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Federal File: In the cards; Heir apparent; Teachers' pet?

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When word got out in December that the Congress had eliminated funding for the Blue Ribbon Schools recognition program this year, federal officials received a barrage of mail and telephone calls.

Money was eventually found, but not before an unusual missive arrived at the office of Representative William H. Natcher, the Kentucky Democrat who is chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that oversees education spending.

At a heating last week, Mr. Natcher said he had received a 9-foot-tall postcard from Wylie, Texas, that pleaded: "Save our blue ribbon schools."

Mr. Natcher said the card had photographs of some 600 children with a signature underneath each one. "It took several men to get it in the office," Mr. Natcher said.


Representative Jamie L. Whitten, the Mississippi Democrat who is chairman of the full House Appropriations Committee, was reportedly ready to return home last last week after a week in the hospital.

Spokesmen said the 81-year-old Mr. Whitten, who has served a record 50 years in the House, was advised to undergo medical tests after falling ill with the flu.

Although the illness reportedly was minor, at least one education lobbyist was nonetheless pondering the possibilities.

Mr. Natcher, who is 82, is next in line for the chairmanship. The lobbyist noted that with Mr. Natcher in charge of the full committee, the subcommittee he chairs probably would get a fatter slice of the available discretionary funds. That could mean more money for education programs.


The two national teachers' unions have praised the education record of Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas, and said that many of their locals are supporting him for the Democratic nomination. Now one of them, the American Federation of Teachers, is likely to issue a formal endorsement of his Presidential campaign soon.

Leaders of the 32 unions that make up the A.F.L.-C.I.O. met in Florida last week to discuss an endorsement, and reportedly decided to allow each union to go its own way when they failed to reach a consensus.

While 14 unions supported Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, the A.F.T.--along with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, and the Hotel and Restaurant Employees union backed Mr. Clinton, according to The New York Times. The National Education Association will not make its choice until May.


--J.M.

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