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Federal File: Repackaging; Warm welcome; Memories

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This week, Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley takes over the role of host of a satellite-television talk show on education pioneered by his predecessor, Lamar Alexander.

Mr. Alexander launched the broadcasts as a way of disseminating ideas about school improvement, while at the same promoting the Bush Administration's America 2000 education agenda.

The Clinton Administration has apparently decided to support local efforts begun under America 2000, and to retain the teleconferences, which are co-sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

In what seems to be a bid to disassociate the television show from the Bush era, the Clinton team has given it a slightly different title.

The "America 2000 Satellite Town Meeting'' will now be known as the "Goals 2000: Educate America Satellite Town Meeting.'' The new Administration's upcoming education-reform bill will have a similar title.

The name change also is helpful politically for communities that named their education initiatives after America 2000.

An aide to Mr. Riley said recently that officials had not decided whether to retain America 2000's logo, a red, white, and blue triangle.


Mr. Riley told a group of teachers'-union members last week that, unlike his Republican predecessors, he "won't be a party to bashing educators in this country.''

"I want to treat teachers as part of the solution, rather than part of the problem,'' he said at an American Federation of Teachers legislative conference.

On a different note, Mr. Riley recalled visiting an elementary school classroom as Governor of South Carolina and his effort to engage a disruptive child.

He said he asked the boy if he had ever been to Columbia, the state capital. The student said he had been there for a baseball game.

As reporters and television cameras recorded the event, the boy added: "Daddy got drunk, and we had to bring him straight home.''

"That's the last time I tried to teach,'' Mr. Riley said.


A Republican member of the House Budget Committee reminded Mr. Riley last week that in the past he had testified before the panel in favor of a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget, something Mr. Clinton opposes.

"I said I haven't been for a balanced-budget amendment, but I'm so disgusted with this deficit situation that I'm willing to be for anything,'' he replied.--J.M.

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