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Federal File: Otherwise engaged; disengaged; job shift?

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Otherwise engaged

It may be a while before the National Education Standards and Improvement Council begins work.

"Last I checked those were Presidential appointments," one White House official said early last month. "The President is otherwise engaged."

Indeed, over most of last month, President Clinton and Congress were occupied with legislation on crime and health care and the pending Congressional elections.

The 19-member council was created in the Goals 2000: Educate America Act to oversee the development of model national standards for curriculum content and to review state standards. NESIC's members were to be named by the President by Aug. 1, according to the law.

The President is to consider nominations from the Education Department, Congressional leaders, and the National Education Goals Panel. Only the goals panel, however, has submitted recommendations.

Education Department officials say they are waiting for lawmakers to develop their list of potential members before sending the department's list to Mr. Clinton.

"We want to make sure the President has the best pool" of nominations to choose from, said Jennifer Davis, a special assistant in Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley's office.


Former Secretary of Education William J. Bennett says he will not seek the Republican nomination for President in 1996.

"Now is not the right time for me to seek the Presidency," he said last month.

Mr. Bennett has attracted considerable support from the conservative wing of the G.O.P. with his outspoken pronouncements on family and social values.

Job shift?

Billy Webster, Secretary Riley's chief of staff, once planned to leave that job but was talked into staying by President Clinton himself. Now, he is apparently in line for a White House post.

Mr. Webster has reportedly surfaced as a candidate for a couple of positions, but it is unclear what job he might take or when he might leave the Education Department.

Some recent news reports have said that Mr. Webster will join the White House as director of scheduling and advance. Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Webster called those reports "speculation."

--Mark Pitsch

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