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Federal File: Top down?; Good news; Moving on

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Debra DeLee, the former director of governmental relations for the National Education Association, has joined the Democratic National Committee as its executive director.

In that role, she will work on the 1994 Congressional elections and the day-to-day operations of the committee.

According to The Wall Street Journal, David Wilhelm, the chairman of the D.N.C., had someone else in mind for the job when he was handed Ms. DeLee's name by the White House.

But a D.N.C. spokesman said that that was "not true.''

Mr. Wilhlem "went to Debra DeLee and asked her to come on board,'' he said.

Education Department officials are emphasizing that not all is bad in American education.

At a recent speech introducing the publication of a new book of statistics on young people, Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley said schools are not performing as poorly as some people think.

"We've got a lot of problems, but schools are kind of holding their own,'' Mr. Riley said. "Drugs, crime, poor health care--many of these elements pull schools down.''

"School is a positive influence on this country and is doing better, generally, than communities,'' he added.

At a recent National Assessment Governing Board meeting, Sharon P. Robinson, the assistant secretary for educational research and improvement, expressed a similar sentiment.

According to minutes of the meeting, Ms. Robinson said the National Assessment of Educational Progress "should stop the feeding frenzy of bad news about education, but rather promote educational change by validating more promising practices.''

A spokeswoman said the officials are not suggesting education reforms are not needed, but rather are choosing to emphasize good elements in schools.

Andrew J. Hartman, the education-policy coordinator for House Education and Labor Committee Republicans since 1991, is leaving that job to become the executive director of the National Institute of Literacy.

The institute--which coordinates national, state, and local literacy efforts--was created in 1991 when Congress passed the National Literacy Act.--MARK PITSCH

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