Federal File: New Lineup; Research Repolitik

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Like a manager fine-tuning his squad for the World Series, Secretary of Education William J. Bennett is shuffling his top aides and filling two front-line vacancies.

According to Education Department officials, Mr. Bennett's chief of staff and counselor, Wendell L. Willkie 2nd, will replace Maureen E. Corcoran as the department's general counsel--a post that may take on added significance, given the Secretary's ambitious agenda.

William Kristol, now a special assistant to the Secretary, is Mr. Willkie's likely replacement as chief of staff. On leave from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, Mr. Kristol has had a hand in writing two of Mr. Bennett's most controversial speeches--one that assailed the Supreme Court's rulings on church-state separation and another asserting the failure of federal bilingual-education policies.

For two other top slots, Mr. Bennett plans to nominate John K. Wu as assistant secretary for vocational and adult education and Donald Stewart as assistant secretary for postsecondary education, department officials said.

Mr. Wu had been deputy to former Assistant Secretary Robert M. Worthington, who resigned earlier this year.

Mr. Stewart, president of Spelman College, would replace C. Ronald Kimberling, who has served as acting assistant secretary since the resignation in June of Edward M. Elmendorf.

The House-passed fiscal 1986 spending bill for the Education Department contains no mention of Mr. Bennett's reorganization of its research unit.

Representative David R. Obey, Democrat of Wisconsin and a member of the panel that drafted the bill, had threatened to add language forbidding Mr. Bennett to carry out the reorganization before responding to Congressional concerns.

But Representative Obey declined to offer the rider when faced with opposition from the subcommittee chairman--William H. Natcher, Democrat of Kentucky--and the threat of a partisan skirmish with Republican members, Congressional sources said.

This move apparently does not signal diminished interest on Capitol Hill in the reorganization. Democratic and Republican House staff members are drafting a letter from their bosses to the Secretary that will enumerate the lawmakers' questions.

A Senate panel was scheduled to hold a hearing on "choice" in education this week, but it was not the education subcommittee, as one might expect--rather, the subcommittee on intergovernmental relations, chaired by Dave Durenberger, Republican of Minnesota.

Minnesota's Republican governor, Rudy Perpich, has made the issue one of his top priorities. A "partial" witness list released last week for the Senate hearing indicates that the tenor of the gathering is very likely to please the Governor.--jh

Vol. 05, Issue 08

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