Published Online: November 10, 1999
Published in Print: November 10, 1999, as Federal File


Federal File

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Cohen advances

The Senate education committee granted its stamp of approval last week for Michael Cohen to head up K-12 programs at the Department of Education.

Now a senior adviser to Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, and before that President Clinton's education adviser, Mr. Cohen, 48, was nominated in July to serve as the assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education. Also last week, the committee endorsed A. Lee Fritschler to become the assistant secretary for postsecondary education. Previously, Mr. Fritschler, 62, served as the president of Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa

Both nominees now await confirmation by the full Senate.

However, Marshall S. Smith was not so lucky. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee declined last week to act on his long-pending nomination to be the deputy secretary of education. He has filled the job in an "acting" capacity since 1997.

Hooked on phonics

Rep. David M. McIntosh, R-Ind., a conservative typically opposed to telling schools how to spend federal dollars, last week sought to persuade his colleagues to pass a nonbinding resolution telling schools how to teach reading the phonics way.

His resolution, which failed, sought to weigh in on the debate between advocates of phonics and whole-language instruction. The vote was 224-193, but because the measure was considered under a suspension of the House rules, a two- thirds majority was required.

"This resolution is aimed at getting the word out on the need for phonics instruction so that kids of all backgrounds and abilities can learn to read," Rep. McIntosh said in floor remarks on Nov. 4. But his spokeswoman, Krista Kafer, stressed that the congressman was "not interested in mandating" the approach.

Most Democrats—and 11 Republicans—opposed the measure. Rep. William L.
Clay, D-Mo., decried the resolution as a "forcible intrusion into the classroom through a federal endorsement of what should be locally determined curriculum."

- Erik W. Robelen

Vol. 19, Issue 11, Page 30

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