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Federal File: Booby prize; Deck shuffling; New recruits

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On last week's Grammy Awards television program, Michael Green, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, took a swipe at the Bush Administration's America 2000 education plan for its neglect of the arts.

"Among all its goals, the words 'art' or 'music' are not mentioned even once,'' he told the worldwide viewing audience. "The very idea that you can educate young people in a meaningful way without music and art is simply absurd.''

Without a presence in schools, Mr. Green said, the arts will become irrelevant to all but the wealthy, and future generations unexposed to art will accept censorship.

"Of course music is important and art is important,'' said Etta Fielek, a spokesman for Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander.

While America 2000 and the national education goals focus on "core subjects,'' Ms. Fielek said, "we think it is important for communities to look beyond the core subjects to other challenging subject matter.''


Last week's departure of the Education Department official who headed the America 2000 effort would seem to support rumors that the office he ran is being disbanded. Some observers suggested that Congressional irritation at the use of funds for activities they had not approved had influenced Mr. Alexander to spread out the work so the cost could not be so easily calculated.

But Ms. Fielek said while changes in the way the effort is run are under consideration, the fate of the office has not been determined, and Michael P. Jackson's departure to become chief of staff at the Transportation Department was "unrelated.''

"What we're discussing,'' Ms. Fielek said, "is how do you make America 2000 part of the whole [agency] operation.''

She said Mr. Jackson may not be replaced, and that both Undersecretary David T. Kearns and Mr. Alexander's chief of staff, Stephen I. Danzansky, may play a more direct role in America 2000.

Also undecided, Ms. Fielek said, is the role to be played by Lanny Griffith, the new assistant secretary for intergovernmental and interagency affairs.


Many events have been held celebrating the kickoff of local America 2000 efforts, but one took place Feb. 20 that had a new twist: It featured the first American Indian tribe to jump on the bandwagon.

Officials from both the Interior and Education Departments joined tribal leaders in Philadelphia, Miss., to launch "Choctaw 2000.''--J.M.

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