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Federal File:Meaty dispute; Protest boon

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Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander was scooped last week by the only person who could get away with it: President Bush.

Speaking at a private Christian school in Georgia the day before a press conference to release a National Assessment of Educational Progress report on reading, Mr. Bush revealed some of its findings, giving license to news organizations to publish the results.

Education Department officials held the event anyway, and suggested that the President's action helped, rather than hurt, by drawing greater attention to the report.

"We weren't scooped; we were 'billboarded,' '' said a department spokesman.

Pizza purveyors have won the right to sell pepperoni pie in schools--but they will have to call it something else.

Industry officials protested for years because fresh, meat-topped pizzas were subject to rules requiring meat products made by outside vendors to be inspected before they can be served in schools. Other products, such as sandwiches and frozen pizzas, were exempt.

Last year, the Congress passed a law adding fresh pizzas to the exemption list.

The Agriculture Department, which had refused to permit the exemption, had to bow to the will of lawmakers. But proposed regulations issued by the agency last month contain a catch: Only those pizzas containing at least 10 percent meat can be labeled meat pizza.

A spokesman for Pizza Hut said the firm is likely to offer students "pepperoni-flavored pizza.''

Other types of pizza will contain sufficient amounts of beef, sausage, or pork to be labeled straightforwardly.

Arts-education programs have apparently benefited from the ongoing controversy over the National Endowment for the Arts.

When Anne-Imelda Radice took over as acting N.E.A. director last month, she outraged some in the arts community by declaring that she would bar funding for projects that are potentially offensive. She has since rejected several grants that had been approved by reviewers.

Members of some review panels have issued condemnatory statements, walked out of meetings, or refused to meet at all.

When a "solo theater'' panel declined to do its work, the endowment reallocated the funds. As a result, arts groups "deeply rooted in and reflective of inner-city, rural, or tribal communities'' received an additional $100,000 for precollegiate arts-education programs.--R.R., E.F., J.M..

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