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The Senate last week approved William J. Bennett as the first federal "drug czar."

The former Secretary of Education was confirmed March 9 on a 97-to-2 vote, with Paul Simon of Illinois and Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, both Democrats, dissenting.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Simon cast the sole vote in the Judiciary Committee against the nomination.

At Mr. Bennett's confirmation hearings, Mr. Simon expressed concern that his tenure at the Education Department, marked by a blunt, outspoken style and strained relations with much of the education community, did not bode well for work with Cabinet members and others on the drug problem.

A spokesman for Mr. Bingaman said he dissented because "as Secretary of Education, Mr. Bennett did not show a commitment to educating our kids about drugs," and because he does not have a background in anti-drug enforcement.

Hawkins Seeks More Funds

For Education Programs

Representative Augustus F. Hawkins, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, last week proposed increasing spending on a group of education, training, and child-welfare programs by $5.4 billion a year for four years.

He told the House Budget Committee his proposal would use only 6.6 percent of the $81.5 billion in new revenues projected by the Bush Administration. Preschool, Chapter 1, special-education, magnet-schools, vocational- and adult-education, and youth-employment programs would be among those benefiting from the initiative.

Mr. Hawkins said members of his committee gave Mr. Bush's spending plan an "F" in their report to the budget panel "because it fails to rise to the challenges before us." He also specifically criticized a series of new education-related initiatives put forward by Mr. Bush.

Observers say the criticism does not bode well for the proposals, many of which would have to be authorized in new legislation that would be considered by Mr. Hawkins's committee.

The Agriculture Department does not support a proposal in the last Reagan Administration budget that would cut subsidies for school meals served to middle- and upper-income students, Secretary Clayton Yeutter said last week.

At hearing before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on agriculture, Mr. Yeutter said the department would not seek to end the 14-cent subsidy provided to schools for each meal served.

The federal government should spend more money on research aimed at improving urban schools, educators told a House subcommittee last week.

At an oversight hearing on the Education Department's office of educational research and improvement, witnesses said that more money is needed to determine the best ways to aid poor, urban, and frequently uneducated parents in assuming a greater role in their children's academic progress.

Vol. 08, Issue 25

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