Federal Files: In limbo; On hold; On call

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The Democratic staff of the House subcommittee on elementary and secondary education has quietly put on hold a report that was expected to be highly critical of the burgeoning school-choice movement.

The first draft of the report was unacceptable to the panel's chairman, Augustus F. Hawkins, Democrat of California, because it focused too much on Reagan Administration efforts to promote private-school choice and not enough on the equity questions raised by choice plans, an aide said. Logistical and time problems have put the report "in limbo,'' he said.

Mr. Hawkins is concerned that the Education Department may be devoting too much energy to advocating choice, the aide said, and he may ask the department to justify its priorities at an oversight hearing.

John E. Chubb still doesn't know if he will be advising White House officials on education.

Roger E. Porter, President Bush's domestic-policy adviser, said last week that Mr. Chubb is still being considered for a White House post, but that no decision has been made.

Mr. Chubb, a political scientist and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said in an April interview that he was to have filled a new advisory post starting May 15. But the situation apparently changed.

Aides confirmed that Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos was angered by remarks implying that the new adviser position would usurp some of his authority, and several news reports said he was particularly annoyed at not having heard about the appointment before Mr. Chubb's comments appeared in Education Week.

President Bush reportedly tried to reassure the Secretary when the two men met the following week.

And in an interview that week, Mr. Porter contended that the job in question was not a high-level advisory post but a routine, extant, staff position involving liaison with several agencies.

His claim was contradicted by sources involved with the interviewing process, who said Mr. Porter had sought an "education heavy" to focus solely on that subject, as well as by Mr. Chubb's statements.

When Mr. Cavazos thanked Linus Wright publicly for his service as undersecretary of education, he joked: "Now we can call you back and you can work for free."

Mr. Cavazos partially fulfilled the promise recently by naming Mr. Wright to the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, whose members receive a modest $100 per working day.

Mr. Wright joined an executive-search firm in January.

--jm & ws

Vol. 08, Issue 38

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