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Federal File: Points of light; Secretarial advice; Freshman

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kudos Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander last week announced an "education volunteers'' initiative to encourage employees of the Education Department to work in their local schools.

Under Mr. Alexander's plan, the agency will essentially pay an employee for half the time spent doing volunteer work in schools, with a limit of four hours in a four-week period.

For example, if an employee agreed to work in a school for an eight-hour day, he or she would only have to use four hours of vacation time.

The program was suggested to Mr. Alexander by an employee, according to the Education Department.

The agency already has an "adopted school'' where employees tutor and do other volunteer work.

Under the new program, workers--including those employed in regional offices--can volunteer in any preschool, elementary school, or secondary school.


Secretary Alexander took three calls on an "ask the principal'' hotline before his March 31 speech to the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

One caller asked Mr. Alexander what to do about a school-board member who was not performing to her satisfaction, according to The Associated Press.

"I'd look up the board member and tell him, 'If that doesn't get fixed, I'll run for your seat,''' the Secretary reportedly recommended. "That's the way it's supposed to work.''

Ever vigilant for an opportunity to promote America 2000, Mr. Alexander reportedly suggested that other callers speak with someone on the Education Department's America 2000 toll-free information line.


When organizations present awards to members of the Congress, they usually honor powerful senior lawmakers. But the Council of the Great City Schools last month gave its "special recognition award'' to Representative William J. Jefferson, a first-term Democrat from Louisiana.

Mr. Jefferson was honored for his sponsorship of the council's "urban schools of America act,'' and for leading a fight to remove private-school-choice language from an education-reform bill that is pending in the House.

Mr. Jefferson represents New Orleans, whose school district is a council member. His sister, Betty Jefferson, is a member of the city's school board, and participated in the award presentation.--J.M.

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