Federal File: Thunder From the Right; Readers for Reagan; Access Guidelines

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Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell is being buffeted by criticism from the right. The latest attack comes in a new book, Washington: City of Scandals--Investigating Congress and Other Big Spenders, by a nationally syndicated conservative columnist, Donald Lambro.

Mr. Lambro chides Mr. Bell for failing to dismantle the Education Department and for "firing" Edward A. Curran as director of the National Institute of Education because Mr. Curran "bravely tried to eliminate one small corner of the federal bureaucracy."

This rebuke comes after Mr. Bell was assailed by the director of the Child and Family Protection Institute, Connaught Marshner, for failing to advance a conservative education agenda. (See Education Week, Oct. 3, 1984.)

For his part, Mr. Bell has indicated his intent to stay on--if President Reagan wins re-election--and fight to save the education budget from deep cuts suggested by the Administration's budget director, David A. Stockman. He told the Chronicle of Higher Education in a recent interview: "I don't even think we ought to be talking about budget cuts in education."

If the readers of Weekly Reader are right--and they have been in every Presidential election year dating back to 1956--President Reagan can look forward to four more years in the White House.

Nearly 900,000 students in grades 2 through 12, voting by secret ballot in late September, gave the President 64 percent of the vote, compared with 33 percent for Walter F. Mondale, the Democratic candidate, and 3 percent for a variety of write-in candidates, the publishers of Weekly Reader announced last week.

Moreover, if the poll accurately reflects the will of the electorate, Mr. Reagan can expect to take every state in the country except Arkansas and the District of Columbia, said Lynell Johnson, editorial director of the publication.

Mr. Johnson attributed the poll's accuracy over the years to the fact that "the children are clearly reflecting what their parents are saying in the privacy of their homes as they watch television and read newspapers."

Guidelines for implementing the Equal Access Act that are the product of an unusual collaboration among traditionally adversarial lobbying groups have been completed and were published in the Oct. 12 Congressional Record by Representative Don Bonker, Democrat of Washington. They are similar to a draft published last month.

Congressional sources say they doubt the Education Department will draft its own regulations for the legislation, which guarantees the right of student religious groups to meet in public schools before or after instructional hours.

But Alfred L. Alford, special assistant to Secretary Bell, is heading a task force that he insists is writing equal-access regulations.

--jh & tm

Vol. 04, Issue 09

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