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Chairman of Hispanic Panel Quits, Cites Partisanship

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Washington

The chairman of a federal panel set up to analyze the government's role in educating Hispanic Americans resigned late last week, saying that partisanship and bureaucratic delays have throttled the group's efforts.

Raul Yzaguirre, the chairman of the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, said the panel has been unable to prepare "an unvarnished but fair and accurate analysis of the federal government's role in the education of Hispanic Americans."

In a four-page letter to President Clinton dated April 11, Mr. Yzaguirre said the only way for a federal panel to study the status of Hispanics in education and the federal role was to create a congressionally mandated panel with "an adequate budget, independent and professional staff accountable only to the commission, and a clear mandate." Mr. Yzaguirre is the president of the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy group based here.

Mr. Clinton created the commission and an interagency working group designed to provide research and support by executive order in February 1994. President Bush in September 1990 created a similar commission, which later was criticized as being ineffective.

Panel's Difficulties

Mr. Yzaguirre, who also served on the advisory commission under President Bush, cited in his letter last week four problems, which he said were also present under the previous administration:

  • "A lack of accountability and political independence" among the commission's staff. "The primary requirements for both executive directors apparently have been political rather than professional public-policy expertise."
  • Little financial support.
  • Partisanship. "Too many of the current commissioners are closely associated with partisan politics," Mr. Yzaguirre wrote.
  • Bureaucratic sluggishness. "Nearly six years after the first executive order at best only one federal agency has arguably complied with the order," he wrote.

The commission had hoped to release its report last October. Commissioners expected it to provide a blueprint for federal action to help improve the status of educational opportunities for Hispanics.

But Mr. Yzaguirre said in his letter that only a "working draft" has been completed and that "it bears little resemblance to the document we all envisioned."

The White House had not responded to the resignation as of late last week.

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