Federal File: Sweetheart Deal?; Right Recommendations; Packing Elections

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Robert W. Sweet Jr., the former New Hampshire parents-rights activist who served briefly as acting director of the National Institute of Education last year, appears to be enjoying the last laugh in a political struggle over control of the institute.

Mr. Sweet's attempts to maneuver members of the institute's new policymaking council toward wresting control from the new nie director, Manuel Justiz, have been the subject of several articles in both the Washington Post and the Washington Times this month.

The publicity reportedly has rankled Secretary of Education Bell, who sources say first ordered the council and the nie director to settle their differences and then demanded Mr. Sweet's resignation as the council's executive director.

The final irony, however, was delivered by the White House, where Mr. Sweet--to his "delight"--was just hired to work in the office of policy development. That office oversees all of the Administration's domestic policy initiatives, including those sought by Mr. Bell and his staff.

New Right leaders in Washington have repeatedly claimed that the Reagan Administration has given little more than lip service to their political agenda for education: tuition tax credits, school prayer, vouchers, abolition of the Education Department, and the end of mandatory busing.

They complain that although the President continues to endorse their demands wholeheartedly, he has not gone to bat for them with the Congress.

More of the same apparently has come in response to a report by the Advisory Panel on Financing Elementary and Secondary Education, whose chairman is Connaught C. Marshner, one of the leaders of the "family-protection" movement.

Her group's report sought, among other things, tax credits and vouchers. Secretary of Education Bell's response notes that the Administration's priorities "melded with the general recommendations of the panel."

The panel's recommendations "should be given full consideration in future deliberations of the federal role in education," the response says.

Among public employees' political-action committees, the pac--as such organizations are called--of the National Education Association was the "undisputed leading contributor" in last year's Congressional election, according to the the Public Service Research Foundation, an anti-union group.

According to figures compiled by the foundation, the union spent $1.19 million on Democrats and about $78,000 on Republicans in 1982. The figures, the foundation says, represent a 359-percent increase over the union's pac spending in 1980.

The increase earned the nea a place among the 20 top-spending pac's in the country--liberal and conservative--according to the foundation.--ew

Vol. 02, Issue 26

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