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On the Road Again

Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley will once again hit the road this year for his State of American Education Address.

Mr. Riley will travel to Seattle to deliver the speech at Nathan Eckstein Middle School.

"Seattle is working hard to prepare its students for the challenges of the 21st century," Mr. Riley said in a statement announcing the Feb. 17 address.

The annual status report on schools often previews the issues the education secretary will push in the coming year. In 1996, for example, he highlighted the need to make sure that all 3rd graders are able to read.

Later that year, President Clinton proposed his America Reads initiative, which would provide tutors to work with K-3 students.

The choice of venue for Mr. Riley's fifth annual address represents a focus on middle schools, the announcement said.

"Middle school students are starting to make choices about their identity and future, and a good middle school like Eckstein can really set the stage for helping young people make good choices," the secretary said.

In past years, Mr. Riley has traveled to Atlanta, St. Louis, and a suburban Washington school for the speech. He gave his first address in 1994 at Georgetown University in Washington.

Looking Ahead

Mr. Riley's immediate predecessor as education secretary also has his eyes on the 21st century, possibly for a different purpose.

Lamar Alexander has created the Campaign for a New American Century.

In recent months, the group has mailed excerpts from his recent speeches to members of the press.

While Mr. Alexander has yet to announce his candidacy for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination, his creation of the Nashville, Tenn.-based organization may be a precursor to a reprise of his 1996 campaign.

He followed a similar path leading up to the GOP primaries two years ago.

After leaving the Department of Education in 1993, Mr. Alexander founded a monthly satellite-television network to discuss issues--and gather grassroots support.

Although the former Tennessee governor collected more delegates than many observers predicted, he withdrew from the campaign after former Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas locked up the nomination.

--DAVID J. HOFF [email protected]

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