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Federal File: Taxing N.E.A.; Term limit?; Delegating

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In 1906, Congress granted a federal charter to the National Education Association that exempted the teachers' group from property taxes on its national headquarters in Washington.

Rep. Robert K. Dornan, R-Calif., wants to repeal it--a move that he says would add $1.6 million to the financially strapped District of Columbia's property-tax base.

"The charter was granted back when the NEA was actually a useful teachers' association dedicated to the promotion of general education," Mr. Dornan said in a statement. "Of course, now they are nothing more than a radicalized, left-wing labor union promoting everything from socialized education to homosexuality to gun control."

"I don't think the strongest NEA supporter can justify that exemption," added Paul Mero, an aide to Mr. Dornan.

Charles Erickson, a spokesman for the NEA, said the union would "abide by whatever decision is reached."

In 1991, the union completed a three-year, $65 million renovation of the building it has occupied since 1930. It now includes an 86-foot-high atrium, 21 meeting rooms, a television-production center, a 500-seat auditorium, and a computer-training center.

Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley may not stay in Washington even if President Clinton is re-elected next year.

"I have no plans except to finish out this term," Mr. Riley said last week, responding to a question after a speech at the National Press Club. "If the president is re-elected, I'd be willing to sit down and discuss [it] with him."

Deputy Secretary of Education Madeleine M. Kunin and Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Judith E. Heumann served as members of the U.S. government's delegation to the United Nations' Fourth World Conference on Women, which was held last week in Beijing.

Ms. Kunin, a former governor of Vermont, said she hoped to push "greater political participation for women and providing equal access for education."

Ms. Heumann said she wanted to "help to continue to integrate the platform on issues affecting girls and women, particularly those who are disadvantaged or have disabilities." The assistant secretary, who uses a wheelchair, noted that the U.S. delegation was "one of the few that has a disabled woman as a member."

--Mark Pitsch

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