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Conspiracy theory?

North Carolina legislators hope a former U.S. Department of Education official who investigates conspiracy theories will provide them with a closer look at how federal grants affect education in the state.

Dennis L. Cuddy, a former teacher and university professor, was hired by a North Carolina House select committee this fall to review more than 30 federal education grants awarded to the state. He is studying the sources of the grants, how the money is used, and whether there is any duplication in state funding.

"There is a concern that there is $437 million in federal education grants bypassing the legislature," Mr. Cuddy said.

The funding came under closer scrutiny after some lawmakers realized that state agencies will receive more than $7 billion in federal grants in fiscal 1998. The committee decided to review the grant funding going to education, which has been a top priority among legislators this year.

"We've got federal agencies sending federal money into state agencies that comes in here with strings attached, and sometimes those strings are contrary to what we want to see done in our education system," said Rep. Donald Spencer Davis, a Republican who is chairing the bipartisan committee. "This tells me they are running our educational system."

As a senior associate in the Education Department under President Reagan from 1982 to 1988, Mr. Cuddy reviewed federal loans. He has also written a book, Now is the Dawning of the New Age New World Order, in which he cites newspaper accounts and the writings of presidents and other officials that he says point to a conspiracy to create a world government.

"I don't think there is a conspiracy here," Mr. Cuddy said of the North Carolina funding questions. "Conspiracies are usually secret. This stuff is on the public record and available to anyone."

A report on the grants is due to the legislature next spring. The committee could recommend rejecting some federal grants, Mr. Davis said. Any rejection of federal aid, Mr. Davis argued, would not jeopardize school programs, merely force schools to use state dollars more effectively.

"I want to find out why we are wasting taxpayers' money, at both the federal and state levels," Mr. Davis said. "Any time somebody is using government funds and they don't see it coming out of their own personal pocket, they spend it like water coming out of a boot."


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