Published Online: February 16, 2000
Published in Print: February 16, 2000, as Federal File


Federal File

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The war's over

Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley is making his voice heard on a raging issue in his home state: He wants the Confederate battle flag removed from the dome of the South Carolina state Capitol.

South Carolina's practice of flying the symbol of the Confederacy beneath the U.S. and state flags has sparked a bitter debate between those who say the banner connotes racism and others who argue that it honors the South's heritage.

Mr. Riley, the governor of South Carolina from 1979 to 1986, has offered his opinion on the issue to educators during several recent appearances.

"I believe only two flags should fly over the state capitol," he told members of the National School Boards Association at their federal-relations conference on Jan. 31. "We feel like the Civil War is over."

Secretary Riley discussed the issue privately with legislators when he was governor, but they saw little support for changing the tradition, said Terry Peterson, a senior aide to Mr. Riley now and during his time as governor.

The secretary is speaking out publicly now because he senses the state is closer than ever to removing the flag, Mr. Peterson said.

Principles, principals

Some have accused the Clinton White House of lacking principle. But after last week's release of the administration's fiscal 2001 budget proposal, no one can say it's short of "principal."

"At the core of these proposals," the document's 90-page summary reads in the section on education and training, "is a basic principal: We must invest more in our schools and demand more from them."

"We've got a lot of people working here overnight," Dag Vega, a White House spokesman, explained.

To their credit, the senior White House aides and members of the Domestic Policy Council who wrote the proposal followed correct spelling principles when it came to Social Security, "the principal source of retirement income for two-thirds of the elderly."

—Joetta L. Sack

Vol. 19, Issue 23, Page 22

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