Ballot Box: Teachers and students; Reform candidate?; Bennett in '96?

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Gov. Bill Clinton's first campaign appearance aimed at the April 7 New York primary was a March 21 address to members of New York State United Teachers.

The union endorsed the Arkansas Governor for the Democratic Presidential nomination, pledging "an all-out effort'' in the primary.

The teachers responded enthusiastically to Mr. Clinton's speech, which focused more on the national commitment to education than on his own education record.

While sounding like Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander in emphasizing innovation and parental responsibility, Mr. Clinton also promised to increase federal education funding and to guarantee financial aid to all college students.

In closing, Mr. Clinton made his standard pitch for community and racial unity resonate for teachers by noting educators' pride in their students' success.

"The awful gulf between the children who are dying and the ones who make your life worth living is what this election is all about,'' he said.

A few days later, however, Mr. Clinton reportedly got a critical reception from students at New York City's Benjamin N. Cardozo High School, who told a reporter that they felt they had been exploited at a photo opportunity--a complaint that is often heard at President Bush's school appearances.

The New York Times reported that the students expressed skepticism about gun control and the financing of Mr. Clinton's college-aid plan, and laughed at the idea of denying driver's licenses to dropouts.

The billionaire H. Ross Perot, who has promised to run for President as an independent if supporters can get him on the ballot in every state, was a key supporter of education reform in Texas.

In 1984, he was named by Gov. Mark White to head a reform commission.

Its recommendations, some of which were adopted, included equalization aid for poor districts, a teacher career ladder, competency testing, and a controversial "no pass, no play'' rule for extracurricular activities.

In discussing Pat Buchanan's candidacy and attempt to seize the leadership of the G.O.P.'s conservative wing, many Washington pundits have mentioned former Secretary of Education William J. Bennett as a rival for that mantle and potential Presidential contender in 1996.

Mr. Bennett came to President Bush's aid in a recent television interview in which he charged that Mr. Buchanan was "flirting with fascism.''

Vol. 11, Issue 28, Page 25

Published in Print: April 1, 1992, as Ballot Box: Teachers and students; Reform candidate?; Bennett in '96?
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