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Federal File: Spin delay; Back in town

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Spin Delay

Creating a blueprint for bringing the nation's schools into the information age has become far more complicated now that the White House has taken an interest in the project.

President Clinton intends to personally unveil the plan, according to administration officials. And so a report that was to be issued by the Department of Education in October now sits in bureaucratic limbo, "being completely rewritten" to satisfy White House spin doctors, a source close to the process said.

The Clinton administration was quick to embrace the promise of educational technology. It appointed Linda G. Roberts, who directed two authoritative studies on the topic for the now-defunct congressional Office of Technology Assessment, as an adviser to Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley. Earlier this fall, Mr. Clinton gathered eminent technologists and educators around a White House conference table to discuss how the two groups could join forces. And for the better part of a year, the Education Department has gathered public input through town meetings and an on-line forum.

The results of this work were encapsulated in the unpublished report, "Connecting Classrooms, Computers, and Communities: Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age," which outlines a plan for upgrading schools' technology infrastructure. A copy of the report, given to Education Week, was marked "Embargoed until Oct. 31."

Ms. Roberts would not discuss last week why the report was being held up, except to emphasize that President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore have taken a personal interest in the topic.

Back in Town

After walking away from a federal appointment in 1993 to become the chancellor of the New York City schools, Ramon C. Cortines is back in Washington.

Mr. Cortines left the New York post in October following a long struggle with Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani over control of the school district. Last week, Secretary Riley hired him as a special adviser, focusing on urban issues and school improvement.

Mr. Cortines, who formerly served as San Francisco's school superintendent, headed the Education Department transition team after the 1992 presidential election and was later nominated for the post of assistant secretary for intergovernmental and interagency affairs. But he accepted the New York chancellorship in the fall of 1993 before the Senate voted on his nomination.

--Peter West & Robert C. Johnston

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