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Bennett, Coats Pushing Social Policy Initiative

Former Secretary of Education William J. Bennett and Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., are pushing a package of bills as part of an initiative to "highlight and encourage the character-shaping institutions of American society" and "shift authority and resources beyond the government."

Mr. Bennett, the author of The Book of Virtues, has become a well-known critic of what he views as the degradation of American culture. Last week, he also joined Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, D-Conn., in launching a campaign against daytime talk shows that often focus on what Mr. Lieberman called "sexual deviancy."

His initiative with Mr. Coats, the "Project for American Renewal," which was announced earlier this fall, is focused on 19 bills designed to foster conservative solutions to social problems.

But Sen. Coats and Mr. Bennett, now the co-director of Empower America, a Washington-based conservative think tank, said they also hope to gain public attention through a series of hearings and to influence the 1996 Republican Party platform.

The legislative package includes many provisions that would affect schools, children, and families.

Among other steps, it would set up a residential academy for at-risk youths and authorize character-education grants, grants to 100 school districts for voucher programs that include private schools, and $1 million for districts seeking to create single-sex schools.

Gifted-Center Grant

The Department of Education has awarded a five-year, $7.4 million grant to continue the work of a national research center on the education of the gifted and talented.

The Jacob K. Javits National Educational Research and Development Center for Gifted and Talented Education is charged with investigating issues such as how to identify gifted students from a wide range of backgrounds and how to use gifted-and-talented programs to improve the education of all students in a school.

The center is the second placed under the Institute on the Education of At-Risk Students in the recently reorganized office of educational research and improvement. The grant represents a $1.35 million cut from its previous grant.

Joseph S. Renzulli will continue to direct the center at the University of Connecticut at Storrs, part of a consortium that also includes Stanford University, the University of Virginia, Yale University, and the City College of New York.

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