Federal File

By James Hertling, Tom Mirga & Alina Tugend — January 22, 1986 2 min read

Media Mugging

Secretary of Education William J. Bennett reportedly does not regret that he gave an interview to John Lofton, a prominent conservative columnist, who lived up to his reputation for baiting his subjects in a recently published dialogue with the Secretary.

Loye W. Miller, Mr. Bennett’s spokesman, said, “Anybody who knows John Lofton knew that was coming.”

In an interview published here in the Jan. 2 edition of the Washington Times , Mr. Lofton pressed Mr. Bennett to explain how, for example, “a child can really be considered educated if he doesn’t know God or God’s word.” (Mr. Bennett’s answer: “A person can be educated without so acknowledging God as the center of the universe.”)

By the end of the published transcript, Mr. Lofton had gotten the Secretary-who has often spoken about the need to return “traditional” values to the classroom-to assert that homosexuals should be allowed to teach, a position that may surprise many of his conservative supporters.

“Should sinners be allowed to teach? Yeah,” said Mr. Bennett. In fact, he added, “most of us are practicing sinners, too.”

Hello, Good-bye

There was good news and bad news for civil-rights lobbyists last week.

They grew increasingly concerned about Barbara Lerner, the likely nominee to head the Education Department’s civil-rights office.

Some are saying that what little is known about the nominee indicates that civil-rights groups and Ms. Lerner will not see eye to eye.

In a paper given at a 1980 Educational Testing Service conference, she noted that “racism exists of course . . . but racists are, for the moment, too few in numbers and too lacking in influence to create any significant division in American s0ciety as a whole.” One lobbyist said, “She’ll just be another Harry Singleton”--the agency’s recently departed civil-rights chief, who was not a favorite of the civil-rights community.

But they also heard a story last week that an old nemesis-William Bradford Reynolds-has decided to resign as head of the Justice Department’s civil-rights division.

The New York Times reported that Mr. Reynolds has told close friends that he has decided to resign by the end of this year. A department spokesman denied the Times report.

Unfriendly Advice

Howard L. Hurwitz, a Reagan Administration appointee to the Education Department’s bilingual-education advisory panel, has urged the White House to abolish the federal bilingual program.

“There can be no compromising with Hispanic militants whose political programs would be ditched by meddling with their supreme creation,” writes Mr. Hurwitz in the Jan. 4 edition of the conservative weekly Human Events, in an article entitled, ''The Case Against Bilingual Education.”

“There is no longer any need, if indeed there ever were one, of federal intervention to teach English to minority-language children,” says Mr. Hurwitz.

A version of this article appeared in the January 22, 1986 edition of Education Week as Federal File