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Strange bedfellows

States with the power to waive federal education rules know they should thank former Sen. Mark O. Hatfield, R-Ore. But they may not realize they also owe some gratitude to Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C.

In 1994, Sen. Hatfield, one of the most liberal GOP members of the Senate, sponsored the so-called Education Flexibility demonstration program as an amendment to the Senate version of the Goals 2000: Educate America Act.

John F. Jennings

Sen. Helms, a leading conservative, promised to use every ploy in the Senate rule book to block the bill, but his tactics had an unintended result, according to a new book. Aware of Sen. Helms' threats, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., the Goals 2000 program's sponsor, knew he needed at least four votes from Republicans--then in the minority--to collect the 60 needed to prevent a possible filibuster. So Sen. Kennedy made sure Mr. Hatfield's Ed-Flex program landed in the final version as a way of winning the Oregonian's support, according to Why National Standards and Tests?

"That's been [Mr. Kennedy's] strategy consistently," John F. Jennings, the book's author and the top education aide to House Democrats during the Goals 2000 debate, said in an interview.

Mr. Jennings worked for the Democrats on the Education and Labor Committee for 27 years before leaving Capitol Hill in 1994. He is now the director of the Washington-based Center on Education Policy.

President Clinton has proposed expanding the Ed-Flex program so every state may participate.

Out of the race

Running low on time and money, Rep. Frank Riggs, R-Calif., has quit his long-shot bid for a Senate seat.

The chairman of the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth, and Families will retire from Congress when his third term ends this year. A new chairman will be named after the November elections.

"My inability to devote the time and to raise the money necessary to wage a competitive campaign is simply, and painfully, a matter of too little too late," he said in his April 9 announcement. Mr. Riggs said he will move permanently to Virginia, but declined to discuss future career plans.


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