Federal File: Making a point; By any other name; Brain teasers; Poor form

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In honor of American Education Week, the White House's office of national service put an educational slant on its "points of light" campaign.

The public-relations effort, named after a now-famous line in one of President Bush's campaign speeches, each day lauds an individual or group for volunteer work.

Last week, volunteers involved in education became points of light 298 through 303.

They include a West Virginia American Legion post that sponsors sports tournaments and academic competitions in local schools and several community organizations that provide remedial help and counseling to at-risk students.

Ted Sanders is the Undersecretary of Education no longer.

Not that he has lost his job, however. His new title is "deputy secretary," and the change is a promotion that carries a salary increase.

The Bush Administration asked the Congress to rename the undersecretaries of education, interior, health and human services, and housing and urban development to "upgrade" the posts and ensure that the "number two" official in each agency carries the same title, said Wendy Toller, an assistant to Mr. Sanders.

The new titles were authorized in the spending bill for the Treasury Department and the Postal Service, which cleared the Congress Oct. 24.

The department last week sponsored a debate on school choice, which officials said may be the first in a series of "intellectually stimulating" events for ed employees.

The debaters were National Education Association President Keith Geiger, who supported choice under some circumstances but argued that it would not improve schools by itself, and former Gov. Pierre S. du Pont 4th of Delaware, who argued that competition would be a powerful stimulus.

The application used to determine eligibility for federal student financial-aid programs was rated the hardest to fill out in a recent survey--beating out income-tax returns, insurance-claim forms, and mortgage applications.

In a random sample of 625 bill-paying adults, those who had experience with the Financial Aid Form gave it low marks for its use of jargon and confusing acronyms, and for requiring data from many sources, said the pollster Alan Siegel, head of the New York-based firm Siegel & Gale.--jm & mp

Vol. 10, Issue 12

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