As the Senate prepares to take up an immigration-reform bill this week, opponents are pressing Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., to renounce his support for language that would allow states to bar the children of illegal aliens from attending public schools for free.
The language was attached to the House version of the immigration bill. A similar amendment is expected to be considered in the Senate.
Most notably, three groups representing police officers wrote to Mr. Dole, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, last week.
"The majority of the children of illegal aliens are here to stay," said Gilbert G. Gallegos, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police. "Isn't it better for them, and for us, if they are equipped, by education, with the tools they need to be productive residents?"
Robert T. Scully, the executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, said the job of law-enforcement officers "would become much more difficult and dangerous" under such an amendment.
The International Union of Police Associations also wrote to Mr. Dole, as did education groups.
Although it has engendered debate in this country, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program was expected to draw a receptive audience from 33 nations to Washington last week.
DARE America, a nonprofit group, organized a first-ever international "summit" to export information about the 13-year-old program, which sends specially trained police officers to K-12 schools to deliver anti-drug, anti-gang, and anti-violence messages.
In a proclamation declaring April 11 to be National DARE Day, President Clinton called the program "a model of effective, grassroots organization."
The program, which receives some of its funds from the Department of Justice, will reach 25 million students in nearly 70 percent of U.S. school districts this year. Another 8 million students will be exposed to DARE internationally, according to conference organizers.
Some educators and experts contend that DARE does not work. The American Journal of Public Health published a study in 1994 that was critical of the program, but its supporters said the study was weak and used old data. (See Education Week, Oct. 12, 1994.)
& Millicent Lawton