics and became a successful cattle rancher and jewelry designer.

"But something was missing," Mr. Campbell told the Associated Press.

So he asked if he could go back to Placer High School in Auburn, Calif., to join the class of 1991. He will also give the commencement speech.

In a May 5 commencement speech, President Bush discussed the hot topic of "political correctness" on college campuses.

Silencing views that some find offensive "replaces old prejudices with new ones," he said at the University of Michigan.

"What began as a crusade for civility has soured into a cause of conflict and even censorship," he said.

The President broadened his discussion to decry the increased litigiousness of American society and "political extremists" who "set citizens against one another on the basis of their class or race."

"We all should be alarmed at the rise of intolerance in our land and by the growing tendency to use intimidation rather than reason in settling disputes," he said.

Hecklers reportedly chanted "Bush lies" as he spoke about tolerance, adding a dollop of irony to the speech.

In an informal session with reporters last week, Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander said that when he was president of the University of Tennessee, he thought often about how he would respond to a "nasty racial incident" on campus.

"I would find some way to embarrass the student," Mr. Alexander said, "to show him just what he was saying and just what it meant."

The Secretary also read letters from his nephew's 4th-grade class commenting on his education strategy. One child suggested that the "new American schools" Mr. Alexander envisions play "soft FM music" in the halls. Another suggested "no homework and extra recess."

When asked if he was worried about getting his program through the Congress, Mr. Alexander said: "I'll just be as nice to them as I can, and hope they'll do it."--jm

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