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The Speaker Speaks Out

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Gingrich joins other prominent conservative critics in calling for the abolition of the department, and at least one bill is being prepared that would eliminate the 15-year-old agency.

In his first remarks devoted entirely to education, Gingrich also voiced support for giving private school vouchers to public school students and for rethinking how the school day and calendar are organized. In addition, he called for making some five million Library of Congress documents available on the Internet computer network through a national digital library program. "This would allow even the poorest high schools in America to access the largest collection of Americana,'' he said. "And all it will cost you is the telephone line.''

Gingrich raised a few eyebrows when he proposed that colleges be allowed to charge high schools for the cost of remedial classes for students who arrive unprepared for college-level work.

"I just don't think that's realistic, Mr. Speaker,'' one college president said.

"My being speaker's not realistic,'' Gingrich retorted.

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