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A top aide in the Department of Education has moved to the White House to serve as President Clinton's first special adviser for education.

Michael Cohen, who has spent the last 3-1/2 years overseeing the passage and implementation of the Clinton administration's signature education initiative, Goals 2000, will craft an education agenda for the president's second term, should he be re-elected.

"I'm pleased and excited," said Mr. Cohen, who began his new job last week. "It's hard to leave ... but in a sense, it will be like playing a different position on the same team."

Mr. Cohen worked with Mr. Clinton on school issues during the 1992 election campaign before joining the department. When Mr. Clinton was the governor of Arkansas and the chairman of the National Governors' Association, Mr. Cohen, who then worked for the NGA, helped negotiate and write the original six national education goals.

The job of monitoring the progress of the Goals 2000: Educate America Act will fall to Gerald N. Tirozzi, the department's assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education.

President Clinton helped raise $76,000 for his daughter's private school this spring by auctioning the privilege of playing a round of golf with the commander-in-chief.

Now a conservative advocacy group in California wants Mr. Clinton to join in its charity event to raise money for a scholarship program that helps needy children pay for private school tuition.

"We have to thank President Clinton for inspiring this celebrity golf event," said Kevin Teasley, the vice president of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, a conservative Los Angeles-based organization that focuses on education and entertainment issues.

But don't count on seeing the president teeing up.

The "President's Golf Challenge," set for Aug. 11-12 in San Diego, will coincide with the Republican National Convention being held there.

Not surprisingly, a White House spokeswoman said Mr. Clinton "is not scheduled to be in California at the time."

--ROBERT C. JOHNSTON [email protected]

Vol. 15, Issue 40

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