Federal File: Low grade; Student aid; Name change

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In the current issue of the Heritage Foundation's education newsletter, the conservative think tank's education analyst gives President Bush a "C+" for his efforts in education thus far.

Jeanne Allen took the self-proclaimed "education President" to task for missing opportunities to praise new parental-choice programs in Nebraska and Boston, and for wavering in his support of tuition tax-credits for private-school parents.

She also noted that none of Mr. Bush's legislative proposals for education has been enacted, and asserted that his education summit with the governors "now looks more like a molehill."

Frustrated in his unsuccessful pleas for federal aid to cope with burgeoning enrollments of refugee children, Superintendent of Schools Joseph A. Fernandez of Dade County, Fla., recently turned to his students for help.

In a memorandum issued last month, Mr. Fernandez asked all of the district's principals to "encourage their teachers to develop, as a classroom assignment for their students, a ... lesson where each student will write President Bush a personal letter describing this school system's plight" and requesting "emergency impact aid."

"Teachers should be asked to take care, in providing direction to students, that letters to the president not portray our new refugees as 'burdens,"' Mr. Fernandez wrote.

"Students should be advised that the problem we face is not the refugees, per se, but the failure on the part of the national government to provide financial assistance for a community adversely affected as a direct result of a federal foreign policy," he added.

Attached to each memorandum was a sheet listing relevant facts as well as suggested words and phrases for students to use. Mr. Fernandez asked that the letters be mailed to the President between Oct. 20 and Nov. 30.

The Senate Subcommittee on the Handicapped has changed its name to the Subcommittee on Disability Policy.

The old name was "inappropriate," as it "focuses on the condition and not on the individual," Senator Tom Harkin, the panel chairman, said in a statement.

The Iowa Democrat said that the term "handicapped" has a negative connotation and that advocates for the disabled have criticized panel members for the committee's "patronizing" name.

"What is in a name? Everything--as the high-priced media and advertising consultants tell us," Mr. Harkin said. "It expresses who you are, what you believe in, and what you do."--jm & ps

Vol. 09, Issue 10

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