D.L.C. Drafts Alternative To Republican 'Contract'

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The Democratic Leadership Council, the centrist organization that President Clinton helped found, has called for massive increases in education spending in a response to the g.o.p. "Contract With America."

D.l.c. officials unveiled their "progressive alternative" at a Washington news conference last week. The 10-point plan, ranging from budget issues to defense and social reforms, was outlined in the organization's bimonthly magazine, The New Democrat.

The magazine encourages the President to "articulate a new governing philosophy rooted in the broad values and interests of average working families rather than the narrow demands of pressure groups."

Most notably for educators, the d.l.c. proposes an infusion of more than $18 billion into education and training programs over the next five years above what was appropriated for the current fiscal year. Most of that money would go to new Clinton Administration programs.

Of the $18 billion, the d.l.c. would allocate $6.4 billion for the national-service program, tripling its planned size; $2.5 billion for the school-to-work program; $6 billion for Head Start, which would be used to serve more children; $1.8 billion for the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, whose funding would rise to $1 billion annually; and $200 million for charter-schools grants, enough to pay for up to 1,000 new schools a year. An additional $1.8 billion would go to education and training for displaced workers.

The "progressive alternative" also urges the Administration to "aggressively market" its direct-lending program for postsecondary education to workers who may want to upgrade their skills or education and provide $2,500 "job-opportunity vouchers" so that dislocated workers can receive education and training from the source of their choosing.

It also urges Mr. Clinton to redistribute "power from the national government to states and localities," starting the process by convening a "Federalism Convention."

In a speech last week to the d.l.c., his first major address since the midterm elections, President Clinton characterized the Democrats' stunning electoral defeat as "a slip and not a fall."

He reiterated his support for programs aiding the middle class.

He promised that his Administration would redouble its efforts in behalf of "all the people who are trying to follow the rules, and are sick and tired of people benefiting who don't."

Mr. Clinton said that providing security to the middle class requires establishing a "system of lifetime education and training," and he proudly noted the education legislation passed by the 103rd Congress.

Former Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander last week joined the ranks of many conservative education critics in calling for the abolition of the Education Department.

He made the remarks at a conference sponsored by the Hudson Institute, an Indianapolis-based think tank that has an office in Washington.

Mr. Alexander is a senior fellow at Hudson and the chairman of a project there called the "New Promise of American Life."

Mr. Alexander, who is expected to seek the 1996 g.o.p. Presidential nomination, has been actively criticizing the Clinton Administration's Goals 2000 law and the recently reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

At the conference, Mr. Alexander suggested that Congress eliminate the Education Department, turn federal education programs over to the states, and create a new position of Presidential adviser on education.

Debra DeLee, the former director of governmental relations for the National Education Association, has been named the acting chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

Ms. DeLee will serve until a permanent successor to the former chairman, David Wilhelm, is elected next month. She has been the d.n.c.'s executive director for the past 10 months.

After her stint as acting chairwoman, Ms. DeLee will become the chief executive officer of the Democratic National Convention Committee.

President Clinton said in a statement that Ms. DeLee "has impressed all of us with her good judgment, keen mind, and sound political instincts."

--Mark Pitsch

Vol. 14, Issue 15

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