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Ballot Box: Youth vote; In the limelight

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The youth vote continues to pour in.

The Democratic nominee, Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas, garnered 43 percent of the vote in a mock Presidential election sponsored by Channel One, the classroom television-news show, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Some 3.4 million middle and high school students voted last week, with the results announced on a Channel One special broadcast on Oct. 21.

President Bush received 27 percent of the votes and the independent candidate Ross Perot 24 percent.

Governor Clinton received 47 percent of the votes cast in a poll of 50,000 students in grades 3 through 12 by NewsCurrents, a national current-events show distributed weekly to schools.

That poll, taken between Sept. 29 and Oct. 9, showed 34 percent supporting President Bush and 7 percent backing Mr. Perot.

In a poll conducted through 10 classroom magazines published by Scholastic Inc., 51 percent of middle and high school students supported Mr. Clinton, but 60 percent of elementary school students backed President Bush.

Mr. Bush received 32 percent of the upper-grades vote, and almost 17 percent of the students wrote in Mr. Perot's name. Among younger children, Mr. Clinton received 40 percent of the votes.

A total of 22,000 students voted.

In a statement, Ernest Fleishman, director of education for Scholastic, suggested that older students' concern about the future was reflected in their support for Mr. Clinton. Mr. Bush's popularity among younger children, he said, "may be due to his higher name recognition.''

Age differences also emerged in the results of a recent survey by the Weekly Reader, whose 600,000 readers supported President Bush with 55 percent of their votes, while Governor Clinton received 39 percent. Mr. Perot had not yet re-entered the race when that poll was taken.

Mr. Bush was favored by children in grades 1 through 4, who made up about 60 percent of the respondents in that poll.

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The telephones have not stopped ringing at the Beasley Academic Center on Chicago's South Side since Governor Clinton praised the public school during the Oct. 15 Presidential debate.

"I commend it to anybody,'' said Mr. Clinton, who visited the school in March, during the primary season. "It's as good as any private school in the country.''

Former Beasley students, retired teachers, community residents, and reporters have called, offering congratulations and seeking more information about the school's programs, said the principal, Ollie McLemore.

The Governor's endorsement was welcome, she said, because Chicago's public schools have gotten so much bad publicity.

"This kind of lifted all of us,'' Ms. McLemore said. "Everything is so troubled nowadays, money is short all over, and we're worried about the academic progress of the children.''

Beasley is a magnet school serving 1,200 children in grades 1 through 8; it also has a preschool center.

The school, located near the massive Robert Taylor Homes housing project, offers a "back to basics'' curriculum with a strong emphasis on science. Half of the students live in the neighborhood, and half are randomly chosen from a pool of applicants.

Ms. McLemore said she is working on a thank-you note for the Governor from the "Beasley family.''ÄÄM.W. & A.B.

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