Federal File: Tapping the roots; Comings and goings

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In anticipation of the 1994 elections, the Republican Party has created a vehicle to take the pulse of the nation on a variety of issues, including education.

The National Policy Forum plans to hold about 60 public meetings around the country to get grassroots thinking on everything from foreign policy to the family.

"We believe that parents, teachers, local school and public officials, and other concerned community members are the true 'experts' in what works and what doesn't,'' Mary Mead Crawford, the forum's communications director, said in a letter to reporters.

The forum held one meeting in northern Kentucky last month that focused on education, and organizers plan several more on the topic over the next few months, Ms. Crawford said in a telephone interview.

Information gleaned from the meetings will become part of a report that will be published this summer.

The town-meeting style of information-gathering is similar to that used by the Republican Exchange Network, which holds meetings each month that are accessible by satellite. Former Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander, who is considering a run for the Presidency, hosts the network's meetings.

The National Policy Forum, which as a nonprofit entity can take in contributions not subject to spending limits, has raised hackles inside and outside the party among those who view it as a money-raising medium for the national G.O.P.

A prominent education advocate has left the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund to become an independent consultant on education issues concerning poor and minority chlidren.

Phyllis P. McClure was most recently the director of policy and information for the fund, where she worked for 23 years.

Ms. McClure served as a member of the Independent Commission on Chapter 1 and as the chairwoman of the review panel that oversaw preparation of the Education Department's National Assessment of Chapter 1.

Meanwhile, Etta S. Fielek, who served in the Bush Administration as the spokeswoman for Mr. Alexander and his predecessor as Secretary of Education, Lauro F. Cavazos, has been named the assistant vice president of communications for the American Hospital Association.--MARK PITSCH

Vol. 13, Issue 16

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